Beginning today, I will be taking a look back at the 2012 Kansas City Royals Top 31 Prospects according to Baseball America. In early January of every year (I remember when it used to be released in March), the publication releases its Prospect Handbook, looking at the Top 31 prospects of every Major League Baseball team.
Since the minor league season is over, I will be looking at a few prospects a week beginning with the 31st prospect and heading backwards to number one.
The Royals 31st prospect heading into the 2012 season was right-hander Kyle Smith.
The 2011 fourth round pick signed late, meaning 2012 was his first professional season. When the Royals selected the high schooler, they considered him advanced, with an above-average fastball (88-92 mph) that he located well and a feel for a breaking ball (a hard slurve). He also had confidence in his developing changeup.
BA believed Smith was advanced enough to appear at Low-A Kane County at some point in 2012, and that he did. After one start for Idaho Falls (where he struck out 11 and earned Pitcher of the Week honors), Smith made 13 starts for the Cougars. His first start for the Cougars earned him Midwest League Pitcher of the Week honors, as he threw six no-hit innings. His best start came on August 7th, when he threw seven shutout innings. He allowed just three hits while striking out 12.
Overall, he was 5-3 with a 2.86 ERA over 72.1 innings. He struck out 98 compared to 21 walks. In Baseball America’s latest edition, Smith was named as the player to keep an eye on.
Most likely, Smith will move up the Royals’ prospect rankings heading into the 2013 season and should make his High-A debut in Wilmington at some point (if not to start the season).
You can follow Smith on Twitter (@Kyle_T_Smith), as he is currently participating in the Royals’ instructional league. Games officially begin today and continue through October 19th.