Our beloved Kansas City Royals take on the plucky upstart Houston Astros in the ALDS; Can they remind the Astros that they're supposed to be a year away from this?
Can an AL team manage to beat the Royals this postseason?
Duncan’s Top 20 for 2016:
1. Raul Adalberto Mondesi, SS, BOTH: Tools, tools, tools. RA has tools galore. At his best, he’s an All-Star SS who plays elite D, hits 15-20 HR, swipes 40 bags, and is an ideal 1, 2 or 3 hitter. At his worst, I think he looks a lot like Alcides Escobar. Plate discipline is his biggest challenge at this point, but evaluators are confident that will come with time. Clear No. 1
2. Kyle Zimmer, RHP: He’s pitching again and staying healthy, which is nice. He’s pitcing out of the bullpen to build back his arm strength, which is less nice. But still has that high upside, just a lower floor now. Ideally, the team will use him as a bullpen weapon in September (because he has earned it) and then give him a chance to transition back to starting for 2016.
3. Miguel Almonte, RHP: Still love the body, FB/CH combo. Results aren’t eye popping, but he’s still low enough and early enough in the development to prize those things over performance. Still a solid No. 3 starter upside, and just a year and some change away from potentially being ready to contribute at the MLB level.
4. Jorge Bonifacio, RF, RH: Emilio’s little brother got off to a horrible start in 2015 but has heated up as the season went on. He also is translating BP power to game power for the first time, with 15 HR just past the mid-way point of his season. Despite his disappointing 2014, he has a chance to build his way back into legit prospect status – and still is only 22. Next challenge for him should be Omaha, but that may wait for the start of the 2014 season.
5. Scott Blewett, RHP: Blewett has a nice two –pitch mix already and is off to a strong start. With his size (6-6) and a good fastball/curveball combo, Blewett could eventually turn into a good No. 3 starter, with a MLB-average changeup.
6. Nolan Watson, RHP: The Royals’ 2015 sandwich pick is a polished prep arm who is adding velocity and explosiveness to a good, polished base. Likely to move quickly.
7. Ashe Russell, RHP: The 2015 top pick probably needs more work than Watson, but the upside is really nice. Again, advanced two-pitch mix that will depend on him adding a changeup. Could be a very good NO. 2 if it all adds up.
8. Bubba Starling, CF, RH: Starling has been up and down this year but put himself back on the map by greatly improving his K rate while also improving across the slash line as a hitter. His defense and baserunning are MLB ready; if Starling can work himself into a league average hitter, he can be a solid MLB regular who plays great D in CF while hitting 15 HR and swiping 20 bags.
9. Balbino Fuenmayor, 1B/DH, RH: The Balbino came out of basically nowhere in 2015 to earn a Futures Game spot. Big power and an improved two-strike approach have turned the late bloomer into a legit prospect. He’s blocked at the MLB level currently by Eric Hosmer and Kendrys Morales, but Fuenmayor’s combination of power hitting and good average/strike zone control makes him intriguing.
10. Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B, RH: Cheslor probably is not going to be the star KC was hoping for when signing him out of Nicaragua, but he does look like he can be a solid reserve for an MLB club. Good defense at 3B paired with a solid plate approach and some gap power plays fine off the bench. He becomes a lot more interesting if they think he can stick as a 2B, which they have experimented with.
11. Chase Vallot, C/DH/1B: I really like Vallot’s power and plate discipline combo. His bat will probably force him from behind the plate, but he’s held his own despite being extremely young for every level he has faced.
12. Alfredo Escalera-Maldonado, OF, RH: Escalera-Maldonado earned a promotion to Wilmington at age 20, which is pretty advanced movement for that age. He’s an athletic outfielder who has shown some plate discipline at an early age, which is encouraging. Doesn’t sound like he can stick in CF long term for KC, but his bat has become one to watch.
13. Pedro Fernandez, RHP: I haven’t seen much of him, but like the reports I’ve heard on his fastball and general makeup. Could become the next Almonte/Mondesi, though he’s more likely to land in the pen than either of them.
14. Elier Hernandez, OF, RH: Elier Hernanez teamed with Escalera-Maldonado in breaking out at Low-A and earning a promotion to Wilmington. It’s still early for this guy – he is just 20 years old – but he doesn’t take walks and hasn’t developed the prodigious power many thought he had the potential for. Still worth watching.
15. Hunter Dozier, 3B, RH: Dozier is reworking his swing mid-season, which generally will cause production to do what his has done: Nose dive. The changes he made entering the season (seemingly geared towards increasing his power production) were a disaster, and now he’s trying to get back to what he used to be. Still looks great and checks most of the scouting boxes, but the performance hasn’t matched, and it almost knocked him out of the list.
16. Christian Binford, RHP: After a breakthrough 2014, Binford struggled mightily at AAA and suffered a demotion. His upside remains similar – a back-end starter who can eat innings – but Binford’s lack of velocity and reliance on command have caught up to him so far.
17. Marten Gasparini, OF, SH: Gasparini is intriguing because of his speed and athleticism. He’s a LOOOOONG ways from the majors and young for his level, but reports on his bat speed, swing, and speed remain positive enough to keep him on the bubble.