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Kansas City Royals Top-10 Fantasy Prospects

A mixture of twenty-somethings and teenagers far from reaching their ceilings, the Royals’ system offers plenty of depth but few impact players.

Our Basis

With fantasy prospect rankings, the key to knowing the usefulness of a specific player is how large and deep of a league you would need to be in for them to end up as a fantasy starter. We will be ranking 10 prospects in each system, but that doesn't mean that every one of them is useful if you play in a 12-team mixed dynasty league. With that said, we're aiming to provide useful information whether you play in a 10-team mixed, a 15-team AL-only, or a 24-team mixed.

Prospect rankings also come with the same caveat that must be rehashed every year. They represent a snapshot of how we view the players at the time of publication. There will inherently be more information published throughout the off-season, and so how we view a player may evolve significantly over time. We're going to get some of these right, we're going to get some of these wrong, and in general my reminder is to find information you trust, and use it to your advantage. If that comes from us, that's great and we're happy you're here. If it doesn't, we'll continue to work and hope that you'll keep checking in to see how we're doing.

The Tiers

The tiers are here though to provide some clarity when comparing players between different teams. It's by no means a perfect system, but the goal is to give you a general idea of which players we think are in a similar range in terms of value and ranking. Since the tiers are also expected to be relatively consistent across teams, there may be tiers that do not have prospects for certain teams.

Tier 1 - The Elite Prospects

These prospects are expected to be in the top-50 prospects overall, and have the potential to be among the top options at their position regardless of format or league size.

The Royals have no prospects in this tier.

Tier 2 - The Top 100 Candidates

These prospects are expected to be in the discussion for the top 100 prospects overall, and are expected to be starting options in all formats.

The Royals have no prospects in this tier.

Tier 3 - The Next Group of Starters

These prospects would likely slot into the 100-200 range on an overall ranking list, and would be starters in mid-depth formats, like 12 and 14 team leagues.

#1 - Jorge Bonifacio (OF)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 23

ETA: 2017

Bonifacio sits atop a strange farm system, one that includes 20-25 players whom we considered for this list. The system’s strength lay in its depth, not in its elite talent, of which there is very little. That’s not to say that Bonifacio lacks fantasy appeal. In 2016 he slashed .277/.351/.461 with 19 HR and 86 RBI for Triple-A Omaha of the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. He’s not a fast runner, so his value will depend entirely on his ability to hit home runs while maintaining a respectable average. At the moment he’s projected to return to Triple-A for more seasoning.

#2 - Hunter Dozier (3B)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 25

ETA: 2017

After a dreadful 2015 season at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, Dozier rebounded in 2016. The former first-round pick slashed .296/.366/.533 with 23 HR and 75 RBI across Double-A and Triple-A before receiving a late-season callup to Kansas City. At 25, however, Dozier barely qualifies as a prospect. Furthermore, with Mike Moustakas manning third base, it’s difficult to see where Dozier fits into the Royals’ future plans. Like Bonifacio, Dozier appears ticketed for Triple-A once again in 2017.

#3 - Chase Vallot (C)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 20

ETA: 2019

The 40th overall pick in the 2014 draft, Vallot in 2016 continued tapping into his above-average raw power. Between Low-A Lexington (82 games) and the Arizona rookie league (10 games), the young catcher amassed 15 HR and 46 RBI. He also hit 21 doubles, which helps explain how he managed a respectable .810 OPS despite a .235 batting average. He posted similar numbers at Lexington in 2015 (.219-13-40), which does call into question his development and hit tool. On balance, however, fantasy owners have reason to be optimistic about a 20-year-old who projects to remain at catcher and post 15-20 HR per season.

Tier 4 - Single League and Deep Format Plays

These prospects would likely slot into the 200-300 range on a ranking list, and would have the most value to mixed leagues with 16+ teams and single-league formats with 12+ teams.

#4 - Ryan O’Hearn (1B)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 23

ETA: 2017

A 2014 8th-round pick out of Sam Houston State, O’Hearn has put together a nice professional resume while climbing the organization’s prospect rankings. His career .288/.366/.501 slash line includes 62 HR and 69 doubles in 325 games, making him the system’s top power prospect. Like most young first basemen, O’Hearn will rely on his bat to carry him to the majors. Like Bonifacio and Dozier, however, he lacks a clear path to playing time in Kansas City. Meanwhile, an assignment to Triple-A Omaha awaits him in 2017.

#5 - Matt Strahm (LHP)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 25

ETA: 2017

Perhaps more than any other player on this list, Strahm exemplifies the strangeness of the Kansas City system. At 25, he’s barely a prospect, and there’s a chance he could become a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen, which would have justified leaving him off this list altogether. On the other hand, as a starter he has shown both a mid-rotation ceiling and the ability to miss bats, so we also could have ranked him #1. In 2016 Strahm had a good-but-not-great season at Double-A, where he compiled a 3.43 ERA with 107 strikeouts in 102.1 IP. He finished the year in Kansas City, making 21 appearances out of the bullpen and posting a stellar 1.23 ERA. He should open 2017 in the Triple-A Omaha rotation with a chance once again to reach the big leagues later in the season, this time perhaps as a starter.

#6 - Jake Junis (RHP)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 24

ETA: 2017

A 29th-round pick in 2011, Junis makes our list ahead of some high-profile-yet-floundering young starters in large part because he throws three average-or-better pitches for strikes and, like Strahm, boasts a mid-rotation ceiling. In 2016 Junis finished 9-7 with a 3.25 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 119 IP at Double-A Northwest Arkansas before struggling in a brief stint with Triple-A Omaha. Though a bit on the older side, Junis overall is a solid prospect. He’ll return to Omaha in 2017 and should be on the short list of starters for an early call to Kansas City.

#7 - Khalil Lee (OF)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 18

ETA: 2020

Following a slew of twenty-somethings, Lee is the first teenager to make this list. A 2016 third-round pick, Lee is a two-way player turned full-time outfielder who is only beginning to establish, let alone approach, his ceiling. We believe it’s a high ceiling in large part because he possesses a quick bat and a line-drive stroke. Furthermore, in his Arizona rookie league debut he muscled up for 6 HR, stole 8 bags, and posted an impressive .396 OBP. Lee, in short, looks to be a promising all-around player. We’ll see if the Royals challenge him with a 2017 assignment to Low-A Lexington.

#8 - Miguel Almonte (RHP)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 23

ETA: 2017

Almonte, it seems, has been a tantalizing prospect at least since 2012-13. With a plus fastball, plus changeup, and at least an average curveball, Almonte has the look of a mid-rotation starter at worst. But the whole never seems to equal the sum of the parts, and in 2016 Almonte bottomed out, finishing 3-7 with a 5.55 ERA and 42 walks in 60 IP at Triple-A Omaha. In August he was demoted to Double-A, where he made 11 largely unsuccessful relief appearances. The guess here is that the Royals wipe clean the slate and put Almonte back in the Triple-A Omaha rotation. If so, and if he performs, he’ll retain some potential fantasy value, but those are big “ifs.”

#9 - Josh Staumont (RHP)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 23

ETA: 2018

On talent alone, Staumont belongs closer to the top of this list than the bottom. A second-round pick in 2015, the young righthander brings an 80-grade fastball that routinely touches triple-digits. He has followed up a strong finish to the 2016 season with a very good performance in the Arizona Fall League, including pitcher-of-the-week honors in late October. The only question with Staumont--and it’s a big one--is whether or not he’ll remain in the rotation. To say that he has been plagued by control problems would be a gargantuan understatement; he’ll have to improve on his 104 walks in 123.1 IP if he hopes to reach his ceiling as a frontline starter.

#10 - Seuly Matias (OF)

Age on Opening Day 2017: 18

ETA: 2020

The second teenager to make our list, Matias offers perhaps the most promising long-term power profile in the system. In 2016 he tied for the Arizona rookie league lead with 8 HR and slugged .477 though he did not turn 18 until September. He ranks behind teammate Khalil Lee, however, because of Lee’s more patient approach, resulting in more walks and fewer strikeouts. Matias, however, has plenty of time to iron out those issues and could join Lee in the Low-A Lexington outfield next season.