Recently we touched upon the latest Kansas City Royals prospect rankings that appeared in Monday's edition of the Kansas City Star. Along with those rankings, over the past weekend SB Nation's John Sickels released his top 20 prospects for the system over at Minor League Ball.
Sickels ranks Bubba Starling first overall, noting he has Dave Winfield-like potential in his game, but also cautions everyone because of how raw of a baseball player Starling is at the moment. On the other hand, Bob Dutton from the Star believe Wil Myers is the top overall prospect, while Sickels has him slotted second. Both writers have Cheslor Cuthbert settled in at number three, and Jacob Odorizzi penciled in fourth.
Sickels appears to be higher on Kelvin Herrera, Yordano Ventura, and Eiler Hernandez than Dutton, while the Star rankings appear to believe more in pitchers Michael Montgomery and John Lamb. Lamb, recovering from Tommy John surgery was seemingly on the same path as Danny Duffy until having surgery early last spring.
Clint Robinson isn't ranked by Sickels, but Dutton lists Omaha's designated hitter 10th overall. I tend to side more with the Minor League Ball rankings as Robinson is 26 years old and likely has no future with the Royals at the big league level. That doesn't mean he doesn't have value, but combined with his age, his days of being a true prospect are numbered.
With everything being said, if I had to rank whom I believe are the top 10 prospects in the Royals system, mine would look something like-
1) Wil Myers (He struggled in AA this season with injuries and thus saw his numbers slump, but still being just 20 years old he has all the potential to develop into a steady big league hitter).
2) Bubba Starling (It would be very easy to put Starling first overall as the sky is the limit with him, however without having played any regular season baseball for the Royals, he will settle in at second).
3) Cheslor Cuthbert (Cuthbert is 19 and showed he could more than hold his own against many older players in the Midwest League. He probably will move off third base to a corner outfield spot, but he has the ability to be another big time hitter).
4) Jake Odorizzi (In five years will be interesting to see if he becomes the star of the Zack Greinke deal. After moving to AA he struggled some with his ERA and didn't have as many strikeouts, but that shouldn't be any immediate concern as he likely begins 2012 back at Northwest Arkansas).
5) Mike Montgomery (He had a forgettable 2011 but still is certainly thought of highly in the Royals system. He looked flat out dominant in the Royals Future Stars Game in April and showed flashes with Omaha at times. He is close to the majors and will be certainly worth watching at the beginning of 2012).
6) Kelvin Herrera (No player made a bigger jump in 2011 than Herrera. He began the season in Wilmington and finished the year in the Kansas City bullpen. His first appearance with the big league club was something to forget, but he should figure to be a big part of the Royals bullpen in 2012. Could potentially be the future closer after Joakim Soria).
7) John Lamb (This is more of a benefit of the doubt ranking. Obviously a lot is riding on how he responds after Tommy John surgery, but the potential is there to be a solid big league starter).
8) Elier Hernandez (Like Starling, Hernandez doesn't have any professional experience so far and is only 16 years old. However from everything you read, he is another kid with sky is the limit potential and would qualify as first-round talent).
9) Chris Dwyer (Command on his pitches has been the story behind what is holding Dwyer back. If he can put the pieces together he could quickly climb to the big leagues).
10) Christian Colon (There have been arguments made for keeping Colon at shortstop as well as moving him to second. He needs to improve at the plate in 2012).
Outside of my top 10, here are five guys I really like and should be worth tracking during 2012-
Jason Adam (Local boy who pitched better than his 6-9 record indicated. 1.14 WHIP at age 19 in the Midwest League is something positive that opens eyes for development)
Jorge Bonifacio (Brother of Marlins player Emilio Bonifacio, the 18 year old hit .284/.333/.492 in rookie league play in 2011, has potential to build good size on his frame)
Cam Gallagher (I've read in the past that some viewed the Royals taking Gallagher in the second round in 2011 as a stretch, but he is viewed as the top catching prospect with Salvador Perez now playing with the big league team)
Adalberto Mondesi (Son of Raul, Mondesi is another 16 year old kid from the International market who has a solid overall game and will be worth following in the next few years to see if he was worth the money Kansas City used to sign him)
Kyle Smith (Along with Bryan Brickhouse, Smith was a high school pitcher who the Royals drafted in 2011. Per Dutton he features of talented curveball. He is another kid who I will be excited to follow next season).
As always, continue to check out Royals Review, part of the SB Nation network for continued Royals talk all winter long.