KC Royals Have Multiple Prospects Rank on 2022 Minor League Leaderboards
One of the downsides that come with the Kansas City Royals promoting top prospects such as Bobby Witt Jr. and MJ Melendez is that their minor league affiliates naturally won’t be as strong. That was apparent in 2022, as Kansas City’s struggles to restock the shelves completely led to all of Triple-A Omaha, Double-A Northwest Arkansas, High-A Quad Cities and Single-A Columbia posting losing records this year.
Don’t get it twisted, though: the Royals’ MiLB affiliates still saw plenty of success. It just wasn’t on a team basis throughout the system. Even with the losses piling up, Kansas City’s minor league squads saw plenty of impressive seasons at all different levels.
With MiLB seasons coming to a close, six different Royals prospects placed among the top 10 in various statistical categories. Baseball America rounded all of them up, so let’s take a look at each feat.
Batting Average: Tyler Gentry (9th)
Tyler Gentry can flat-out hit, and that was evidenced by his combined .326 batting average between High-A Quad Cities and Double-A Northwest Arkansas in 2022. In 35 games with the River Bandits to open the year, the 23-year-old slashed .336/.434/.516 with a video game-like 165 wRC . In 73 games with the Naturals, his batting average (.321), SLG (.555), walk rate (12.1%), home run total (16) and wRC (147) all continued to show just how good of a hitter Gentry is. MLB Pipeline writes that Gentry could join Kansas City by the middle of next season, and it’s hard to argue too much given his age and stellar performance thus far at the minor league level.
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OBP: Logan Porter (3rd)
Getting on base by any means necessary at a high level can be a one-way ticket to the big leagues for a prospect, and Logan Porter did his best to flash his ability this year. Between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha, the 27-year-old walked over 18% of the time and got on base at a 44.2% clip. Porter’s age and other factors keep him off most Royals top prospect lists but if there’s one thing he’s been able to do thus far in his career, it’s work a walk or collect a hit. With a .301 batting average at both of his stops in 2022, Porter projects to continue putting up impressive numbers moving forward.
Runs Scored: Nick Loftin and Maikel Garcia (T-6th)
Both Nick Loftin and Maikel Garcia have been covered within the past month on Inside the Royals, and for good reason. After getting off to a slow start since getting promoted to Triple-A Omaha, Loftin began to figure a couple of things out. Garcia got his first taste of major league action this year, and he also put up respectable numbers in the minors. It’s no surprise that these two — both top five prospects within the Royals organization on MLB Pipeline — finished in the top 10 for runs scored. They were available and productive for the most part. Both Loftin and Garcia fit into the future of Kansas City baseball, and they showed why in 2022.
Stolen Bases: Tyler Tolbert (10th)
Let’s get the negatives out of the way: 24-year-old Tyler Tolbert doesn’t have the hitting profile of an obvious future big-leaguer. He doesn’t hit for power, he strikes out a pretty healthy amount and his wRC in 2022 (85) leaves some to be desired. With that said, his impressive defense, ability to draw walks and his 60 stolen bases this year were enough to show that he can absolutely have meaningful MLB moments later in his career. Tolbert projects as an ideal late-inning replacement for defensive or pinch-running purposes at his peak, even if his numbers at the plate don’t ever come around. Tolbert’s speed kills, and he proved it for the second year in a row.
Innings Pitched: Austin Cox (6th)
Sometimes, even if the results aren’t great, simply being able to eat up innings is a valuable skill for a pitcher to have. With 29 appearances (24 starts) under his belt in 2022, 25-year-old lefty Austin Cox hurled 147.1 innings of 4.21-ERA ball. Figures such as his FIP (4.99), xFIP (5.49), and K/9 (6.41) leave plenty to be desired, but Cox simply being able to do things such as average more than five innings per outing with a 4.05 ERA in a 10-start stretch between July 15 and September 14 is solid. Cox’s hype as a prospect is essentially gone, but he played a big role in the success that Omaha managed to have when things were going right. That’s worth noting.
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