On the surface an exercise like this can look rather easy, grab all the players under 25, rate them dependent on talent and toss in but it isn’t in my DNA to not weigh risk along with ceiling to make such a list. Â When you toss in a player’s current level, possibility of not reaching their ceiling and then add in positional scarcity, in the majors and the org, my list turns out much different than that of Jason Parks or some of the other very informed scouting opinions. Â It doesn’t make either list wrong, just different and with that said here is my list of the Most Valuable players in the Royals organization under 25.
1. Salvador Perez – The young Venezuelan catcher won’t turn 23 until May 10th yet he’s already endeared himself into Royals fans hearts with his smile, hitting and throwing prowess as well as signing what could become the most lopsided contract in a clubs favor while keeping him in KC through 2019. Â While in the minors Sal was never considered more than a 2nd or 3rd tier catcher by the prospect community leaving him with a low ceiling tag. Â All that has changed as the young stud has shown a Vlad Guerrero like knack for making contact while exhibiting tons of raw power changing him into a player who could receive MVP votes when you toss in positional scarcity. Â It is that positional scarcity as well as his suddenly high ceiling which gives him the nod to the top spot in my opinion.
2. Eric Hosmer -Â A difficult 2012 season knocked the previous #1 on my list down a spot. Â It was that combined with Sal’s solid ’12 season, great Venezuelan league play and of course the fact that Hosmer plays one of the weakest valued defensive spots on the field. Â Consider those things and the fact that Hosmer must hit about 10% better than Billy Butler to really be considered valuable at his position and you come to the reasons for this decision. Â If you consider JUST offensive ceiling than Hosmer isn’t matched by anyone in the majors or minors at this point in the organization as I feel you would find many analyst and FO types who still believe this Boras client has the chops to become an MVP bat. Â It is also that Boras tag that moves “The Hos” down a spot as I doubt we’ll see Eric in anything other than pinstripes in a few years if he reaches his ceiling.
3. Kyle Zimmer -Â No starting pitcher in the majors or minors carries as much weight to the organization as the 2012 1st round pick. Â There are a couple of reasons for this. Â This Front Office group needs to prove they have the ability to recognize and develop a stud pitcher in the majors as I illustrated in my article about their draft results since 2002. Â The other is that unless James Shields signs an extension or Wade Davis fools everyone and becomes a #1 then someone is going to have to take over when Shields departs, that someone has to come from within the system. Â The only two players that have the ceiling to become a front of the rotation starter in the system currently are Zimmer and Yordano Ventura, he will appear later, yet Zimmer comes with far less risk than Ventura in terms of his projection to toss more innings as well as possessing more quality current pitches which he has flashed. Â If the big bodied right-handed pitcher can reach his considerable ceiling then the front office could breath easy as he would kill two birds with one shot.
4. Mike Moustakas -Â Another Boras client takes the fourth spot in our list yet for a somewhat different reason. Â MOOSE as everyone has lovingly called him since joining the organization at the Royals only cornerstone position has seemingly embraced taking the reigns from Alex Gordon in trying to fulfill the void left by Brett. Â Unlike Alex though Moose comes with considerable more fire and out front leadership skills making his spot within the clubhouse nearly as valuable as the things he can do on the field. Â Fans and scouts alike have seen the power that Mike can generate giving him more than just an off the field presence and new to 2012 he displayed an above average glove which helps his value mitigate his risky plate discipline. Â Considering the scarcity of valuable third baseman in the majors Moose could move himself into that first or second spot if he improved his plate discipline and average but given we’ve had those same questions in his game since he took the field in Burlington during the 2008 season I will leave him a few spots lower.
5. Kelvin Herrera -Â At this point in the list the Age 25 players become a little less valuable and possibly replaced by others in the org currently or outside of it. Â The Royals have what should be one of, if not the most talented bullpen in the majors and no one in that pen has as much talent as Herrera. Â Thanks to some magic from the K gun last season Herrera tipped the scales with the fastest average fastball in the majors which normally would be impressive but it is what he does with the change-up that makes Herrera fun to watch. Â That pitch was the 2nd most valuable among relief pitchers according to Fangraphs and should make him a mainstay in the Royals pen. Â While some believe the Royals have three or four possible closers in the pen it is Herrera that is next in line if that spot would open up as well as being the youngest current arm on that hill which makes him slightly more valuable than others that follow behind him on this list.
6. Danny Duffy -Â The King of KC Media as he should be called as the former Twitter star turned Challenger patron still holds plenty of value in the organization despite Tommy John surgery last season. Â The young lefty was tipping the scales with a ridiculous fastball and big looping curve at the time of his injury showing promise in the few starts he did make. Â It is that promise and ability to dominate lower level hitters that notches his spot in the 6 hole. Â The Royals have added talent and depth to the rotation with the additions of Shields, Santana and Davis but still may lack middle to back-end talent after a possible Ervin departure next year and later this season if Chen and Hoch can’t carry the day. Â The one arm in the system who has flashed that level of talent at the majors while still possessing the ceiling to become more is Duffy who could also fix the Best Farm System to Bust label that could be on the horizon.
7. Bubba Starling – The hometown kid with a $7 million dollar price tag carries the majority of the value for Bubba in this equation. Â The draft class of 2011 was extremely weighted with star level talent, as we are seeing so far in the minors, and Starling was considered at the time to be the elite of the elite when it came to positional players thanks to a rare set of tools. Â Fast forward a year and things are off to a slow start for the hometown star as Bubba has fallen behind Francisco Lindor, Archie Bradley, Javier Baez and Jose Fernandez in the prospect ranks, all of whom were drafted afterwards and paid less money. Â If the big price tag wasn’t enough, Bubba has the weight of being the most valuable outfielder in the org which following the Wil Myers trade is suddenly in short supply. Â Knowing the pressure that is likely placed on Bubba’s shoulders by the local fanbase was a good reason for the Royals to take it slow with Bubba but it is that pressure and anticipation that makes him my 7th most valuable piece in the org under 25.
8. Yordano Ventura – The talent is immense with a ridiculous fastball-curve combo but the risk is great as this righty has yet to develop an average change or prove durable enough to handle the innings to be an impact starter. Â Still the Royals have yet to move him to the pen, given him a start in the Futures game and have given him the nickname “Ace” (surely a play off the movie as well) all while tossing in a few Pedro Martinez comps. Â It is that talent level and belief that has him up in this position on the list but the great risk that pushes him further down. Â Even still just as a bullpen piece Ventura carries much weight as the Royals can ill-afford to pay up in the pen meaning he could have to take rolls at the backend in a couple of seasons. Â All of that comes in front of the “can’t develop pitching” label that this front office could earn in a couple of seasons if other names and players already in the org don’t take over.
9. Tim Collins – Another bullpen piece along with Herrera this Royals lefty has shown enough in the majors to be included on the WBC roster. Â There are plenty of things the Royals can’t waste money on but the bullpen is probably one of the biggest. Â This young lefthander will be getting into his more costly seasons soon which means the Royals will need him to continue performing so that he can produce quality innings in the pen and build value so they can trade him when it comes time. Â Don’t become attached Royals fans as Collins most valuable asset to the Royals is that as a tradeable piece in a year or two.
10. Adalberto Mondesi – Risk isn’t quite enough when describing a 17-year-old who hasn’t even played full season ball but it doesn’t fully engulf the great talents my #2 prospect in the Royals organization has. Â I have already recorded the numbers to how rare Mondesi’s season was at Idaho Falls in 2012 but it is that talent that puts him extremely high on this list. Â While I feel Mondesi’s ability to reach his high ceiling is much higher than Bubba’s the reason I place him a notch below on this list is due to that positional scarcity I talked about earlier. Â If the Royals lack talent in the outfield in the org they definitely don’t in up the middle talent defensively as I have three other shortstops ranked in my Top 40 Royals prospects which doesn’t include Alcides Escobar who is inked on an extremely team friendly deal of his own through possibly 2017. Â Those factors drove down Mondesi on this list despite what I believe could be Jurickson Profar level talent.
There is still plenty of young talent and a list like this is constantly changing but if some of these players reach their possible ceilings in Kansas City then the future is definitely bright at Kauffman stadium.