RC releases new Top 30 list, among other notes...

Back in October, RC released our first Top 25 list to much fanfare. In the months since that time, three of the prospects on that list have been traded, and RC has had the opportunity to further evaluate the state of the organization. We saw several Royals prospects for the first time in the Arizona Fall League in November, and we’ve spent months analyzing data and debating amongst ourselves. The result is an improved, expanded list, and we proudly present RC’s new Top 30.

A quick word about list eligibility. We like the standard we set back in October, and we’ve decided to keep it, with one exception (discussed below). To be eligible for our list, position players must not have played in 50 games or had 300 plate appearances. Pitchers are broken down into two categories. The threshold for starting pitchers is 100 innings or 20 starts, while relief pitchers must not have reached 20 appearances or 50 innings pitched. In addition, anyone with over one year of Major League service time is ineligible, even if the majority of that time was spent on the DL.

Of course, RC always reserves the right to use our own discretion on an individual basis, and we’ve decided to include Leo Nunez on this list, even though he exceeded our threshold for relief pitchers last season. Since Nunez is so young, and since he’s slated for significant time in the minors this season, we believe his prospect status remains intact.

Anyhow, here's the list. RC will have our expanded prospect reports for you available shortly, but we wanted to get the list out right away. We encourage comments or questions about the list, and if you have one, feel free to post it in our comment section or in an e-mail.

RC's Top 30 Prospects:

RankPlayerPreviousPos.2006 club (projected)
1.Alex Gordon13BWichita
2.Billy Butler 2LFWichita
3.Justin Huber 31BOmaha
4.J.P. Howell 4SPOmaha
5.Chris Lubanski 5OFWichita
6.Luis Cota 6SPHigh Desert
7.Jeff Bianchi 7SS/2BBurlington
8.Chris McConnell 10SSBurlington
9.Chris Nicoll 11SPBurlington
10.Donald Murphy 92B/IFOmaha
11.Andres Blanco 82B/SSWichita
12.Brent Fisher 15SPBurlington
13.Leo Nunez NRRPOmaha
14.Mitch Maier 16OFWichita
15.Shane Costa 12LFOmaha
16.Mike Aviles 14SS/IFOmaha
17.Angel Sanchez 24SSWichita
18.Kila Kaaihue 131BWichita
19.Joe Dickerson 17OFBurlington
20.Billy Buckner 21SPWichita
21.Gary Perez 182B/SSHigh Desert
22.Juan Cedeno NRSPWichita
23.Rayner Oliveros22SPBurlington
24.Matt Tupman NRCWichita
25.Adam Donachie NRCWichita
26.Brian Bass NRSPWichita
27.Kiel Thibault NRC/DHBurlington
28.Alan Moye 25OFHigh Desert
29.Danny Christensen NRSPHigh Desert
30.Brian McFall NROF/1BHigh Desert

  • As part of our ongoing efforts to improve the quality of our site, RC is pleased to announce we've added yet another correspondent to our constantly growing team. Thanks to a tip from a loyal RC reader, we contacted Jared, the Idaho Falls Chukars equipment manager, and he has graciously accepted our request to provide photos and info from KC's Pioneer League affiliate. We welcome Jared to our team, and we'd like to point out that his addition means RC now has a correspondent for EVERY SINGLE Royals minor league affiliate. Of course, if anyone knows someone who lives in Salcedo, D.R., please contact us. We're only half-kidding about that.

    Also, we'd like to remind our readers that we are always looking for additional correspondents, so please, if you think you might have something to contribute, always feel free to contact us.

  • We'd also like to point you to our side navigation bar, which boasts a cool new feature. Over the weekend, we added a SportSpyder feed, which automatically searches the Web for Royals news. So now, instead of navigating like an animal every morning through sites like the KC Star,, or any other media outlet, you can simply come to RC to search the headlines. This promises to be a great addition to our site, and a big time-saver for all our loyal readers.

  • Finally, RC is pleased to report our Chief KC Correspondent Chris Ray has secured tickets to the Royals Forecast Luncheon on Friday. If you're also attending, you should say hello to him -- he'll be the little guy stalking Allard Baird and Mike Sweeney all afternoon. We've learned the Royals will unveil their new uniforms at the luncheon, and of course, we've also confirmed that our renderings of the new uniforms were spot-on. But we'll have more on that on Friday.

    At 1/24/2006 12:15 AM, Blogger Dave said...

    I'll start the discussion. I think I may have underrated both Buckner and Bass...Frankly, I probably wouldn't trade either for Aviles, Kaaihue, or Costa. But I decided to stick to my first thoughts on the matter, which were that ceiling aside, those three probably stand a better chance of ultimately contributing to the Major League club than Bass or Buckner.

    Also, I'm interested to see if anyone has any problems with my club projections. I see a couple conflicts there I couldn't resolve, such as having Moye back at HD and Donachie and Tupman both at Wichita. Wichita's outfield is already set with Maier, Butler, and Lubanski, and I figure they'll want Moye to get regular playing time. Of course, maybe Maier goes to Omaha? Beats me.

    At 1/24/2006 9:41 AM, Anonymous rock8888 said...

    Seems like there are not many prospects slated to be at Omaha. Is the thought to move these guys up together next year? I am going to have to make a trip to Wichita to see this team in action.

    At 1/24/2006 10:13 AM, Blogger Dave said...

    Well, the Royals lately have been using Wichita as the stepping stone to the Majors for most of their prospects, but I still think Omaha this year has a heck of a lot more young talent than last year. I'm certainly not correct about all those club projections, and one scenario could give Omaha a starting nine of something like this:

    C: Tupman
    1B: Huber
    2B: Murphy
    SS: Aviles
    3B: Mike Coolbaugh
    OF: Costa
    OF: Maier (it could conceivably happen)
    OF: Kerry Robinson

    to go along with a very interesting rotation including Howell, Bautista, Bass, Bob Keppel, and Snyder

    I still think Tupman, Maier, and Bass will probably be headed back to Wichita, but it will be interesting to watch. And Omaha is certain to have a more exciting ballclub this year, regardless.

    At 1/24/2006 10:21 AM, Blogger Dave said...

    I just thought of something else. I originally put Bianchi at Burlington because I figured he'd probably move to 2B, but really, I doubt that move will happen yet. They'll probably keep him at SS for at least another season, because you don't move someone off that position until you're sure it's the right thing to do.

    And that means that either Bianchi or McConnell is probably going to High Desert. I have no idea which one, but if I had to guess right now, I'd bet on McConnell.

    At 1/24/2006 12:03 PM, Anonymous Austin said...

    I'm definitely going to try and make it out to Wichita at some point in May or June...seeing Gordon and Butler play together is too good to pass up. I just hope they haven't been promoted to Omaha yet.

    How do you see the Royals lineup filling out in the future? Will it be Gordon, Butler, Huber? Will it be Butler, Gordon, Huber (R/L/R)? And assuming DeJesus remains in the leadoff spot, who do you bat second?

    At 1/24/2006 12:07 PM, Anonymous Gregg said...

    I think you can count on Phillips to be the starting C in Omaha, with Walter backing him up again. I think that leaves Tupman in Wichita. Where do you have Gotay? Gotta think he'll be the starting 2B in Omaha which probably puts Murphy at Wichita unless one of the two switches to a utility role.
    Other candidates for the Oroyals staff include Danny Tamayo(lock), Brandon Weeden, Adam Bernero, Ryan Baerlocher. The bullpen should include Dave Elder, Joe Nelson, Shane Nance, and Justin Huisman

    At 1/24/2006 12:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Can someone tell me what Burlington is? As in A,AA, etc. I know Omaha is AAA, and Wichita is AA, but after that, I'm out of the loop.


    At 1/24/2006 1:07 PM, Anonymous Jack Campbell said...

    I'd put Moye ahead of Kiaahue on that list, barring injury concerns. Though it was in the launching pad of High Desert last year, Moye had 20 homers in just 76 games if I remember correctly.

    At 1/24/2006 1:31 PM, Blogger Dave said...

    Gregg, Gotay was left off the list because he wasn't eligible, but I think you're right that his presence creates a problem with my Blanco/Sanchez/Aviles/Murphy scenario. Truth is, I thought I had the middle infield crunch all figured out last night, but I completely forgot to assign Gotay a spot.

    And so I'm back to square one. It seems as though this problem stems mainly from the Royals putting Blanco at 2B. If they keep him at SS, that allows both Gotay and Murphy to get full time duty at 2B, and it pushes Mike Aviles into the utility role that seems to be his destiny. Who knows, maybe that's how it will play out.

    At 1/24/2006 1:46 PM, Anonymous Nate said...

    Good list --- very logical. My only quibbles (and they're very minor):

    Leo Nunez seems like he ought to a few notches higher. I think he's still got a chance to be pretty special, if his arm doesn't fall off. But I suspect that concern might be why you have him ranked where you do.

    I'd probably flip-flop Nichols and Murphy. Donnie's got a lot less to prove. (Is that nitpicky or what?)

    At 1/24/2006 3:32 PM, Anonymous Austin said...

    Anonymous, Burlington is a low A ball club. High Desert is High A, Idaho Falls is rookie ball.

    At 1/24/2006 3:37 PM, Blogger Dave said...

    Jack, Moye is down on the list for a few reasons. First, his 76 games in HD was the first stint in which he showed any hint of reaching his potential. Second, because it came playing home games in the best hitter's park in the best hitter's league in baseball. And third, because even with the 39 Xtra base hits and the .260 Isolated power, Moye still struck out 154 times and walked only 31 times on the season.

    I bumped Kaaihue down on this list, and I maybe should have bumped him down even further. Kaaihue is pretty much the exact opposite of Moye. Whereas Moye is a tools guy with no plate discipline, Kaaihue is a plate discipline guy with limited tools. Moye's ceiling is clearly higher, but the chances of him actually reaching that ceiling are significantly lower than Kaaihue's. And that's why I've got Kaaihue several places ahead of Moye.

    At 1/24/2006 8:35 PM, Anonymous Eric said...

    Dave, good list but I have a few disputs with it. One is how do you put Alan Moye on the list and leave off Miguel Vega? Moye at Burlington had 162 AB with 4 HR and 57 SO for one SO every 2.8 AB. He still got promoted when HD needed an OF because he was 22 years old and needed to be pushed. As to be expected he struck out a bit less in the high altitude improving to one SO every 3.3 AB. Also Moye has no history of playing well offensively until his modest power showing at the launching pad in HD. Vega meanwhile just turned 20 at midseason last year and had shown great power in AZ Rookie ball at the age of 19 the year before. I realize that Vega got injured last season holding him to only 132 ABs at Burlington and yes he also stuck out 42 times (1 to 3.2 ABs) with 3 HRs but he is very young and offers a much better upside than Moye who will never hit enough to meet his ceiling of a major league 4th outfielder.
    My second dispute is that I think you have generally overvalued prospects who have only played rookie ball thus far. This is true especially for pitchers. Take Fisher for example, most of the outings he pitched at AZ he was throwing a 3IN stint. He did not generally even pitch through a lineup more than once. Yes he had great success and he should be on the list, but not higher than guys like Buckner, Nunez and probably even Cedeno. These rookie-level guys need to prove that they deserve to be moved up the list after playing a year of full season ball IMO.
    I am also surprised there is such a lack of love for Matt Campbell. I know that all of us Royal fans are frustrated with his continued shoulder problems and ineffectiveness since being drafted, but remember that he pitched well for Team USA in international play and has possibly the best breaking ball of all lefties in the organization. Hopefully he will be healthy and show us that we need to pay closer attention to him this season in HD.
    Keep up the good work Dave and I look forward to the many new facets of the site.

    At 1/24/2006 10:40 PM, Blogger Dave said...

    With regards to Moye vs. Vega, I think the chances of either ever making a contribution at the ML level are pretty low. Moye barely made the new list, and you could probably make a pretty good argument that several guys off the list ought to be in his place. I guess the difference I see between him and Vega is that Moye's actually put together a pretty solid half season, whereas Vega was drafted in 2003 and still hasn't done so. Granted, Moye's good half came in hitter's paradise, but I still find what he did far more impressive than Vega's 10 HR in his second shot at rookie ball.

    I'm far more receptive to your belief I've overranked the rookie ball guys, namely Nicoll and Fisher. But while neither has logged significant professional innings, they also haven't done anything to plant doubts about their potential, as some of the older guys like Buckner, Cedeno, and Bass have done (and Nunez is lower because he's a reliever). I know that's a pretty circular argument, but my list seeks to balance potential and performance, both good and bad. I'm a little worried that I allowed Buckner's performance in HD to skew my ranking a bit, but I'll stick with it.

    And frankly, I really like what Fisher did, much of it as a 17-year-old. He's a good-sized kid with a huge curveball, and the K:BB ratio was outstanding. I know a lot of people are very high on him, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him at a similar place (or even higher) on BA's list. Nicoll's placement might be more questionable, but since I don't know a whole lot about him other than his stats from Idaho Falls, I put more stock in his high draft position.

    And Campbell....Ehhh. I guess you can make a case for him somewhere near the bottom of the list, but I still wouldn't put him ahead of any of the pitchers already listed. And boy, High Desert sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.

    Anyway, thanks for your comments and kind words.

    At 1/25/2006 7:09 AM, Blogger baseballfan said...

    What doubts do you have about Buckner's potential? From what I've read, his curve is one of the best in the organization and his change is improving as he uses it more often. His walks were a little high but that may be due to the fact that at HD, you have to keep the ball way down. Have you seen him pitch and picked up something?
    Give Campbell a chance. He hasn't been healthy since he came to the Royals. He should be healthy this season and then he can be judged.


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