In terms of organizational depth, the KC Royals really don’t have a problem at catcher. But… I’m going to zone in on one that intrigues me.
That intriguing player is Meibrys Viloria. Like I said above, catcher is no problem for the KC Royals. With Salvador Perez at the major league level, that position is locked down. Along with Drew Butera, Cam Gallagher, and Chase Vallot also in the organization, the position is supplied.
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Viloria has always been an interesting player throughout his short career. Signed out of Colombia for $460,000 in 2013, the KC Royals busted Viloria into game action in 2014, a year in which he appeared in the Dominican Summer League and Rookie League. In 2015, Viloria saw action in rookie ball again with the Burlington Royals.
He had a very odd feat in 2015. He collected 39 hits, all singles.
Jumping to the Pioneer League in 2016 with the Idaho Falls Chukars, Viloria hit at superb level. He hit for a slashline of .376/.436/.606.
Now making his full season debut in Class A Lexington in his age 20 season, Viloria has kept up his hot hitting. He has posted a wRC+ of 114.
Not surprisingly so, this nice start to his professional career has definitely got his name on the prospect watch list. Here are some quick blurbs on him.
"While the Pioneer League is a hitter’s haven, Viloria shows a patient approach and makes repeated hard contact. He drives the ball to both gaps and has some home run power to his pull side. As a left-handed hitter who could bat .275 with 12-15 homers per year, he has more offensive upside than the typical catcher.A shortstop when the Royals first worked him out, Viloria still is learning the nuances of catching. Though he led the Pioneer League backstops with 14 errors, he has solid arm strength and the hands to become an average receiver. He’ll have to watch his weight — it’s more than his listed 175 pounds — to retain his agility behind the plate and avoid becoming a true baseclogger."
"Left-handed batter with good pure hitting skills; contact approach with power to the gaps from 5-11, 175 pound frame; lacks running speed but has good defensive tools, though needs polish to cut down on mistakes; sleeper prospect to watch as he transitions to full-season ball in 2017."
"On the offensive end, it will probably take an adjustment to Viloria’s hands to allow his natural raw power to play at maturity, but he’s hit so well thus far in pro ball that I think it’s best to let him go. Undoubtedly aided by the Pioneer League’s friendly hitting confines this year, Viloria is more of a doubles hitter than homering slugger but, largely because of his timing and above-average bat speed, still projects to have a rare hit/power combo for a catcher if he can stay there. If his body gets to the point where he can’t catch, his value will drop precipitously."
So basically in short, Viloria is a player with a good hitting approach, potential for power, and struggles at catcher.
I must agree with his offensive profile. The bat speed is so quick. He sprays the ball over the field. I think as he goes farther along, you might start to see some more power. Maybe if he could start pulling the ball more, you could see him hit more homers, as he has never hit an opposite field homer. That is when he starts launching balls. Best case scenario, you could see him getting close to 20 homers with his bat.
The defensive side of him needs work. He makes a lot of mistakes. The question remains if he can stay at catcher.
All in all, I think we should keep an eye on Viloria. If he keeps hitting, he should start climbing the prospect boards quickly.
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I like his offensive profile a lot. If the power comes, watch out.