It’s that time of year when every publication starts to crank out their annual prospect lists and the FanSided Network is no different.
Over at Seedlings to Stars, we’re going through the top 100 (really 115 – there are just so many good ones out there) prospects in baseball. Despite some graduation to the majors and the big trade in December, the Royals landed three big names on the list. Those three are:
Zimmer doesn’t have much of a track record yet, but signed early enough to get some time in the Pioneer and Midwest League. He’s arguably the team’s top pitching prospect and there’s enough out there to suggest that if all goes well he could be on the fast track to the majors as early as 2013. As a pitcher out of college, that quick ascent isn’t unheard of, but it’s uncharacteristic for the Royals. He should start the year in High A Wilmington.
July 8, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; World pitcher Yordano Ventura throws a pitch during the first inning of the 2012 All Star Futures Game at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
No surprise that Ventura makes the list. Some see him as the top pitching prospect in the organization, but even if he isn’t, he’s close to the top of the list. The Royals seem to want him to get closer to the majors this year, as long as the performance warrants it. I suspect that if he has an ideal year, he’ll cruise through Double A and spend a couple months in Triple A until reaching the big leagues in September.
If things don’t go well, or they rush him, Ventura is still likely to get a lot of time in Triple A. With the way the Royals pitching staff is constructed, they aren’t in any position to push him if there’s any hint of struggle. If he contributes before 2014, it’ll be considered a bonus.
There’s still plenty of time for Starling to reach his potential. The Royals knew he’d have a longer path than some coming out of high school and focusing full-time on baseball after being a multi-sport star out of Gardner-Edgerton High School in Kansas. Pro baseball is a big jump from Kansas 5A athletics, but the tools are enough to make scouts drool. If he realizes his potential, he could be among the game’s best players.
For now, though, it’s just unrealized potential and it’s significant to note that Starling is older than 2013 National League Rookie of the Year Bryce Harper. He seems like the kind of player who, when it clicks, it comes together quickly, but there’s no guarantee that Starling will ever develop. The Royals were pleased with his 2012 in short-season Burlington and he should be starting in Low A Lexington in 2013. Starling was also ranked among Jonathan Mayo’s top 10 outfield prospects.
After the 2011 prospect rankings anointed Kansas City as the supreme farm system in the land, Royals fans have been pretty spoiled and getting “only” three prospects in a top 100 feels lacking in impact. Consider also that Wil Myers will be a top five prospect and Jake Odorizzi was the 32nd prospect in these rankings, so the Royals system produced a good amount of talent. Two of the biggest names were simply traded away.
Others who could have gotten into the rankings would be shortstop Adalberto Mondesi, a fast riser among scouts, John Lamb, who should be ready to go after spending 2012 working back from Tommy John surgery, and possibly outfielder Jorge Bonifacio. Cheslor Cuthbert came in tenth in Mayo’s third baseman rankings and could have snuck into this list as well.