The Kansas City Royals rebuild is going to require a new wave of core players. As seen in 2011 and 2012, a strong core can make all the difference for a competitive team. So who could be a part of the new wave?
While it is hard to watch the Kansas City Royals play right now, and see fan favorite players leave, all we need to do is start looking towards the future. As of right now, it seems like the Royals have a potential future core that could help push the Royals back to being competitive again. It’s just a matter of when and who will make the jump.
As hard as it is to trade players you’ve grown attached too, keeping players like Mike Moustakas, Kelvin Herrera, and maybe even Danny Duffy and Whit Merrifield provide more benefit in their trade return than being with the team for the full contract length.
So who should the Royals look at to be the next wave?
A few of the Royals current players are a part of the “next wave”. Pitchers like Brad Keller, Jakob Junis, Adalberto Mondesi, and a few others are pieces to the Royals future. While they have already made their push to the MLB level, we will look at players within the lower ranks to identify who is expected to finish up the next wave.
Offensively, the Royals next wave is spread throughout the system. Some could make the jump this year or next year, while others are going to have to wait and develop, making the jump in 2020 and 2021. Nicky Lopez, Khalil Lee, Nick Pratto, Seuly Matias, MJ Melendez are expected to lead the new regime.
When you look at where they are within the system and the positions they play if they continue to develop them they can be a solid core.
- Lopez (SS/2B) – Triple-A Omaha – Projected to make his MLB debut in 2018
- Lee (OF) – Double-A Northwest Arkansas – Projected to make his MLB debut in 2020
- Pratto (1B) – Single-A Lexington – Projected to make his MLB debut in 2021
- Matias (OF) – Single-A Lexington – Projected to make his MLB debut in 2021
- Melendez (C) – Single-A Lexington – Projected to make his MLB debut in 2021
This is probably where the Royals have the most strength, believe it or not. The pitchers who are going to be a part of the next wave are closer to being MLB ready than the offense. However, with some of the contracts the Royals currently have on the 25-man roster, they are blocked. Over the next few years that won’t be the case, though.
- Singer (RHP) – Unassigned – A projected starter
- Kowar (RHP) – Unassigned – A projected starter
- Lynch (LHP) – Single-A Burlington – A projected starter
- Lovelady (LHP) – Triple-A Omaha – Bullpen/closer
- Newberry (RHP) – Triple-A Omaha – Bullpen
- Staumont (RHP) – Triple-A Omaha – Starter/Bullpen/Closer
Similar to the offense, the Royals do have players that could be contributors, depending on the rest of their development. Foster Griffin, Eric Stout, Scott Blewett, Yefri del Rosario, Elvis Luciano, and a few of the other college pitchers drafted fit this mold.
Just because the ratings all say the Royals don’t have a very good system, that doesn’t mean they don’t have any good players.
When you look at the Bleacher Report rankings, they break down each teams Top-10 prospects. They put them into three different tiers.
- Tier 1 – Prospects who have an elite skill set and All-Star potential. These are guys who receive consideration for spots on leaguewide top-100 prospect lists.
- Tier 2 – Prospects who have a good chance of becoming at least a contributor in MLB. This is where most prospects fall.
- Tier 3 – Prospects who profile as fringe MLB contributors or young players who are still too raw to project any higher. Having one of these players ranked among your top 10 prospects is a good indication of a thin system.
When looking at the Royals Top-10 according to Bleacher Report, Matias and Singer are considered to be Tier-1 players. Lee, Melendez, Pratto, Kowar, Lopez, Staumont, Carlos Hernandez, and Griffin are all considered Tier-2 players.
Another thing to look at, most of these players are anywhere from teenagers to 21-year-old players. That means that they still have developing to do, as well as players who have not reached their full potential.
I do think that the time for the Royals to start being competitive again will start after the 2020/2021 season. I don’t necessarily think they will be competing for a World Series, but they could be competing for a playoff spot. Whether that be the Wild Card or Division is irrelevant. The Royals have shown us that it doesn’t matter if they win the Central or if they get in via Wild Card. Both avenues the Royals made it to the World Series.
The hardest thing to do right now is to wait. However, waiting, knowing that this could be the possibility soon might be why the Royals faithful haven’t abandoned ship. The Royals have the chance to regain competitive baseball sooner then they did when Dayton Moore took over in 2006.
The Royals still have a few trades to make. Those trades could add some important pieces to the Royals future plans. The rest of the trades this year, the Winter Meetings, and the draft in 2019 where they could easily be picking #1 overall are all things to consider when talking rebuild and competitive baseball.
So what do you think Royals fans? Do you believe the Royals will be competitive again sooner, or later? Do you think the above players are a part of the new wave? Are there any players you would add/subtract? Let us know below!