Royals minor-league prospect Corey Toups has put himself on general manager Dayton Moore’s radar with a strong performance at AA NW Arkansas.
The unheralded 23-year-old middle infielder signed with the Kansas City Royals as a 15th round draft pick in 2014 from Sam Houston State, following teammate Ryan O’Hearn whom the team picked in the 8th round.
Both players have thrived in the KC Royals system, with both earning promotions to NW Arkansas in their second year of full season baseball. The 5’10” 170 pound Corey Toups profiles as more of a second baseman at the major-league level due to his arm, but can fill-in at short as a utility player.
While he only has average speed after recovering from surgery on his left knee in 2013, he’s got enough base-running skills to steal 18 bags across High A and AA this season against 4 caught stealing.
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What has drawn notice, however, is Toups’ bat. In 2014, he led the Pioneer League (short season rookie league) with a .453 on base percentage in his age 21 season and slashing .335/.453/.507 overall. He earned a promotion to full-season ball in 2015, hitting .291/.369/.441 at class A Lexington.
The Kansas City Royals assigned Corey Toups to High A Wilmington out of spring training in 2016. After slashing .252/.352/.419 at High A Wilmington, whose home park has a notoriously difficult hitting background, he earned a promotion to AA NW Arkansas. Toups has hit even better at AA, slashing .291/.360/.445.
Corey Toups shows surprising pop for a guy his size, hitting 26 doubles, 7 triples, and 7 home runs in 382 combined at bats in Wilmington and NW Arkansas.
Given Toups age and pedigree, you still have to figure that he has little more than a utility player upside in major-league baseball, but that can change if his bat continues to develop. Toups has already become the KC Royals no. 30 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline, after joining the organization as a low-round lottery ticket.
Toups calling card is his bat. His career .294/.383/.452 slash line is quite good for a middle infielder, even one who has tended to be older than the competition early in his career. If he continues to hit, he will quickly move up the prospect list.