The KC Royals are not the only ones to notice hard-throwing AA pitcher Josh Staumont suddenly gaining command of his stuff. Baseball America just rated Staumont the top prospect in the Kansas City system as well as issuing their top 10 list for 2017.
They see Staumont as possibly a top of the rotation starter or impact reliever. Though they don’t rate his fastball as an 80 grade pitch due to lack of life, they do mention he has a sharp curve and his improved control.
Staumont zoomed past stellar 2016 rookie reliever Matt Strahm who dominated out of the pen in a late-season call-up. Third baseman Hunter Dozier ranked no. 3 according to Baseball America. The full top 10 list is below:
- Josh Staumont, RHP
- Matt Strahm, LHP
- Hunter Dozier, 3B/OF
- Eric Skoglund, LHP
- A.J. Puckett, RHP
- Scott Blewet, RHP
- Chase Vallot, C
- Ryan O’Hearn, 1B
- Jorge Bonifacio, OF
- Kyle Zimmer, RHP
The biggest surprise on this list to me was Eric Skoglund. He’s a big (6’7″) 24-year-old lefty who enjoyed a solid season at AA NW Arkansas going 7-10, 3.45 ERA with a 7.7 K/9. Skoglund lacks any plus offering, but compensates with a polished approach to pitching. His stuff suggests he’ll be no more than a low-end starter, but his pitchability might allow him to exceed this ceiling.
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Number five prospect A.J. Puckett also lacks overpowering heat, but he keeps hitters off balance by changing speeds. However, he pitched at low A Lexington this season, posting a 2-3 record with a 3.66 ERA. Fellow righty Scott Blewett also pitched at Lexington, but his curve that flashes as a plus pitch and his developing change suggest he can become a mid-level (or better) starter.
Catcher Chase Vallot sports one of the best combination of plate patience with power in the system, but he has a long way to go on defense. However, Vallot is only 20 so he has time. Twenty-three year old first baseman Ryan O’Hearn enjoyed a breakthrough season moving from High A to AA. Overall, his slashed .275/.351/.478 with 22 home runs. He also won a spot in the prestigious Arizona Fall League All-Star game.
Meanwhile, outfielder Jorge Bonifacio got back on track in AAA after two mostly lost seasons at NW Arkansas. At age 23, he could challenge for a spot in the Kansas City outfield in 2017. Finally, former no. 5 overall pick Kyle Zimmer checked in at no. 10 despite pitching a mere four innings in 2016. Perhaps off-season Throacic Outlet Syndrome surgery will allow him to pitch in Kansas City next season.
Overall, Staumont and Strahm form an impressive righty/lefty paring at the top of the prospect list. However, Baseball America doesn’t seem too hot on the KC Royals players in the high minors. Look for Staumont and Strahm to get chances to make a big impact in Kansas City in 2017, with some help from Hunter Dozier.