The KC Royals top 10 prospect list from Baseball America came out Wednesday.
One of the most respected, and oldest, information source about major-league prospects, Baseball America publishes top 10 team lists before revealing their highly anticipated top 100 prospects in baseball rankings.
Here is the Kansas City Royals top 10 prospect list as ranked by J.J. Cooper:
- Raul A. Mondesi
- Kyle Zimmer
- Bubba Starling
- Miguel Almonte
- Nolan Watson
- Ashe Russell
- Marten Gasparini
- Matt Strahm
- Scott Blewett
- Cheslor Cuthbert
There are a number of surprises on this list compared to many KC Royals fan perceptions of the system heading into this winter.
First, J.J. Cooper does not rank older minor-league players such as Brett Eibner, Jose Martinez, and Bambino Fuenmayor who put up big numbers in the high minors for the KC Royals in 2015. Second, Cooper gives strong consideration to players like Matt Strahm and shortstop Martin Gasparini that have been ignored by all but the most prospect-crazy Kansas City Royals fans.
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Bubba Starling has risen to the number three position, reflecting both his hitting breakthrough at High A and Double AA, but also his Arizona Fall League success. The most interesting material, however, came in J.J. Cooper’s live chat about his rankings.
Second, Cooper said Italian prospect Marten Gasparini had a higher upside than any KC Royals position player farmhand with the exception of Mondesi. That means he sees Gasparini having more potential than five-tool outfielder Bubba Starling. Cooper thinks that Mondesi has “insane” tools and is more likely to stick at shortstop in the bigs than Gasparini, but he’s higher than anyone I’ve seen on the former international signing.
Third, J.J. Cooper said the deals for Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist significantly thinned the system. Sean Manaea, Cody Reed, and Brandon Finnegan would have ranked no. 2 through no. 4 on his list had they remained in the Kansas City Royals organization. As a result, he sees the KC Royals farm system ranking in the bottom third in major league baseball.
Cooper has quite a different take on the Kansas City Royals top prospects than our own Kings of Kauffman administrator David Hill, who compiled a top 15 prospect list on October 1. Marten Gasparini and Matt Strahm did not make Dave’s list, while Nolan Watson and Scott Blewett fell outside the top 10.
Strahm is a 24-year-old left that fell off the fan radar because he missed all of 2013 and 2014 recovering from Tommy John surgery. Yet, Strahm recovered well enough to dominate at both Lexington (2-1, 2.08 ERA) and High A Wilmington (1-6, 2.78 ERA). Cooper sees the lefty as a potential no. 4 starter in the major-leagues with a fastball that sits between 89-94 mph.
Cooper believes that Kyle Zimmer and Bubba Starling could play roles with the KC Royals in 2016, with Strahm a possibility to make his debut out of the pen. He thinks that Almonte and Mondesi need more polish at AAA Omaha, with Cuthbert serving as injury insurance for Mike Moustakas at third base.