First off, Happy New Year. Let’s hope that 2021 will be a much better year than the tire fire that was 2020. Granted, the year has started with a bunch of snow in Kansas City, so that was not great, but it can only go up from here, right?
Anyways, it has been a quiet off-season around the New Year, not just in the Royals world, but in baseball in general. It make sense, honestly. In addition to players and front office members spending time with their families around this time, it is also prime football and basketball season, and thus, there isn’t a tremendous need for baseball content at this time. Thus, even though I have not posted so far in the New Year, it’s not as if I have missed anything dramatic in the Royals “hot stove” sphere the past couple of days.
However, while I was hesitant to do this so early, especially with a delayed start to the season likely (which probably has influenced the “hot stove” season), I have decided to begin my “21 in 21” Royals Prospects to Watch series for this upcoming season. Last year, I did a “20 in 20” Royals Prospects to Watch list, and in that series I focused on 20 prospects in the Kansas City Royals system who should be worth following during the 2020 season.
Unfortunately, the Minor League baseball season didn’t happen, and for most of the prospects on that list, it was a lost season for them and the Royals farm system (though Royals Player Development still did their fair share to get Minor Leaguers some much needed work and development despite the circumstances). Thus, I wanted to do a Round 2 of this list, but instead focusing on 21 Royals prospects to follow in 2021. Hopefully, the Minor League baseball season will not be affected again, especially after many teams were either displaced or lost affiliation this past off-season (the Royals lost Rookie League affiliates Burlington and Idaho Falls; they also traded low A affiliated Lexington with Columbia and high-A affiliate Wilmington with Quad Cities). There is a lot of talent up and coming in the Royals system, and it would be nice for players to not only play Minor League games again, but also fans of these Minor League teams to watch baseball in their home stadiums again, especially since they have been without professional baseball for over a year.
Before I reveal the “21 in 21” list, I wanted to go over a couple of disclaimers in terms of how I compile my list:
- This is not a pure prospect ranking by any means. Royals Review, Kings of Kauffman and Royals Farm Report focus on that stuff way better than I do (plus they have a stable of writers who focus on that as well, while I am a one-man operation). While some of my “Prospects to Watch” may correlate with prospect rankings, there will be some discrepancies, especially the lower you get in the order. So, don’t take this list as a “these are his 21 best prospects in the Royals system” kind of deal.
- With that being said, I wanted this list to focus on players who most likely were going to start the season in the Minors. There may be an exception or two, but most of these guys will not be on the active roster at all in 2021. That’s the point of the list: it’s for Royals fans to know a select number of important players in the Royals system to watch, and pay attention to, as they could be key to the Royals future both in the short term and long term.
- And thus, I eliminated the following “prospects” from consideration, mostly because they have played with the Royals in the past year or two, and I didn’t want to focus on any prospects with service time. Here are the following prospects who may be ranked, according to prospects experts, but were exempt from my list.
- Kelvin Gutierrez
- Ronald Bolanos
- Carlos Hernandez
- Nick Heath
- Erick Mejia
In the next day or two, I will begin with the No.1 Royals prospect to watch in 2021 and then go down the list from there. For anyone who has followed this series before, some profiles may focus on just one prospect, while some profiles may talk about multiple prospects on the list. A lot just depends on the timing of when I write the posts (I want to get these done before the regular season starts), but to be honest, it may be likely that more prospect profiles could be combined, especially for those who were talked about last season (and with no Minor League stats from last year to refer to).
Anyways, here is the Royals Reporter’s “21 in 21” Royals Prospects to Watch list for this upcoming season. Here is a link to the Google Sheet that also contains the list as well as their respective rankings according to Baseball America, MLB Pipeline, and Fangraphs from last year.
The “21 in 21” page is also now available here and will be regularly updated with each prospect(s) profile.
“21 in 21” Royals Prospects to Watch List
- Bobby Witt, Jr., SS/3B
- Daniel Lynch, LHP
- Asa Lacy, LHP
- Jackson Kowar, RHP
- Erick Pena, OF
- Khalil Lee, OF
- Kyle Isbel, OF
- Nick Loftin, MI
- Seuly Matias, OF
- Nick Pratto, 1B
- MJ Melendez, C
- Austin Cox, LHP
- Jonathan Bowlan, RHP
- Brady McConnell ,UT
- Brewer Hicklen, OF
- Ben Hernandez, RHP
- Zach Haake, RHP
- Darryl Collins, OF
- Tyler Gentry, OF
- Lucius Fox, MI/OF
- Sebastian Rivero, C
Honorable Mentions: Alec Marsh, RHP; Maikel Garcia, SS; Daniel Tillo, LHP; Yefri Del Rosario, RHP; Emmanuel Rivera, 3B.