Of all the minor league squads that the Royals could be putting together this season none will be as closely watched as the first team they will be putting together in the South Atlantic League.
The talent on this squad will run directly through the middle of the field where the Royals will put together probably their greatest combination of upside talent on any minor league team that I can remember. Â That middle will include my #2 and 3 ranked Royals prospects in 17-year-old shortstop Adalberto Mondesi and centerfielder Bubba Starling as well as the top ranked catcher in the system in Cam Gallagher. Â On top of the middle of the field talent the Royals will likely feature plenty of highly ranked arms within their system on the mound. Â Lets take a look at a possible roster the Royals could put together.
1. Terrance Gore LF – Fastest player in the org
2. Adalberto Mondesi SS – Best mix of upside and current skill
3. Bubba Starling CF
4. Cam Gallagher C
5. Michael Antonio 3b – Repeat of Single A after a struggle in ’12
6. Fred Ford RF
7. Kenny Diekroeger 2b – he’ll have to battle it out with Garcia, Lopez and a couple others to win this spot.
8. Rainier Bello 1b
9. Ethan Chapman DH – great clubhouse guy and play multiple OF spots.
Carlos Garcia, Jack Lopez – The Royals face a bit of a crunch up the middle with Humberto Arteaga also in need of full-time duty up the middle. Â It is a good problem to have for the org and one they definitely didn’t have prior to the Dayton Moore regime. Â Chad Johnson – showed outstanding plate discipline while in Arizona but could need time in short season ball if the Royals want to get him regular at bats, if that is the case Parker Morin or Jin-Ho Shin could feature as backup catchers to Cam. Â Another outfielder that could figure in the mix if he takes a step forward during the spring is Elier Hernandez who could make Ford an extra outfielder and put even more prospect shine on this mix.
This crew if compiled this way would probably be the most talented group compiled at the Single A level by the Royals since that ’08 Burlington Bees squad that featured Moustakas, Giavotella, Clint Robinson, David Lough and a few others.
Pitching – The pitching could feature some big upside arms as well if the Royals wish to challenge my #10 ranked prospect Miguel Almonte who had just a brief appearance in Rookie Burlington last season. Â From reports that we’ve heard or seen from Jason Parks, Keith Law and Bill Mitchell the young right-handed starter with precocious pitching ability could handle the SALLY league quite well.
Sam Selman – If the Royals continue to take it slow with Selman he could find a spot here but the more likely spot is Wilmington.
Bryan Brickhouse – A repeat of Single A could be needed after struggling at that level last season
Christian Binford – Big, Tall with great control
Collin Rodgers – Lefty with good control
Ali Williams – Big time arm who could continue working in the rotation or find a spot in pen where fastball would play up.
Jake Junis – Drafted as part of that 2011 group of RH pitchers.
Daniel Stumpf – Lefty who dominated JUCO and Rookie leagues in ’12
Aroni Nina -Â Reaching the upper 90’s could be lethal in the pen.
John Walter – Much like Selman the 2012 draftee could get a look at High A instead of Single A.
There are plenty of other arms that could push themselves into this mix between 2011 draftees like Cesar Ogando, Dominican signees Darwin Castillo or 2012 draftees Zack Lovvorn, Austin Fairchild orÂ Jake Newberry.
The Royals spent a ton of money in 2011 on right-handed pitching in the draft and have been fairly conservative in the progression which is different from what they did with Montgomery, Duffy, Lamb and others prior. Â We will start to see in 2013 if that patience will payoff with coveted pitching prospects. Â A combination of Almonte, Brickhouse, Binford, Rodgers, Junis and Nina would make the best group since ’08 which featured Danny Duffy, Danny Gutierrez, Kelvin Herrera at different times during that championship season.
The major league team will be the biggest story in the Royals organization for the first time in quite sometime but THIS Lexington team should draw plenty of eyes as well. Â On paper it could be the most talented roster the Royals have assembled at Single A in their teams history. Â I suggest all Royals fans take spend their money on a MILB.TV subscription to checkout the Lexington feed and watch the talent GMDM, JJ and Lonnie have assembled in the SALLY league.
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