Royals: Top prospect rewind, outfielder Kyle Isbel
By Jordan Foote
The Kansas City Royals’ third-round pick from 2018 is facing an important 2020 campaign as he progresses through the minor league system.
As the Kansas City Royals continue their rebuild, an emphasis will be placed on prospect development. The recent crop of college pitching provides hope for the near future, but position players will be equally as important in the grand scheme.
A third-round pick by the Royals in 2018, Kyle Isbel joined the organization after a three-year career with the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. Fresh off a season in which he clubbed 14 home runs and drove in 56 runs while hitting for a remarkable .357 batting average, there were high hopes for the lefy-hitting, righty-throwing prospect.
Isbel was quite productive in his first minor league season. After posting a .381/.454/.610 line in rookie-level Idaho Falls, he went on to hit .289 with Single-A Lexington. Kansas City couldn’t have been much more satisfied with the center fielder’s production at the time.
After starting off hot to begin his minor league career, Isbel came back down to earth this past season. Struggling in Advanced-A Wilmington specifically, he hit .216 in 52 games and completely lost all of the momentum he carried into the beginning of the season.
Needing a solid stretch of games in the Arizona Fall League, though, Isbel delivered. Over 21 games in the AFL, Isbel’s line was a very solid .315/.429/.438. Driving in 16 runs and stealing six bases over that span, he was able to make an impact in all facets of the game. He also walked 14 times after doing so just 15 times in more than twice as many games during the regular season.
Possessing good-but-not-great speed and plus instincts to play in center field, Isbel could shuffle to left field by the time he reaches the majors. His power has yet to be tapped into at the minor league level, but improvement should come with time. Overall, Isbel has a high baseball IQ and the potential to become an everyday player at the MLB level.
MLB Pipeline lists Kyle Isbel as the Royals’ No. 8 prospect, with an ETA of 2021. A lot of that prediction, though, rides on his upcoming season. Here’s to wishing him all the best of luck.