Kansas City built its 2015 championship with a nucleus of position players who came up through its minor league system. When the Royals needed a couple of extra pieces for the stretch run near the trade deadline, General Manager Dayton Moore traded five developing pitchers to get them.
This is what Moore envisioned the Kansas City franchise becoming when he took the job in the summer of 2006 — contending for titles at the major league level while continuing to build for the future within the farm system. The Royals appear to be strong in both areas as the start of the season approaches.
“Our general manager does a tremendous job of shaping the culture and leading our organization in the right direction,” Ronnie Richardson said. “Our scouts continue to do a great job of targeting Royals-type players. It’s our job as a minor league department to develop those players. That’s what it’s all about.”
Richardson, Kansas City’s second-year director of minor league operations, took a few minutes this week while at spring training to chat about some of the top prospects in the Royals organization. Omaha is expected to be the starting point for a few of them (like starting pitchers Kyle Zimmer and Miguel Almonte) this spring. Others (like outfielder Bubba Starling) may join the Storm Chasers this summer.
Baseball America ranked Zimmer, Starling and Almonte — in that order — behind infielder Raul A. Mondesi on its preseason list of top 30 Kansas City prospects. Mondesi, the son of former MLB All-Star Raul Mondesi, made his big league debut in the World Series — the first player ever to do so. The switch-hitting, 20-year-old middle infielder was with the big league club throughout spring training.
“We just want to be able to continue to help him develop the best we can,” Richardson said. “As of right now, he’s still in major league camp so he’s still competing for a major league opportunity. If that changes, we’ll look for him on the minor league side and we’ll do whatever we can to continue to prepare him to be available when the team needs him in Kansas City.”
Almonte, like Mondesi, made his major league debut last season. He and Zimmer, the Royals’ No. 1 draft pick in 2012 who has battled injuries as a pro, were optioned to Omaha to begin the season. But Richardson said Kansas City liked what they saw from Almonte last season when he was called up in September.
“We don’t like putting a timetable on our players. They tend to tell us when they’re ready to take that next step and compete,” he said. “Almonte was able to do that last year and did a tremendous job working out of the bullpen for the first time in his career. He really competed well and made a good impression on the major league staff. He looks to start the season in Omaha as one of our starting pitchers. We believe he has a tremendous upside as a right-handed pitcher at the major league level.”
Starling hasn’t moved through the system as rapidly as expected. Still, the former Nebraska football recruit, who landed the largest signing bonus ($7.5 million) in franchise history after being drafted fifth overall in 2011, is making progress. The center fielder improved at the plate in 2015 and was named the top defender in the Royals’ minor league system. He was optioned back to Class AA Northwest Arkansas to begin this season, but Omaha may not be far behind if he starts the year well.
|Active Talent Ratings||Batting||Speed||70||Power||75||Contact||24||XBH||75||RBIs||46||Runs||68||Hitting||40||Durability||69||Team||.482||Ratings Explained|
|2014||Wilmington Blue Rocks||Caro||A+||kca||16||cf||21||132||482||67||105||23||4||9||54||17||2||49||150||13||0||5||0||4||.218||.304||.338||.642||163||36||549||.293||.120||.253||.291||8.93||27.32||3.06||1.64||53.56||34.29|
|2015||Wilmington Blue Rocks||Caro||A+||kca||16||cf||22||12||44||6||17||4||0||2||12||2||1||7||17||0||0||0||1||0||.386||.471||.614||1.085||27||6||51||.600||.228||.409||.459||13.73||33.33||2.43||3.92||22.00||35.29|
|2015||Northwest Arkansas Natura||Tex||AA||kca||6||cf||22||91||331||51||84||19||4||10||32||4||5||30||91||2||1||2||1||3||.254||.318||.426||.744||141||33||366||.319||.172||.260||.322||8.20||24.86||3.03||2.73||33.10||39.29|
|2015||Minor Totals (2 teams)||Minor||�||�||�||�||103||375||57||101||23||4||12||44||6||6||37||108||2||1||2||2||3||.269||.337||.448||.785||168||39||417||.346||.179||.277||.339||8.87||25.90||2.92||2.88||31.25||38.61|
|2016||Northwest Arkansas Natura||Tex||AA||kca||6||cf||23||62||233||28||43||15||1||5||23||10||1||15||81||6||0||1||0||4||.185||.251||.322||.573||75||21||255||.257||.137||.240||.252||5.88||31.76||5.40||1.96||46.60||48.84|
|2016||Omaha Storm Chasers||PCL||AAA||kca||30||cf||23||47||166||14||30||8||0||2||17||1||0||7||64||0||2||1||0||2||.181||.213||.265||.478||44||10||176||.277||.084||.133||.209||3.98||36.36||9.14||1.14||83.00||33.33|
|2016||Minor Totals (2 teams)||Minor||�||�||�||�||109||399||42||73||23||1||7||40||11||1||22||145||6||2||2||0||6||.183||.235||.298||.533||119||31||431||.265||.115||.195||.235||5.10||33.64||6.59||1.62||57.00||42.47|
|2017||Omaha Storm Chasers||PCL||AAA||kca||6||cf||24||80||278||35||69||14||1||7||21||5||4||19||65||3||3||0||0||9||.248||.303||.381||.684||106||22||303||.301||.133||.205||.297||6.27||21.45||3.42||2.31||39.71||31.88|
|Minor League Totals - 6 Season(s)Filter||602||2169||287||508||112||16||58||255||71||17||208||666||33||6||14||5||32||.234||.309||.381||.690||826||186||2430||.308||.147||.267||.000||8.56||27.41||3.20||2.39||37.40||36.61|
|AAA Totals - 2 Season(s)Filter||127||444||49||99||22||1||9||38||6||4||26||129||3||5||1||0||11||.223||.270||.338||.608||150||32||479||.293||.115||.178||.000||5.43||26.93||4.96||1.88||49.33||32.32|
|AA Totals - 2 Season(s)Filter||153||564||79||127||34||5||15||55||14||6||45||172||8||1||3||1||7||.225||.290||.383||.673||216||54||621||.295||.158||.252||.000||7.25||27.70||3.82||2.42||37.60||42.52|
|A+ Totals - 2 Season(s)Filter||144||526||73||122||27||4||11||66||19||3||56||167||13||0||5||1||4||.232||.318||.361||.679||190||42||600||.314||.129||.266||.000||9.33||27.83||2.98||1.83||47.82||34.43|
|A Totals - 1 Season(s)Filter||125||435||51||105||21||4||13||63||22||3||53||128||6||0||4||1||8||.241||.329||.398||.727||173||38||498||.309||.157||.322||.000||10.64||25.70||2.42||2.61||33.46||36.19|
|Rk Totals - 1 Season(s)Filter||53||200||35||55||8||2||10||33||10||1||28||70||3||0||1||2||2||.275||.371||.485||.856||97||20||232||.372||.210||.395||.000||12.07||30.17||2.50||4.31||20.00||36.36|
|Average Minor - Per 162 games||162||584||77||137||30||4||16||69||19||5||56||179||9||2||4||1||9||.234||.309||.381||.690||222||50||654||.308||.147||.267||.000||8.56||27.41||3.20||2.39||37.40||36.61|