The Kansas City Royals have a farm system that is loaded with top-tier college arms, with several looking to get their first crack at the big league rotation this season. From top to bottom, the Royals have a top 15 farm system and with some breakouts this season, they could move higher. This top five includes two promising bats and three of the aforementioned college arms.
Make sure to check out all of our other MLB Team Top Prospects.
1. Bobby Witt Jr. – SS
The Royals used their second overall selection in the 2019 MLB Draft on the Texas high school shortstop and signed him for the third-highest Draft bonus in history at $7,789,900. The son of former MLB pitcher Bobby Witt, Junior is a true shortstop with a strong arm with a ton of pop in his bat. Witt drives the ball to all fields and has started to work on improving his plate approach that led to swing-and-miss tendencies during his pro debut. He will likely start at Double-A Northwest Arkansas this season but could get the call to the show sooner than most prep prospects. In his work at the alternate site in 2020 and instructional work this year, the 20-year-old has tapped into his raw power. Evidence to that was seen in his 484-foot homer that he barrelled up in the Royals’ Spring Training game on Monday.
Been waiting for a good view of Bobby Witt Jr.'s home run today. @Royals provided it, and good lord is it is glorious: 484 feet.
Oh, and he's only 20 years old. pic.twitter.com/wUIwIGku7t
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 8, 2021
2. Daniel Lynch – LHP
One of three pitchers the Royals selected in the first round of the 2018 MLB Draft, Lynch was taken at No. 34 overall out of the University of Virginia. The other two were Brady Singer, who graduated from the farm last season, and the fourth guy on this list in Jackson Kowar. The six-foot-six left-hander was outstanding in his pro debut and even made it up to Single-A Lexington where he made nine starts. Lynch made 12 starts overall between Lexington and Rookie-level Burlington and he struck out over 30% of the batters he faced while walking just eight and posting a 1.013 WHIP over 51.1 innings. He is a quick developer as he was right around an average pitcher out of college as far as results go.
Lynch was pitching well at High-A Wilmington before he suffered through some arm issues which sidelined him for seven weeks. He finished off the year very well upon his return and carried that over into the Arizona Fall League. The lefty started three games in Arizona and gave up just one run, six hits, and three walks while striking out 12 over nine innings. Lynch has a solid three-pitch mix of fastball, slider, and curveball. His fastball has started to hit the upper-90s while his late-action slider is his best secondary pitch, which he has worked into being a potential plus option. Add in his average curveball and his advanced feel for his pitches, and Lynch will make his way into the Royals’ rotation very soon.
3. Asa Lacy – LHP
Continuing to load up on pitching, the Royals drafted Lacy out of Texas A&M with the fourth overall pick this past June. Many people had Lacy ranked as the top pitching prospect in the draft. He solidified a top selection with 46 strikeouts, two earned runs, eight walks, and nine hits over 24 innings in four starts in his junior year at A&M. He has great deception and four pitches that flash plus, with a mid-90s fastball, wipeout slider, curveball, and changeup. Lacy still has a lot of raw talent left to be untapped and will have to adjust as he faces higher-level competition. If he can develop quickly and work well at every level, he could be a future front-end starter.
4. Jackson Kowar – RHP
Joining Singer as the second Florida Gator pitcher to go to the Royals in 2018 was Kowar at the 33rd overall pick. Kowar has always been sort of viewed as the Watson to Singer’s Sherlock, but he is still a very solid pitcher. He has a great pitching mix with his changeup being his best pitch as it is very nasty. His go-two combination is his fastball-changeup and has started to develop his curveball into at least an average pitch. Kowar pitched very well at AA in 2019 as he struck 78 and walked just 21 in 74 1/3 innings over 13 starts.
There is still work to be done in the command area but he has handled the starter workload and his six-foot-five 190 pound frame is that of a starter. Kolar will likely start the year at Triple-A Omaha and could make his MLB debut at some point in 2021.
5. Erick Pena – OF
The Royals signed MLB Pipeline’s No. 5 international prospect for the 2019-20 signing period for $3,897,500 right after the signing period opened on July 2. Scouts compared the Dominican native prospect to a young Carlos Beltran and raved him for his advanced feel for the plate, swing, and contact abilities. Pena has yet to make his pro debut but has already started to get buzz for what he has done in instructs, tapping more into his power and improving his swing-and-miss approach. His swing produces hard contact to all fields and that is easily his best tool. Pena has focused more on his offensive development while he projects as an average defender in the outfield. He is still very raw but time will only tell how he develops, but all eyes will be on him for his pro debut this season.
Follow Alex Kielar on Twitter @AlexKielar
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images