Let’s face it, the Royals are loaded with prospects. For the purpose of actual rankings, I’ve gotten input from the other contributors here on Kings of Kauffman and finalized the countdown. (You can look at last year’s rankings here.)
And just like building a piece of furniture out of the box from Walmart, there are a lot of other pieces laying about, and I have a feeling they’re important.
These are a handful of prospects who I think warrant mentioning, but fall just short of getting a full profile:
- Noel Arguelles – After signing last January with the Royals, it seemed like the Cuban lefty could be the Royals version of Aroldis Chapman. While Chapman has vaulted into the top prospects in baseball and an important part of the Reds pitching staff, Arguelles has yet to throw a pitch in competition in the States. Hampered by shoulder issues and with surgery looming, we might not see him in a game at any level until 2012. If he does pitch this season, it’s likely going to be starting at Kane County or Wilmington and the Royals will go from there. The (barely) 21-year-old features a fastball with velocity that reaches the mid-90s and could employ an above average curve and changeup. Health permitting.
- Blaine Hardy – Last August, I wrote up a brief profile about Hardy, who had been mostly overlooked to that point. Since being drafted in 2008, he’s shot through four levels of minor league ball, finishing last season in Omaha. He has a career 2.66 ERA as a professional over 220 innings pitching both as a starter and as a reliever. He got hit a bit in Triple A and posted a career high ERA (3.49) but he still has good control and an average strikeout rate in the upper levels of the minors. His career 3.56 K/BB ratio looks good and he could be another lefty out of the bullpen for Kansas City at some point in 2011.
- Everett Teaford – A breakout season at Double A earned Teaford a spot on the Royals 40 man roster after putting up a 10.4 K/9 – a career high. He finished 2010 with a 3.50 ERA in Double A and showed decent control. Teaford has a chance to compete for a spot in Kansas City in spring training but will probably start out in Omaha. There are questions about if Teaford can maintain his high strikeout rate or if it’s an outlier – but his fall league performances seem to show that he’s figured some things out and is another solid lefty prospect in a system full of them.
- Crawford Simmons – I really wanted to put Simmons in the top 25, but I want to see a little bit more from him first. His 2010 was enough to get my attention, but he doesn’t have great stuff and his fastball might never top out past 90-91 mph. He pitched well for Burlington in the Appalachian League, putting up a 2.77 ERA over 78 innings. He only walked 19 batters all season while striking out 70 for a nice K/BB ratio. He’s another lefty in the system, so he blends in. Give him a couple of years though – I have a hunch.
- Buddy Baumann – I promise this isn’t just a list of left-handed pitchers. It just happens that the Royals have a load of talented southpaws. Baumann is another in that mold – he did well for Wilmington in 2010, hurling 100.2 innings and striking out 113 over that span. His control wasn’t stellar, though it wasn’t terrible either. He has a 3.28 K/BB ratio which is perfectly acceptable. Baumann was the Mike Sweeney Award winner at FanFest this year, which recognized him for representing the Royals on and off the field. He seems like a mature 22 year old which could help him as he advances up the minor league pipeline.
- Paulo Orlando – FINALLY, a position player. Orlando was the return for Horacio Ramirez in 2008, coming over from the White Sox. A native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Orlando hopes to become the first Brazilian major leaguer. His 2010 season got him a step closer after he put up a .305/.366/.480/.846 season at Northwest Arkansas in 410 plate appearances. The outfielder has very good speed and added 25 stolen bases in 35 attempts for the Naturals. The Royals have a lot of outfielders to mix and match, but he might be someone we see in September or perhaps in camp next spring. Unlike a lot of Royals outfielders, Orlando bats from the right side.
- Jorge Bonifacio – Bonifacio won’t turn 18 until June 4 this year, but he’s already put in time at two short season rookie league levels. In 282 plate appearances with the Dominican League Royals and Arizona Rookie League Royals, the right-handed outfielder put up a .296/.381/.433/.814 line and added 24 extra base hits in that action. He’s another speedster, racking up 7 triples in the instructional levels and adding 14 stolen bases. He walked 11% of the time and struck out 20.5% of the time – at the age of 17. The contact should be there and hopefully the walkrate will be too. It seems like the Dominican League, where Bonifacio spent most of his time in 2010, is more walk-heavy, as he only walked six times in Arizona. If nothing else, though, he showed enough plate discipline to walk at a reasonable rate in his short stint there.
- Patrick Keating – Keating finished 2010 closing out the Texas League Championship for the Naturals, so at this stage in his career, he’s handled pressure well. Keating probably won’t be more than a reliever at any stage of his professional career, but that role really suits his stuff, as he has two solid pitches but not much else. His fastball can hit 95 mph and he has a good slider as well, which is a good combo for a reliever to have. He’s a strikeout machine, with 148 strikeouts in 104 career innings, including a 13.3 K/9 at Double A. He was a 20th round pick in 2009 and could be knocking on the door to Omaha early in 2011. Unlike many of the Royals prospects, he’s a right-handed pitcher.
- Humberto Arteaga – Last August, the Royals signed Arteaga out of Venezuela for $1.1 million. The 16-year-old shortstop is spoken of highly by the Royals as they think he’ll be athletic enough to remain at shortstop as he develops. Rene Francisco, a Royals assistant in international operations, sees him as a player with solid instincts and a line-drive bat. He must be pretty close in that determination, as Baseball America named Arteaga the Royals #23 prospect in this season’s Prospect Handbook. Believe it or not, I don’t have the scouting department or connections that Baseball America has, so for me, I’m waiting to see some numbers in competition before I jump on the bandwagon. What I hear sounds great, however.
- Mario Santiago – After the conclusion of the 2010 season, Mario Santiago had a 4.11 ERA in 602.2 minor league innings. At 26 years old, he went into the offseason headed for the Puerto Rican league after putting up a decent, but not flashy, 3.58 ERA at Northwest Arkansas. At 6’2″ 210 he has a good frame for a starting pitcher, but was left unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft in December. He went unselected and will return to the Royals organization. Ho-hum. However, it’s notable that he slipped through because somewhere along the way, Santiago learned a cutter and it helped him destroy the Puerto Rican Fall League to the tune of a 2.66 ERA and a 50/14 K/BB ratio over 50.2 innings pitched. He surrendered no homers in that period and had a groundout/flyout ratio of 1.88. In other words, he was probably worth a selection by somebody with those kinds of numbers. The cutter apparently looks nice and complements a strong curveball. Now, the decision is if his 50.2 innings this fall are enough to overlook the 602.2 innings of pitching where he’s only mustered a career 5.8 K/9. One more season should tell us.
There are many more prospects I could include in this list, but the system is just bursting with talent. There’s no way to cover them all and remain concise. I left a few names off that I wanted to discuss like Manuel Pina, Murray Watts, Jorge Soto and Kevin Chapman – players who I think warrant discussion or who I just find intriguing. That’ll have to be another time, though, as through the rest of the month, we’ll be counting down from#25 to #1 as we rate the Royals farm system.
Keep track of the full list of prospects in the Kings of Kauffman Countdown on our Prospect Rankings page under the Organization tab or by clicking here. Stay current on all the Kings of Kauffman content and news by following us on Twitter, Facebook, or by way of our RSS feed.