Kansas City Royals Top Prospects 2024
Kansas City Royals top prospects for dynasty fantasy baseball including: Ramon Ramirez, Mason Barnett, David Sandlin, and more.
Welcome to our team prospect rankings. Over the next two months, I will be pumping out team top prospect rankings and evaluations for dynasty baseball. These reports are generated from live looks, film study, and advanced data analysis to bring you in-depth fantasy scouting reports on every player you need to know, with today’s being the Kansas City Royals Top Prospects.
Not all 30 players in each writeup will be dynasty relevant, but many will, and if you play in a deep league, certainly most of the names will be worth knowing.
You can check out our previous Top Prospect Rankings:
Each player has a detailed write-up. The top 10 rankings and writeups are free for all, but the rest of the top prospects are for paid subs. Get an edge in your dynasty leagues and get in on some of these players first! Let’s get to it: our Kansas City Royals top prospects.
1. Ramon Ramirez, C, 18, 6’0”/180
Signing for just $57 thousand in the 2023 international signing class, Ramirez appears to have been a fantastic find by the Royals after his tremendous Dominican Summer Leageu stint in which he mashed eight home runs and added nine doubles in 150 plate appearances while slashing .344/.440/.615. Ramirez walked more than he struck out, which is not all that uncommon for disciplined hitters in the DSL, but in Ramirez's case, the underlying data backs it.
Making contact on 90 percent of pitches in the zone, according to Trackman data, exhibits great swing decisions, leading to low chase rates. While it is a good idea not to put too much stock into DSL data, it is hard to ignore the kind of data that Ramirez posted, given that he was 17 years old and already has an impressive frame.
From a power standpoint, Ramirez posted a 103 mph 90th percentile exit velocity, which is high-end for his age. He paired that with a 108 mph max and an impressive hard-hit rate. While it is a smaller sample of just 41 games, the numbers suggest that Ramirez could have more power as he matures, considering the 90th percentile was already in line with the MLB average.
*Data from Aram Leighton of Just Baseball. Check out his Top 100 here.
The power comes easily from a strong frame, quick hands, and a barrel that stays in the zone for a long time. Ramirez has even shown power with a flick of his wrist on a pitch down and away, sending it to the opposite field. He hits where pitches are thrown and doesn’t try to do too much when he doesn’t get a chance to get to his pull-side power.
The maturity at the plate is impressive for someone 17, but we need to see more than the DSL sample. But if the success continues at the Complex and Single-A in 2024 and the data carries over, his stock is going to soar.
FFG: Power+Hit C
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: .280/.350/25 HR/5 SB
2. Mason Barnett, RHP, 23, 6’0”/218
A third-rounder in 2022 out of Auburn, Barnett got an aggressive assignment starting the year in High-A despite only pitching eight professional innings prior. Between High-A and Double-A, Barnett tossed 114.2 innings pitched with a 3.30 ERA and 137 strikeouts to 50 walks.
Barnett leads the way with his mid-90s fastball that nearly reaches triple-digits when at its best. When he locates it up, he misses bats, but the command could be more consistent with it.
The slider sits 85-87 mph, which is sometimes inconsistent with shape, but when he snaps it off well, he gets a ton of swing and miss and chase out of the zone. The pitch needs to find more consistent command and shape, but if he can, the pitch has plus potential.
The slider can sometimes blend into his curve in shape, which sits in the low-80s, touching 83 mph. When it’s at its best, Barnett generates a strong 12-6 shape with a ton of downward action. He rounds out his arsenal with an 86-87 mph changeup that is thrown mostly to left-handed batters, fading it away from them.
Pitching from a semi-windup, Barnett repeats his mechanics well and throws strikes at an average rate, checking in near league average with a rate north of 62 percent. He profiles as a backend-stating pitcher, but one that is ready for the Majors and could debut as soon as June or July 2023.
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: 160 IP/3.80 ERA/160 K
Buy/Sell: Buy in Deeper Leagues
3. David Sandlin, RHP, 22, 6’4”/215
On a pure stuff basis, Sandlin has arguably the best stuff of any pitcher in the Royals organization. Catching my eye early in Columbia, Sandlin pumps his fastball in the mid-90s with ride that gets plenty of hitters to swing under it. He tops out at 98, but can often get flat without much horizontal movement, but the ride does allow it to play up. When he is locating it well up, he gets whiffs, when it misses over the heart of the plate, hitters can take advantage of it.
The slider sits in the mid to upper 80s with good horizontal movement and nice depth. He throws it to the back toe of lefties but also runs it away from righties, generating plenty of whiffs. The changeup/splitter has some nasty tendencies when he executes it well. The pitch is inconsistent in shape but sits in the upper 80s. When it is on, it shows excellent depth and bat-missing ability. The curveball is not utilized often but flashes some solid movement when it is thrown. Sandlin pretty much sticks to his fastball, slider, changeup/splitter.
The strike-throwing ability is firmly plus as Sandlin threw strikes at a 67 percent clip last season, which led to a low 6.7 percent walk rate. The 33 percent CSW also ranked among the top Minor League starters. With a solid command of his three main pitches, Sandlin has a solid chance of being a starter long-term.
FFG: Backend SP
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: 150 IP/3.75 ERA/160 K
4. Blake Wolters, RHP, 19, 6’4”/210
Wolters is the upside arm Kansas City desperately needs to hit on and develop. With a strong build at 6’4”/210 lb, Wolters worked to get stronger and add velocity which paid its dividends. Wolters went from sitting in the low 90s on the showcase circuit to averaging near 95 mph and touching 98. There are reports of him sitting 95-97 in the first inning of starts, but settling in 93-96 long term, but given his age(18 years old his senior year), that is to be expected. The fastball gets big carry up in the zone with 18 inches of IVB on average and topping out at 20 inches in PBR’s Super 60 with 11 inches of running action. The fastball is firmly plus with room for more.
His slider is sharp and high spinning, sitting in the low-80s. His spin rates averaged near 2,500 RPM with ten inches of sweeping action and nice depth as well. Coming from a 4’9” release height, the pitch is incredibly hard for hitters to pick up on and could end up being a plus pitch.
Wolters has a strong feel for his changeup as well, creating low spin(1,700 RPM) and late movement. He didn't need the pitch often in high school, but the development of that pitch as a pro will be huge for his long-term outlook. It has good traits and could be an average offering.
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: 160 IP/3.50 ERA/175 K
5. Blake Mitchell, C, 19, 6’1/202
The Royals grabbed what they hope is their catcher of the future when they drafted Blake Mitchell eighth overall in 2023. Entering the draft as the clear-cut top catcher in the class, Mitchell took a deal below slot, but still received $4.9 million.
Having a solid frame and a strong arm behind the plate, the glove and arm will be the carrying tool for Mitchell as he has posted strong pop times between 1.8 and 1.9 seconds, which would already put him among the top catchers in the Majors.
At the plate, Mitchell has a strong frame and the potential to tap into above-average power. He has an interesting rock back-and-forth pre-pitch before having a Bryce Harper-esq load where he has a minimal leg kick and puts all his weight on his back leg before generating a ton of bat speed through the zone. The power can be plus, given the frame and bat speed.
The contact skills are still in question, as Mitchell showed swing-and-miss issues against all pitch types on the complex, posting a 27 percent strikeout rate. The plate discipline skills are solid, though, as Mitchell walked more than he struck out and showed a good feel for the strike zone.
Mitchell will likely head to Single-A Columbia, where I will be able to get live reports on the skillset, but for now, Mitchell does look like a catcher who will provide more value for real life than fantasy but could provide solid power.
FFG: Powerful C
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: .270/.350/20 HR/3 SB
6. Chandler Champlain, RHP, 24, 6’5”/220
Champlain was originally selected in the ninth round of the 2021 draft by the Yankees but traded to Kansas City as part of the Andrew Benintendi trade. Having a starter’s frame, he handled a starter's workload well in 2023, pitching 135.1 innings across 25 starts, averaging over 5.5 innings pitched per start.
Spending time between High-A and Double-A, Champlain posted a 3.33 ERA with 125 strikeouts and 43 walks. He threw more strikes in 2023, posting a 65 percent strike rate, which was better than the league average.
Champlain dominates hitters with a mid-90s fastball that gets up to 98 mph with some tail but a nice ride up in the zone. The pitch plays a bit better than the movement profile might suggest.
The slider is nasty, sitting in the mid-80s with a ton of sweeping action and some downward action. It plays well with his curveball in the upper-70s with a ton of downward action. The movement profile is a bit deceptive for hitters, and the curve is at its best when Champlain buries it down. He occasionally mix a changeup in the upper-80s, but it is not often thrown.
Champlain profiles as a backend starting pitcher, especially with the increased strike throwing in 2023 and better breaking ball usage. The fastball shape could be tweaked some, as it can get flat on occasion, but the velocity helps him get away with missed pitches.
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: 140 IP/3.90 ERA/140 K
7. Cayden Wallace, 3B, 22, 5’10”/205
Wallace was selected in the second round of the 2022 draft out of the University of Arkansas, where he enjoyed a successful career. While showing success at High-A Quad Cities, Wallace struggled upon his promotion to Double-A, but finished the season with a .255/.331/.414 slash with 13 home runs and 18 stolen bases.
With a contact-oriented approach, Wallace made contact over 75 percent of the time for the season, which jumped to 80 percent in Double-A despite the results being far from ideal.
The power is more gap-to-gap power, as Wallace registered 27 doubles, seven triples, and 13 home runs in 2023, but he has shown the ability to post high exit velocities. Having quick hands a solid lower half, Wallace gets to most of his power to the pull side.
Being an average runner, Wallace does have solid instincts on the base paths, swiping 26 bases in 160 career pro games while being caught just seven times. Wallace is also versatile in the field, which helps his potential impact at the next level.
Wallace’s profile is more of the sum of the parts without a true standout tool at the plate, while his best skill is his arm, which could allow him to continue to play third base long-term.
FFG: UTL Bat
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: .275/.340/18 HR/15 SB
8. Nick Loftin, SS, 25, 5’11”/180
A versatile infielder, Loftin reached the majors in 2023 and showed a solid feel for contact, which has always been his strength. In Triple-A, Loftin posted a .280/.362/.458 slash line with 15 home runs and 14 doubles while striking out at just a 13 percent clip.
Loftin did not hit the ball overly hard but did post a 103 mph 90th percentile, which is near the MLB average and paired it with an 88 mph average exit velocity. Loftin could create more barrels with a little more lift in his swing.
Loftin posted an 82 percent overall contact rate while making contact on 90 percent of pitches in the zone. There is some chase, but his 31 percent clip was near the league average.
Loftin does provide some stolen bases but strangely saw his total drop from 29 in 2022 to just nine in 2023. He profiles as an above-average runner.
He will likely crack the Royals’ Opening Day lineup due to his versatility and skills across the board.
FFG: UTL Bat
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: .290/.360/15 HR/15 SB
9. Trevor Werner, 3B, 23, 6’3”/225
Werner is a strong athlete for his size, who moves well and generates easy power in his 6’3” frame. Werner surprised me when I first saw him in Columbia, as I did not have high expectations for the seventh-rounder from the 2023 draft.
With thick legs and a strong upper half, Werner’s swing is low effort, but he hits the ball with authority. After hitting 14 home runs during his senior year at Texas A&M with a .252/.349/.514 slash, he burst onto the scene in pro ball.
The college contact rate was just 71 percent, with a zone contact of 82 percent, but in a small sample of pro ball, Werner posted a 79 percent contact rate. The power translated well to pro ball as Werner posted a 91 mph average exit velocity and 107 mph 90th percentile at A&M and, as a pro, saw it increase to 108 mph. Posting solid launch angles, Werner turned his hard-hit balls into barrels often.
I mentioned being a solid athlete for his size, and it showed on the base paths, as Werner stole ten bases in 14 attempts in 35 pro games after swiping 12 on 15 attempts in 57 games at A&M this year.
The power gives Werner an easy 20-25 home run upside with the potential to provide in stolen bases. If the improved contact rates stick, Werner has a chance to be a legitimate corner infield prospect for the Royals.
FFG: Power Hitting 3B
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: .270/.350/25 HR/10 SB
10. Gavin Cross, OF, 22, 6’1”/210
After a strong career at Virginia Tech in which Cross showed strong power, speed, and feel to hit, the Royals snagged him ninth overall in the 2022 draft. After a strong showing in Single-A Columbia after the draft, expectations were high heading into 2023, where Cross spent most of the season in High-A. Across 403 plate appearances, he slashed .203/.298/.378 with 12 home runs and 23 stolen bases.
He cross-swung at 46 percent of pitches he saw but made contact on just 69 percent of them, showing a potential 40-grade hit tool. It appears to me that Cross made a concerted effort to be more aggressive and try to hit the ball out of the park in every at-bat, which led to him pressing and making poor contact. He spent his time in instructs working on his approach and balance according to reports, which should help him heading into 2024.
While having average clock times, Cross is efficient on the base paths, stealing 23 bases and only being caught three times in 2023. If the hit tool shows strides in 2024, Cross could become a good buy low in dynasty leagues.
FFG: Power/Speed OF
90th Percentile Peak Outcome: .275/.350/20 HR/15 SB
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