Bonus Royals prospects: Nos. 21-25
It’s time to continue my march through the bonus prospects on each of my lists. Next up: the Kansas City Royals.
Not long ago, the Royals had the label of “best farm system” bestowed upon them, with a slew of pitching (mostly left-handed) prospects. Some have made it (Danny Duffy, finally), some have not (Chris Dwyer), some have been traded (Jake Odorizzi, Wil Myers as one of the hitting prospects) and some are slowly working their way back from injury (John Lamb, who is now back on the Royals’ Top 20). As I said in the most recent Pipeline Inbox, it’s a cautionary tale to not make a huge leap from a talent-laden system to guaranteeed big league success.
That being said, the Royals system today is pretty solid, with six players in the current Top 100. Recent drafts have certainly helped, and beyond the Top 100 guys, there is some interesting, and young, talent. So this 21-25 has some potential:
21. Cody Reed, LHP: Reed was on the Top 20 earlier in the year (No. 15 at the start of the year), but came off with the additions made via the Draft. He’s going to land back on the list when it’s time for Christian Colon to graduate due to service time. The tall left-hander taken from the junior college ranks in 2013 has had an up-and-down first full season performance-wise, but his fastball-slider combination is plenty good enough. If Reed’s changeup can continue to improve, he has a chance to start, though a future in the bullpen seems a bit more likely.
22. Lane Adams, OF: A former two-sport star who could’ve played Division I college basketball, Adams has made slow progress up the Royals’ ladder, but it looks like he could be a late bloomer. His speed is his best tool, and it gets a plus grade. He’s a base-stealing threat and his speed plays well in the outfield. He’s played all three spots, though he’s only been in center this season in Double-A. He’s starting to show a little more pop as well. At worst, he profiles as a very good fourth outfielder. If the bat continues to come, then who knows?
23. Brandon Downes, OF: He didn’t have the kind of season many hoped for (a wrist injury didn’t help), as some thought Downes could move up Draft boards since there were so few good college bats in the 2014 Draft class, but he is big, strong and athletic. Coming from a program like Virginia, fresh off making it to the College World Series championship, doesn’t hurt either, and the Royals felt he was worth a seventh-round selection. He’s had a solid pro debut in the Pioneer League. He has a short, quick swing and can make hard contact to all fields. There should be more power in his bat as he matures. He’s a solid defensive center fielder with decent speed.
24. Zane Evans, C: A really strong pro debut in 2013 had many excited to see what this Georgia Tech product would do in his first full year. The fourth round pick went straight to the Class A Advanced Carolina League, where got off to a hot start with the bat, but has struggled since. He has some extra-base pop and has shown a solid approach at the plate. He has plenty of arm strength — he was Georgia Tech’s closer and hit the mid-90s off the mound — but is still working on his hands and footwork. If the defense can come, the Royals still feel with his power potential, he could develop into an offensive-minded regular behind the plate. If all else fails, they could always put him back on the mound as a power reliever.
25. Humberto Arteaga, SS/2B: Arteaga began the year ranked No. 19, but the combination of 2014 draftees and the young Venezuelan infielder’s struggles knocked him off the list. Signed to a seven-figure bonus in 2010, he’s had some difficulty establishing himself in full-season ball the last two seasons. He’s still just 20, so there’s plenty of time. Arteaga’s best tools are defensive ones. He has enough arm and range to be an above-average defender at shortstop, and he’s also seen time at second (though not as much this year). How much his bat develops will determine what his future role is. He’s an aggressive hitter who needs to add strength and refine his approach at the plate. He’s likely to always be the type who hits at the bottom of a big league lineup, but the glove might be enough to get him there, at least as a utilityman.