The Royal Rebuild: Off and Running
Royals’ baseball for so long was all about losing. That is what people of my generation knew for most of their lives. There were a couple decent teams with winning seasons between the ’85 team and the ’14 and ’15 teams, but for the most part it was a brutal 25 years. That was a huge part of the reason the magic of ’15 was so amazing though. That being said, we actually get to legit talk about the Royals in a rebuilding conversation, and not just about how bad will they be this season type of conversation. So even if this season is a losing season as I predicted in an earlier article, we really should be focusing on the future of this team.
The Farm System
When talking about the future you have to talk about the farm system. Well let’s face it the farm system is pretty bad right now. Which doesn’t bode well for a rebuild, but it isn’t all gloomy either. Allow me to explain why. So yes, we were the top ranked farm system in baseball in 2011. We had our homegrown studs like Hosmer and Moustakas in the system at the time. We had 9 players ranked in the top 100 prospects at that time and most of those prospects had good careers in the majors, even though some were not with the Royals. In 2014 we had the 8th ranked farm system. Much of the talent we had, had made it to the pro level and some of the other talent we had was getting traded off to make a run at a title. After the 2013 season till the end of 2015 the Royals traded away 11 pitchers from the farm system to try and make a run at a title. That is a lot of talent sent away. It crippled us for the future, which we have been feeling the last couple seasons.
In 2016, the Royals farm system had fallen all the way down to the 26th ranked farm system. So when I say to expect another losing season, the farm system rankings backs up that thought. While this is tough to handle after our successful seasons, we have to remember this pain is because we went for broke to get a title in 2014 and 2015 and we got it. So it worked out. Now we just have to build it up again, but it takes time. While being ranked that low in the farm system can be discouraging and playing poorly at the major league level is even more discouraging, we have to remember that the rankings do have a tendency to over look talented players on their way up. Players like Salvador Perez, Herrera, and Greg Holland never even broke the top 100 prospects and became All Stars and or Gold Glove winners. So there could still be a few guys in our system currently who could do very well.
Pitchers in the Draft
It took Dayton Moore 7 years to build the team last time, and many said he was ahead of schedule on his plan at that time. It has only been 4 years since the last series, so if we use the same logic it would mean we should see a legit team being built by 2022-2023. Well, one of the first things Dayton Moore did when he came here was draft Mike Moustakas and then proceeded to draft a bunch of young talented pitchers. Then he drafted additional positional players around those pitchers to build the team we all know. Well again, the Royals have been aggressively going after pitchers again trying desperately to rebuild the farm like it was in 2011 so that Royals project 2022-2023 can come to fruition. We saw in the Rule 5 draft the Royals picked up Brad Keller who has now been announced as the opening day starter and Salvy’s pick to be our Ace this season. That is a good start, but what about the young guys on the farm? Well in June the Royals drafted 5 pitchers in the first 58 picks of the draft. That is going to be huge towards our rebuild.
Brady Singer who was selected 18th overall is the 71st ranked best prospect in baseball was among those 5 pitchers. This kid will almost definitely be a starter for that 2022-2023 team. We also picked up Jackson Kowar (33), Daniel Lynch (34), Kris Bubic (40), Jonathan Bowlan (58). The odds of all of these guys making the big leagues is low of course. There is almost certainly at least one bust in the mix and at least one guy who will get traded for a need. This is just the way of baseball, but having talented pitchers in the farm was how we built the 2011 system in the first place and that many talented pitchers in one draft is exciting. The Royals pitching prospects this time around are projected more as starters as opposed to relievers. In 2011, we had several pitchers like Holland that were very clear relievers. So it will be interesting to see if we go after more reliever type pitchers in June to accompany our new potential starters. Relievers tend to develop quicker and make it to the pro level a little faster than starters do, because Starters have to build up endurance and more strategy since they face lineups multiple times. So the Royals drafting starters first actually makes a lot of sense.
As for position players and what a potential lineup will look like, they Royals do need to draft a few more high-end prospects. Dayton has said so himself, that to build a championship type team “you need 6 guys that are in the everyday lineup that have a chance to make All Stars teams, and you need 6 or 7 pitchers on that staff that can dominate.” Right now we have three position players in the farm that the Royals are excited about in outfielder Seuly Matias, first baseman Nick Pratto, and Catcher MJ Melendez. Melendez at 19 years old hit 19 homeruns in his first season and is further along than Perez was at the same age. Perez was said to be more of a defensive catcher and just an average hitter at the same age. Melendez is also ranked in the top 100 prospects and is projected to be the Royals next long term starting catcher.
Pratto has underperformed overall so far, but they see great intangibles in him and he did recently win MVP of the South Atlantic All Star Game. He has the tools necessary to be an impact player at the majors, but he just hasn’t fully matched his potential yet. Matias has been very impressive to say the least when he set a South Atlantic League record with 31 home runs despite missing of the season due to injury. While it is too early to make comparisons yet, it looks like the Royals have their new Hosmer, Moustakas, and Salvador Perez in the farm already. Other position players we currently have at the major league level that should be part of that 2022 club will be Adalberto Mondesi, Hunter Dozier and maybe Ryan O’Hearn. Most of the rest of the position players on the team will likely be gone by then. That alone has the look of a pretty solid looking team. It is enough to get excited about anyways.
So while I love baseball and going to the games, this season I am the most excited for June when the Royals will be drafting what will likely be the next best bullpen in baseball. The Royals know how to be successful with the strategy of speed, defense, and a strong dominating bullpen. With baseball so focused on the long ball, the Royals are able to focus on the type of talent they want because most teams are going to for different type of players. The 2014-2015 teams showed doing the opposite of the rest of the league has it rewards, but for now, we just have to wait and suffer a little thru the rebuild.
Let Your Voice Be Heard in the Comments Section Below
- What do you want to see the Royals do in the draft?
- Do you like what the Royals have in their farm system currently?
- Are you optimistic about the future for the Royals?