KC Royals Prospects: A big change at the top

The latest MLB Pipeline prospect ranks are out. The Royals have a new No. 1.
Angela Piazza/Caller-Times / USA TODAY
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(Editor's Note: The original version of this story about KC Royals prospect Blake Mitchell identified his high school as "Corpus Christi, Texas' Sinton High School." Sinton High School is actually in Sinton, Texas. We apologize for any confusion).

Blake Mitchell is a 19-year-old who not that long ago spent his days at Sinton (Texas) High School, but now works for the KC Royals, toiling away at his new trade as a professional baseball player in the Arizona Complex League.

Royals fans who closely follow the annual MLB amateur draft know who Mitchell is. He's the prep catcher on whom the club spent its valuable first-round pick just a few weeks ago, a selection that immediately ignited a social media firestorm of criticism. How could the Royals, the rants went, use their first choice on, of all things, a high school backstop when such players rarely become big leaguers?

Much of the criticism waned as time passed and fans learned more about him, and Mitchell reportedly signed for almost $5 million.

And now, with only seven professional games to his name through Thursday, Mitchell sits atop a lofty perch—in its newest Kansas City rankings released late Thursday, MLB Pipeline rates Mitchell as the franchise's No.1 prospect.

Blake Mitchell moved Gavin Cross out of the top KC Royals prospect spot

Pipeline naming Mitchell as the Royals' best prospect reflects two things—how good its raters believe he is, and the struggles of Gavin Cross, the power-hitter the club chose in the first round of last year's draft.

Mitchell's wealth of potential is a given, but it's far too early to tell whether he'll live up to it. In only seven ACL games, he's walked nine times and has a double, three RBIs, and an excellent .481 OBP. But he's also striking out too much (eight times in 17 at-bats).

And while Mitchell starts to find his way, some might say Cross may, at least temporarily, be losing his, The player who last summer slashed .312/.437/.633, homered eight times, and drove home 25 runs over 29 games split between the ACL and Low-A Columbia, is hitting only .203 with a .298 OBP, although he has 12 homers and 58 RBIs, across 96 games with High-A Quad Cities and two with Double-A Northwest Arkansas.

Don't, however, be surprised to see Cross recapture his form and give Mitchell a run for the No. 1 spot.

Five other 2023 draft picks made Pipeline's Top 30 KC Royals prospects list

Although Pipeline didn't rank a single Kansas City minor leaguer among its latest Top 100 minor league prospects, it chose five players the Royals took in last month's draft to join Mitchell on its list of Top 30 KC prospects.

Outfielder Carson Roccaforte, the club's Competitive Balance-B pick, is ranked 16th; pitcher and ninth-round choice Hunter Owen came in at No. 19; outfielder and 13th-round selection Jared Dickey is ranked 23rd; fifth-rounder and outfielder Spencer Nivens is right behind Dickey at 24th; and third-round pick and pitcher Hiro Wyatt is rated 26th.

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