Did The Kansas City Royals Cripple Their Farm System?

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Oct 15, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals first baseman

Eric Hosmer

(35) hugs general manager Dayton Moore after game four of the 2014 ALCS playoff baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals swept the Orioles to advance to the World Series. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

By trading off five young pitchers in exchange for rent-a-players Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist, did Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore cripple his farm system?

Certainly, they hurt it. By trading Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, and Cody Reed to the Reds for Cueto, and dealing Sean Manaea and Aaron Brooks to Oakland for Ben Zobrist, the KC Royals both denuded their system of four left-handers and cleared out most of the near major league ready pitchers from the upper minors.

According to pre-season prospect ratings by Fangraphs.com, Finnegan and Manaea were the Kansas City Royals two top prospects. John Sickels agreed. Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper put the pair no. 2 and 3 behind Raul Aldaberto Mondesi, while Baseball Prospectus’ Nick Faleris ranked them no. 3 and 4.

Pretty much any way you cut it, losing two of your top five prospects hurts the KC Royals farm system.

The 25-year-old John Lamb had pretty much disappeared from the prospect radar as he struggled to recover from Tommy John surgery in 2011. However, in 2015, he regained a bit more velocity to sit in the low 90’s and touch 95. Lamb also added a cutter, which became his strikeout pitch. Suddenly, he was missing bats like he did before and dominated at AAA Omaha with a 9-1 record, 2.67 ERA, and a 9.2 K/9,

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Fangraphs.com quoted a scout that called Lamb “the extra guy” in the Kansas City Royals deal for Johnny Cueto, but he’s big-league ready and looks able to slot in as a bottom of the rotation starter. However, with his prospect pedigree (Baseball Prospectus formerly ranked him the 11th best prospect in baseball), and that he’s added velocity every year since 2012, he might have more  upside than your typical guy with a fringe starter future.

Cody Reed had worked his way back to prospect status with a comeback season at High A and AA (2.53 ERA across two levels), after struggling with his command when the KC Royals made him their second round draft pick in 2013.

Twenty-five year-old Aaron Brooks, was pretty much a guy with average (at best) stuff and a bottom-of-the rotation future .

So, make no mistake, the Kansas City Royals did deal away two of their top prospects and lost quite a bit of depth to load up for their 2015 playoff run.

Yet, the system isn’t dead.

See the “The Prospect Pipeline” to continue:

Next: The Prospect Pipeline

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