Any Crops Left on the Farm?


Kyle Zimmer – the new number one. Mandatory Credit: US Presswire File Photo

I’m going to take one final look at “The Trade” with the Tampa Bay Rays, and any collateral damage on the Royals farm system. We all know – even casual fans – who Wil Myers is (and most probably know Jake Odorizzi as well). But did this trade really wreck our farm system? I maintain the move was a good one, and that the farm remains strong. Let’s take a look at some remaining top prospects.

According to Baseball America’s JJ Cooper, in an update of the top prospects published on November 19, 2012, Myers was the number one prospect, which is no surprise. Many fans were upset to see Odorizzi, number five on Cooper’s list, also included in the deal. So…two of our top five are gone. Let’s slide the other guys up the ladder and see where that leaves us. After the trade, our top guys according to BA are:

  1. Kyle Zimmer, RHP
  2. Bubba Starling, OF
  3. Yordano Ventura, RHP
  4. Jorge Bonifacio, OF
  5. Adalberto Mondesi, SS
  6. Sam Selman, LHP
  7. Orlando Calixte, SS
  8. Jason Adam, RHP

That’s still a great group of players. Zimmer is also listed as having the best curveball and best control of any pitcher in the system, while Ventura has the top fastball. Starling is named the best athlete and is said to possess the best outfield arm. Sounds like three guys with a lot of upside to me. Are they knocking on the door like Myers and Odorizzi were? No…not yet. But Myers and Odorizzi were no more known quantities than any of the remaining eight players, we were just closer to finding out if they were legitimate big leaguers.

Cooper goes on to project a 2016 lineup and rotation based on the top prospects and current major league roster. It included Myers in right field. But to all those so upset by Odorizzi’s inclusion in this deal: he was projected as the fifth starter. Not exactly an endorsement for being a guy with game changing ability. Zimmer is projected as the ace, with Ventura the fourth starter…both projected ahead of Odorizzi, and both are still in the Royals pipeline.

Shifting gears to FanGraphs, Marc Hulet ranked the KC prospects, and had Myers and Odorizzi in the top five as well (first and fourth, respectively). FanGraphs offered a top 15, rather than top 10. Listing their top 10 minus the two missing prospects looks like this:

  1. Zimmer
  2. Ventura
  3. Starling
  4. Mondesi
  5. Bonifacio
  6. Selman
  7. Adam
  8. Kyle Smith, RHP
  9. Calixte
  10. John Lamb, LHP

Yordano Ventura pitches in the 2012 Futures Game. Mandatory Credit: Bob Ellis

Baseball America’s guys are all here again, with Kyle Smith and John Lamb joining the party. FanGraphs claims Odorizzi’s ceiling was that of a number three or four starter…which is in line with Cooper’s “conservative” projection of fifth starter. Lamb, by the way, who is recovering from surgery, was projected to be a number two or three starter by many prior to injury. He could be one to keep an eye on as he makes his way back.

Oh…and you may have noticed…the other two prospects KC included in this trade – nowhere to be seen here (they weren’t in FanGraphs top 15 list at all).

What all of this boils down to, though, is guesswork. I’m a believer in statistical trends and projections. But I’ve also seen many top prospects fail – or at least not become the superstar player they were projected to be. Maybe Zimmer is the next Zack Greinke (or James Shields). Maybe Starling or Bonifacio are just good as Wil Myers (who knows…maybe one of them is better). What we do know? KC traded a couple of questions for a couple of answers.

The point is…we have seen Dayton Moore make strides towards putting a competitive big league roster together this offseason, and when is the last time we could honestly say that? You have to admit – a complete overhaul of the pitching rotation is pretty unheard of. Is it good enough to make a run at one of those wild card spots? Maybe…maybe not. But at least we’re discussing it for once. And, by the way, the farm doesn’t look so bad after all.