So the Royals farm system is as close to a lock for Baseball America’s top ranking when their Prospect Handbook comes out in late January/early February.
We’ve discussed at length who these prospects are, who they could be and we have a general idea of when they’ll arrive in Kansas City.
But what does any of that mean?
I’m as big a prospect fan as the next Royals fan, especially right now. I recall the days when Alex Gordon and Billy Butler were going to usher in a new era of success and the plan was 2008 or 2009 for the Royals next playoff push.
Didn’t happen, obviously.
There’s always a concern at the back of my mind that maybe this group won’t be any different. Sure, they look good now, but with none of the prospects in the big leagues yet, nobody knows how they’ll hit, how they’ll pitch or how they’ll adjust to the spotlight.
That’s why the importance of the Royals system isn’t so much the high-end talent like Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer, but rather the depth. In yesterday’s “Ask BA” chat, Jim Callis was asked if the Royals system would be as highly regarded if their top five prospects were omitted.
[W]e know exactly what their Top 10 would like if we sliced five elite prospects off the top: shortstop Christian Colon, lefthanders Danny Duffy and Chris Dwyer, righthander Aaron Crow, outfielder Brett Eibner, righties Jason Adam and Yordano Ventura, lefty Tim Collins, righty Tim Melville and third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert.
That Top 10, combined with the Royals’ exceptional depth, would still give them a system that would rank somewhere in the 8-15 range.
That’s a pretty good standing. The issues before Dayton Moore weren’t so much that first round picks busted, but that there was nothing behind them. Colt Griffin stunk, but there weren’t many other prospects to pick up the pieces after what turned out to be a wasted first rounder. When the Royals did manage to find a promising young player, they found a way to foul it up, or injuries got in the way (see Pittsley, Jim or Rosado, Jose). It makes me chuckle a bit to see Chad Durbin as an established major leaguer today because the Royals sure didn’t start him off on that path.
Of the Royals top prospects, four are first rounders, but the others are a mix of later rounds, international signings or players acquired via trade. The shift from paying minimal bonuses to going after first-round talent in later rounds looks to be the best move Dayton Moore’s made since he took over. Sure, Mike Aviles was a $1,000 bonus signee, but those guys making it to the majors are pretty rare. The Royals have gone all in on the draft and it’s paying off so far and should pay off later.
The Royals depth is so solid through the minors, Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus has mentioned that he’s not even sure the Royals can mess it up.
I’d be upset with that comment, but…I’ve been watching these guys for years and hey, he’s pretty much right. We’ve screwed it up before. This time, though, there’s depth, talent, and a plan. It can’t go wrong again.