Royals prospect Ryan O’Hearn had drawn a little notice as a power bat with patience after the team drafted him in the 8th round of the 2014 draft from Sam Houston State. But, he’s become a full-blown prospect by dominating at High A Wilmington and AA NW Arkansas in 2016.
O’Hearn was hardly a heralded prospect in 2014. The 6’3″ 200 pound lefty-hitting first baseman was just another relatively low-round pick who joined the system that season. However, the 20-year-old raised some eyebrows from scouts when he hit .361/.444/.590 at Idaho Falls in the Pioneer League (rookie).
He continued to flash power in low A by hitting 19 home runs with Lexington and slashing .277/.351/.494. He earned a late season promotion to High A Wilmington, where he hit .236/.315/.447 with 8 home runs and 21 RBIs in 181 plate appearances. Overall, O’Hearn hit a good but not great .263/.339/.478 with 21 doubles, 27 home runs, and 55 walks in 537 plate appearances last season.
However, O’Hearn has taken a big leap in his third season in the KC Royals system.
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Ryan O’Hearn was sent to repeat High A Wilmington after spring training, where he smashed the ball in his second go-around. His .352/.408/.670 triple slash included 7 doubles and 7 home runs in 98 plate appearances. Promoted to AA NW Arkansas at the end of May, he continued to rake at the higher level by slashing .295/.357/.503 with 17 doubles and 7 home runs in 213 plate appearances.
O’Hearn is now ranked the Kansas City Royals no. 12 prospect by mlbpipeline.com, and most certainly has the eye of the front office in Kansas City.
The biggest thing I like about O’Hearn is that he’s got a nice combination of power and patience that isn’t common among KC Royals prospects. However, his downside is that he still strikes out too much, with 83 whiffs in 311 plate appearances across two levels in 2016.
At this rate, O’Hearn could earn a second promotion to AAA Omaha before the end of the season. I also expect him to get his first invite to big league camp next spring.
Maybe, just maybe, the Kansas City Royals farm system is better than most people think.