The KC Royals farm system is painfully thin at the moment. That is what happens after the mass graduations in recent years and nearly a decade of below-average drafting and development. Royals fans want to see an immediate improvement in the farm system, but that takes time. Patience is key with any prospect and the minor leagues as a whole.
Let's look though the KC Royals best prospect options at catcher.
There remain intriguing prospects at every level of the Royals system. Let's take a look at the system's top five catching prospects and why I am not buying what other evaluators are selling.
5. Ricson Gonzalez
Born: 6/16/2005 in El Tigre, Venezuela
Ricson Gonzalez played in 34 Dominican Summer League games this season, most of those for the Royals Gold squad. The 18-year-old righty has a decent 6-foot, 170-pound frame that he can grow into. The transition from the Gold to Blue squad negatively impacted his stats, but his overall season and select clips are promising.
2023 stats: 90 AB, .244/.398/.344, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 16 BB, 21 SO
4. Logan Porter
Born: 7/12/1995 in Phoenix, AZ
Logan Porter made his long-awaited MLB debut on Sept. 12, 2023. He played in 11 games for the Royals, after playing in 110 games for the Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers. He hasn't graduated from prospect status yet, but Porter figures to compete for the backup catcher spot ahead of the 2024 season. The 28-year-old may not have a high ceiling, but he has a decent floor.
2023 MLB stats: 31 AB, .194/.324/.323, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 5 BB, 11 SO
2023 MiLB stats: 379 AB, .232/.339/.377, 13 HR, 48 RBI, 60 BB, 113 SO
3. Ramon Ramirez
Born: 6/15/2005 in Porlamar, Venezuela
When a reputable prospect evaluator compared Ramon Ramirez's defense behind the plate to Salvador Perez at 18, that got my attention. Then his bat control numbers are even more impressive. He played in 41 DSL games, walking more than he struck out with a 168 wRC+. Ramirez might be the hottest prospect in the Royals system. Hopefully, he will come to the States soon and keep the momentum rolling.
2023 stats: 122 AB, .344/.440/.615, 8 HR, 27 RBI, 21 BB, 18 SO
2. Blake Mitchell
Born: 8/03/2004 in Clear Lake, TX
Blake Mitchell ended the 2023 season as Kansas City's top prospect, according to MLB evaluators. Plenty of Royals fans were not happy the team drafted a high school catcher eighth overall in the 2023 MLB Draft. The lefty has a patient approach at the plate, evident by his 32.7% walk rate in 13 Arizona Complex League games. But he struggled to turn hard contact into hits. He will enter the 2023 season with something to prove with plenty of detractors already.
2023 stats: 34 AB, .147/.423/.176, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 17 BB, 14 SO
Carter Jensen is the KC Royals top prospect at catcher.
I am stubborn. I refuse to board the "Blake Mitchell is Kansas City's top prospect" train until he plays in affiliated ball. MLB.com has him as the Royals' top prospect, but his poor showing in limited Arizona Complex League action did not convince me he should be.
I would likely pick Carter Jensen over Mitchell, even if Mitchell did show out after the draft. Jensen is just too enticing of a prospect for me. His 2023 stats in High-A Quad Cities are eerily similar to his 2022 season in Low-A Columbia, but that consistency is a welcome development. Baseball fans often see a younger prospect struggle with each promotion, but Jensen has handled each with relative ease.
Jensen has a very disciplined approach at the plate. His 18.5% walk rate ranks 13th among all minor league batters with at least 300 at bats this season. It is one of the few metrics that a Royals prospect ranks so highly amongst the hundreds of minor-league players.
Jensen is still struggling with the ball in play, sadly. His .211/.356/.363 slash line leaves much to be desired, but his .267 BABIP is likely fueling these issues. He has the power, as evident by his 22 home runs over the past two seasons. If he can get a few more lineouts to turn into doubles or increase his opposite-field hitting rate, that would drastically improve his MLB ceiling. His 24.9% line drive rate is impressive and ranks second among all qualified Royals minor leaguers. All the metrics are there for Jensen to succeed, but some bad luck and bad ball placement are holding him back.
I am also bullish on Jensen, thanks to his improvements behind the plate. When the Royals drafted him in 2021, there were concerns about his long-term ability behind the dish. It is not uncommon for a catcher to transition to a different position, depending on his athletic profile. But Jensen looks much better behind the plate than last season. He still has some work to do in blocking wild pitches, but I expect he will look better as the quality of his batterymate improves.