The Royals don’t seem to have much room in their budget and they risk losing Ervin Santana in free agency. They could pluck Yordano Ventura out of their farm system to replace Santana, but that still leaves them thin at starter. Dayton Moore made an audacious move to get James Shields last offseason and while Moore did get a three-year contract extension, you have to wonder if he’s desperate to make the Shields gamble look good. If so, Jeff Samardzija could be an option for a team like the Royals that’s on a budget but may need another piece to win now.
Here are the articles I’m digging from:
Even after the Shields trade, the Royals have a farm system that probably fits in the top third in MLB. The system shows a good mix of position players and pitchers and has up to seven players that could see Top-100 lists.
Yordano Ventura, RHP, Triple-A: 77 IP, 9.47 K/9, 3.86 BB/9, 3.74 ERA, 3.17 FIP; Double-A: 57⅔ IP, 11.55 K/9, 3.12 BB/9, 2.34 ERA, 2.56 FIP
Ventura burst on the scene last year as an undersized guy with an amazing fastball that sits in the upper 90s and can reach over 100. What really took him to the next level last year, though, was his development of a plus curve. While the change still needs work, it’s seen as average with the potential to get to plus. The concerns people have are with his height (can his body hold up?) and his command. Ventura is a Top-25 prospect in baseball who has the potential to be a No. 2 starter if he can show he’s durable, improve his command and continue to refine his changeup.
Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Double-A: 18⅔ IP, 13.02 K/9, 2.41 BB/9, 1.93 ERA, 2.83 FIP; High-A: 89⅔ IP, 11.34 K/9, 3.11 BB/9, 4.82 ERA, 3.12 FIP
Zimmer had an up and down year last year, as he struggled initially before really turning it on in the second half. Scouts love his easy mid-90s fastball and his command. He also throws several versions of curveballs and sliders, nearly all of which look like they’ll be plus. His changeup does need some work, but given his other pitches, he can probably get away with it being average. He has been bitten by the injury bug of late, with bone chips and shoulder tightness in the last year. Zimmer is another Top-20 prospect in baseball who has the potential to be an ace if he puts it all together.
Miguel Almonte, RHP, Low-A: 130⅔ IP, 9.09 K/9, 2.48 BB/9, 3.10 ERA, 2.76 FIP
Almonte is a long way from the big leagues, having only pitched in low-A, but he has mid-rotation potential. He throws a good fastball that sits low- to mid-90s with movement and he pairs it with an excellent changeup. Almonte has yet to find a go-to breaking pitch, but it seems most likely he’ll settle on a curveball. He’ll need to improve that breaking ball and his overall command if he’s going to reach his ceiling as a mid-rotation starter.
Sean Manaea, LHP: Did not pitch
The Royals gambled on Manaea in last year’s draft and they’re hoping he’s put the injury concerns that sunk his draft stock last year behind him. When healthy, Manaea shows a low- to mid-90s fastball and a good slider. His changeup is currently average, but it could become above average in time. He also shows good control. If Manaea can stay healthy, the Royals may have gotten a steal in drafting this potential No. 2 starter.
, SS, Low-A: 536 PA, .261 AVG, .311 OBP, .361 SLG, .312 wOBA
Yes, his dad is former big leaguer Raul Mondesi (and his brother is too… story for another day). This Raul is a shortstop who will play the 2014 season in High-A at the age of just 18 (he'll be 19 in July). His numbers at Low-A don’t look fantastic until you realize he spent half the year as a 17-year-old in Low-A. Mondesi projects to hit for average (he’s a switch hitter) with a little bit of pop while playing an above average shortstop. As you would expect of a 17-year-old shortstop in Low-A, Mondesi made a lot of errors, but services seem to think those will dwindle with time. He’s a Top-50 prospect and could end up as an above-average shortstop if he continues to refine his skills.
Hunter Dozier, 3B, Low-A: 59 PA, .327 AVG, .373 OBP, .436 SLG, .375 wOBA; Rookie Ball: 258 PAs, .303 AVG, .403 OBP, .509 SLG, .408 wOBA
Dozier was seen as a bargain signing so that the Royals could sign Manaea, but he’s certainly a quality prospect. Services like how refined Dozier’s game is and he projects to be solid to slightly above average in nearly every tool. Put that all together and you have an above average major league starter that could move quickly through the Royals system.
Jorge Bonifacio, RF, Double-A: 105 PA, .301 AVG, .371 OBP, .441 SLG, .360 wOBA; High-A: 234 PAs, .296 AVG, .368 OBP, .408 SLG, .359 wOBA
Bonifacio is a prototypical rightfielder who the Royals hope will eventually translate some of his raw power into home runs. He currently has a swing that doesn’t have a lot of loft and there is disagreement on how it’ll play as he moves up the ladder. His defense should be solid in right field and if his bat comes along too, he could be an average everyday rightfielder. He's the younger brother of Emilio Bonifacio, an infielder who finished 2013 with the Royals.
Bubba Starling, CF, Low-A: 498 PA, .241 AVG, .329 OBP, .398 SLG, .338 wOBA
Starling has always had loud tools, but he’s struggled to put them all together. After undergoing eye surgery midway through the year, he had an encouraging second half. Starling runs, throws and fields very well and he has the potential to have good power, but he needs to improve his poor hit tool and plate discipline. If he can do that, he’s a potential All-Star, but there’s a ton of risk with Starling.
Others to keep an eye on:
Jason Adam, Orlando Calixte, Christian Binford, Elier Hernandez, Sam Selman
Jorge Bonifacio, Jason Adam and Christian Binford
That’s about right:
Miguel Almonte, Jorge Bonifacio, Jason Adam and Christian Binford
Kyle Zimmer and Sam Selman for Jeff Samardzija and Dan Vogelbach
Pretty much any package centered around Kyle Zimmer or Yordano Ventura
Miguel Almonte, Jorge Bonifacio and Sean Manaea
This is one of the best fits for Jeff Samardzija out there, as the Royals have a variety of pitching prospects the Cubs could be interested in while also having a need for a cheap, middle-of-the-rotation starter. The question is going to be, do the Royals want to give up either of their near-ready pitchers in Ventura or Zimmer for two years of a sure thing in Samardzija? The guess here is no, but the Royals may have enough prospects on the next tier to pull it off. And if Moore gets desperate, we saw what he was willing to give up last year to get the guy he wanted.
This was a fun one to play with and it’s actually a decent trade partner, so I’m interested to hear what you guys think of the Royals and which deals you’d be happy with.