4 prospects the KC Royals must protect from the Rule 5 Draft and 3 who shouldn't be

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The KC Royals also have players to leave unprotected with more work to do.

There are some quality Triple-A players who are on the cusp of The Show but seem unlikely to leave via the Rule 5 draft. First on that list is highlight-generating centerfielder John Rave. He ended the season in Triple-A and played in 70 games for the Storm Chasers. His defense is no joke, and Rave may make his MLB debut one day off of that tool alone. But his bat is highly suspect and needs more seasoning against Triple-A pitching.

Another player who needs more time in Triple-A is reliever Jonah Dipoto. The righty has a plus-offspeed offering in his slider, and his cutter and fastball are not too shabby either. He started the season dominant in Double-A Northwest Arkansas, pitching 10 1/3 innings with only one earned run. He continued that streak in his first Triple-A month, but control issues reared its ugly head this summer. His 6.02 BB/9 is hardly ideal, but the stuff is promising. Dipoto still has work to do, but he should do it off the Royals' 40-man roster.

The final prospect Kansas City will likely leave unprotected is one fans have seen recently, one with an endorsement from George Brett himself. First baseman CJ Alexander hit Fall League pitching easily, with two homers, one triple, and three doubles in 10 games. But the former Atlanta Braves prospect struggled to stay healthy and produce in Triple-A this season. He played in only 86 Triple-A games this season, hitting .220/.280/.423 in that span. Alexander is only one season removed from 25 home runs and 87 RBIs, but the 27-year-old infielder has work to do at the plate without complicating Kansas City's first base depth chart.

There are few easy decisions when it comes to choosing who to protect. The Royals have several players to consider, which is at least a good problem for the franchise.