The Kansas City Royals have loaded up their farm system over the past few years. Of their eight first-round picks from 2017-2020, four of them have made the majors and three others are on this list. Nick Loftin is the only one that missed but is still a top 10 player in Kansas City’s organization.
Make sure to check out all of our other Top Prospect Articles.
1. Bobby Witt Jr., Shortstop
Witt is easily a top 5 prospect not just in the Royals’ system, but in all of major league baseball. He was drafted out of High School second overall in 2019 and is already dominating. Last year in 123 games between Double-A and Triple-A, Witt slashed .290/.361/.576. He also showed off his all-around ability hitting 33 home runs and stealing 29 bases. Defensively, he made just eight errors in 102 games and is as sure-handed as they come as a 21-year-old.
The Royals’ young star does everything well with no glaring weakness. He has made significant adjustments at the plate in a short time including cutting down on his strikeouts and driving the ball with more consistency. Witt will surely stick at shortstop as he has the combination of range, footwork, soft hands, and a strong arm. He threw mid-90s off the mound in High School and that cannon will allow him to make throws from anywhere on the diamond. The kid is a good bet to become the face of the Royals franchise soon and will likely become the greatest shortstop in team history.
2. MJ Melendez, Catcher
The heir-apparent to Salvador Perez in Kansas City, Melendez is making a name for himself. He cranked out 41 home runs between two stops in the minors last season while slashing .288/.386/.625. He only struck out 21.7 percent of the time and walked an impressive 14.1 percent. Both numbers are immense improvements over his 2019 season at Wilmington where he whiffed 39.4 percent to just a 10.5 percent walk rate.
The bat is certainly there and Melendez may have the most raw power in the system. Defensively, he has worked hard to improve his blocking and receiving. The kid from Florida already has a cannon for an arm. A little more time working on the nuances of catching and Melendez will be behind the plate for the Royals permanently.
3. Nick Pratto, First Base
Pratto was a first-round pick back in 2017 by the Royals. He has worked his way up to Triple-A with some ups and downs along the way. However, last year Pratto showed the potential Kansas City saw in the High School kid five years ago. Combined between Double-A and Triple-A in 2021, the lefty hit 36 homers and chipped in 12 steals with a .988 OPS in 124 games. While he struck out at a 28.8 percent clip, he also walked at 15.2 percent.
Pratto’s ability to hit the long ball isn’t the only thing the 23-year-old does well. He has the best glove of any first base prospect in the league. Multiple Gold Gloves are likely in the kid’s future, but it will ultimately be his bat that gets him to the majors, possibly this season.
4. Asa Lacy, Left-Handed Pitcher
While the first three on this list are ready to contribute in short order for Kansas City, Lacy won’t be up quite as fast. He was taken fourth overall in 2020 out of Texas A&M. In his first taste of pro ball at High-A Quad Cities, the southpaw struck out a whopping 79 batters in just 52 innings. The problem is he also walked 41. The lack of control contributed heavily to his 5.19 ERA.
Lacy has an excellent four-pitch mix. He has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and a sharp mid-80s slider. His changeup is his third-best pitch and plays well off of his two harder offerings with good fade, especially against right-handed hitters. Lacy’s curveball is a good 12-to-6 pitch that gives hitters something else to think about. The left-hander’s stuff is not the question as even when he loses the strike zone, he gets swings and misses. Lacy will need to be more consistent at pounding the zone as he moves up in the system. With the young starters the Royals already have in the majors, expect Lacy to work on harnessing his stuff before getting the call.
5. Kyle Isbel, Outfielder
The 24-year-old former third-round pick got a taste of the big leagues last year albeit for 28 games. Isbel did not look overmatched slashing .276/.337/.434 with a HR and two steals. He also looked decent in the outfield committing no errors and getting an assist in right field. Prior to being called up, Isbel logged 105 games at Triple-A Omaha and hit 15 HRs while stealing 22 bags.
His speed is his best attribute and it allows him to not just take extra bases but also track down balls in the outfield. Isbel likely will never be a big power threat but he has some pop and could be a consistent double-digit contributor in that department. He will be on the opening day roster for the Royals in 2022.
What Does the Future Hold?
As if the Royals didn’t have enough exciting arms, they drafted two more High School pitchers with their first and second picks in 2021. Frank Mozzicato was absolutely otherworldly in Connecticut last year and you can check out his player profile for a deeper look into the left-hander. Ben Kudrna was also impressive at his High School in Kansas. His player profile is also here.
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