Marc Hulet of Fangraphs is running through his annual list of a team’s best 15 prospects and today it was the Kansas City Royals’ turn at bat. Familiar names are found at the top of the list for those who typically pay attention to prospect rankings, although Hulet doesn’t automatically throw Bubba Starling at the top like some others.
Instead, he has Wil Myers as the Royals best overall prospect followed by starting pitcher Mike Montgomery. For Myers, Hulet says not to worry about the slightly down year last year and writes:
Drafted as a prep catcher, the organization made the difficult decision to move Myers to right field so his defensive development would not hold him back and would allow his potentially-plus bat to dictate his movement through the system. After a dominating performance in A-ball in 2010, Myers struggled at double-A and was merely “average” according to his wRC+ of .104. He continued to show patience (12.5 BB%) but his strikeout rate rose to almost 21 K% and his average slipped to .254. His power output also dipped considerably with his isolated power rate hitting .138. A knee infection knocked Myers out from mid-May until early June and could be somewhat to blame for his struggles; his best power displays came in April and August. Perhaps feeling that he had something to prove, Myers lit the Arizona Fall League on fire after being assigned there for the fall. He hit .360 with 14 extra base hits in 23 games (wRC+ of 178). With the strong showing in the AFL, Myers will likely move up to triple-A for 2012 and could reach Kansas City before the end of the year.
Hulet also believes that Montgomery should be up this season as well and is even surprised he hadn’t made it before now. The state of the Royals starting rotation should give Montgomery every chance if he earns it. Hulet writes:
There was some hope that Montgomery would already be anchored in the Royals’ starting rotation but injuries and ineffectiveness have slowed his ascent. The good news is that the left-hander was able to provide 150 innings of work at triple-A in 2011. The bad news is that he floated a high ERA for much of the year and eventually got it down to 5.32 (4.30 FIP). His walk rate was a career high at 4.12 BB/9 and he allowed more than nine hits per inning, also the highest of his time in pro ball. Despite his issues Montgomery has the makings of a No. 2 starter and his repertoire includes a low-90s fastball that can touch 95 mph, a potentially-plus changeup and a developing curveball. Although there have been no direct correlations, Montgomery hasn’t been as sharp since he suffered a strained forearm in 2010 and missed almost two months. If he truly is back on solid ground in 2012 Montgomery should not need much more seasoning in the minors and could be up for good by midseason.
Bubba Starling came in at No. 3, while some new names like Brett Eibner and Jason Adam enter the list.