KC Royals Prospect News: Catching up on the minors

(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

The KC Royals, criticized so often this season for not promoting and playing its young prospects, reversed course recently and are packing their lineups with youngsters who’ll make or break the club’s chances of soon contending.

At no time was this refreshing trend more successful than last weekend, when letting the kids play fueled the 13-5 Sunday demolition of Boston and Saturday’s electric walk-off win over the Red Sox.

Most of the “kids” arrived in the majors for the first time this year. But other Kansas City prospects are also making news down in the minors.

He beat Chicago for the KC Royals Tuesday, but he’ll be a Storm Chaser today.

Jonathan Heasley did exactly what he was supposed to do at Kauffman Stadium Tuesday night. Summoned to Kansas City as the 27th man for the Royals’ doubleheader with the White Sox, he started the nightcap and gave Mike Matheny 5.1 good innings. He struck out five, walked only one, and left trailing by a run. Although he took the loss (the Sox won 3-2), his effort was better than the six runs (four earned) he surrendered in 3.1 frames against the Yankees 11 days ago, and undoubtedly figured in his demotion to Omaha.

And despite his decent Tuesday showing, Omaha is where Heasley will be today, not by his or the Royals’ choice, but instead because 27th men must, by rule, return to the minors immediately after their doubleheader concludes.

Heasley is 1-7 with a 5.82 ERA in 12 KC starts this season, and 1-1, 3.93 in eight Omaha starts.

His time in the KC Royals organization may have ended for this pitcher.

This was Eric Skoglund’s ninth season with Kansas City. A third round draft pick of the Royals in 2014, the lefthander has flashed moments of brilliance, suffered bad years, and battled injuries. He beat Justin Verlander in his big league debut five years ago, a victory that today constitutes one-half of his major league wins. He served an 80-game PED-related suspension in 2019 and missed all of last season after an injury.

Through it all, the Royals kept stuck by Skoglund, and he reappeared earlier this season on minor league rehabilitation assignments. He showed promise, striking out six and walking one in six Double-A innings and earning reactivation at Triple-A Omaha; the notion of him getting another chance in Kansas City seemed plausible.

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Things didn’t work out so well with the Storm Chasers—he pitched six times in relief and gave up five runs and five walks in eight innings, a collective effort that resulted in his release Tuesday.

The Royals have been patient with Skoglund and brought him back before. It’s doubtful they will again.

These 2 KC Royals prospects have arrived at the highest minor league level.

Good news came to a pair of Northwest Arkansas Naturals Tuesday. Infielder Nick Loftin and catcher Logan Porter were promoted from the Double-A Naturals to Triple-A Omaha:

Originally an infielder, Loftin spent most of this season in center field for NWA, and was slashing .270/.354/.422 with 12 home runs, 47 RBIs and 24 steals when the call to Omaha came. Besides catching, Porter saw time at first, third and DH for the Naturals and had 10 homers, 45 RBIs, and a .437 OBP and .301 average.

Loftin started at third for Omaha Tuesday and went 0-for-4 with a walk; Porter started at first and was 1-for-3.

MLB Pipeline ranks Loftin as the organization’s third best prospect. Porter was instrumental in Quad Cities winning the High-A Central Championship Series last season.

KC Royals affiliate Quad Cities made minor league history Tuesday night.

Quad Cities played in the first “MiLB at Field of Dreams” game Tuesday evening.

And won.

The River Bandits beat Cedar Rapids 7-2. Juan Carlos Negret went 2-for-4 with a home run, his 14th of the year, and drove in three runs. Peyton Wilson hit his seventh homer and starter Chandler Champlain, acquired by the Kansas City organization in the trade deadline deal that sent Andrew Benintendi to the Yankees, struck out seven, didn’t walk a batter, and surrendered two runs in 6.1 innings to earn the win.

Wilson is rated the organization’s 13th best prospect by MLB Pipeline.

How long will the KC Royals keep outfielder Drew Waters down on the farm?

Drew Waters didn’t look much like MLB Pipeline’s No.1 Atlanta prospect, which he was when the Braves decided to trade him to the Royals exactly a month ago for their Competitive Balance pick in this season’s amateur draft. He was hitting .246 at the time with five homers and 16 RBIs in 49 games at Triple-A Gwinnett.

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The move to the Royals has been nothing less than a resounding success for Waters. In the 21 games he’s played at Triple-A Omaha, he’s already matched his homer total at Gwinnett and has driven in 11 runs. He’s also hitting .325 with a .417 OBP and 1.019 OPS.

Should his stellar hitting continue, don’t be surprised to see Waters land in Kansas City when big league rosters expand Sept. 1.

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We’ll be back soon with another minor league update.