By Anne Rogers
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (MLB.com/Royals) – In a weird quirk of the schedule, the Royals are off today. But the newsletter doesn’t stop!
MLB Pipeline updated the Top 30 rankings for each club, and the Royals’ list has a new No. 1. First-round pick Blake Mitchell now tops it after the Royals selected him No. 8 overall in this year’s MLB Draft. The catcher’s potential for average, power and double-plus arm strength has the organization’s hopes high.
There are several new names on the midseason list — seven of which came from the ’23 Draft. Two came from trades and three (pitchers Anthony Veneziano and John McMillon and outfielder Javier Vaz) climbed up the organization’s ranks.
Let’s break down some of those players and the new top prospect list:
Here’s a look at the Royals’ top prospects:
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the preseason list:
Jump: Chandler Champlain, RHP (Preseason: 26 | Midseason: 12)
The Royals acquired Champlain as part of the package from the Yankees for Andrew Benintendi last July, bumping Champlain up to High-A.
Last year, the righty had to get acquainted with a new organization and a new level at the same time. This season, he’s settled in and looked more like the pitcher the Royals believed they were getting.
Champlain has a 3.08 ERA in 19 starts between two levels this season, getting the bump up to Double-A in June. The 24-year-old isn’t overpowering with a mid-90s fastball but knows how to pitch with it, pairing it nicely with his slider and curveball that he spins extremely well. The 6-foot-5 Champlain is a bulldog on the mound and the Royals love his presence and durability.
Fall: Beck Way, RHP (Preseason: 11 | Midseason: NR)
Way flashes a nasty slider with the potential for elite break and swing-and-miss, but he has taken a step backward this season in Double-A. He has a 10.13 ERA over 13 starts — with 38 walks in 37 1/3 innings — which prompted a move to the bullpen so he could get more looks per week and find consistency with his stuff. He’s had better results as a reliever, with a 2.57 ERA across nine appearances.
That’s where he’ll likely stick, and his stock could rise if he gets on track with his fastball-slider combination.
New to the list
Here are the players added to the Top 30 from outside the organization:
No. 1 Mitchell, C (No. 8 overall pick in 2023 MLB Draft)
No. 10 Blake Wolters, RHP (No. 44 pick)
No. 16 Carson Roccaforte, OF (third-round pick)
No. 19 Hunter Owen, LHP (fourth-round pick)
No. 23 Jared Dickey, OF (11th-round pick)
No. 24 Spencer Nivens, OF (fifth-round pick)
No. 25 Henry Williams, RHP (acquired from the Padres in the Scott Barlow trade)
No. 26 Hiro Wyatt (third-round pick)
No. 30 Devin Mann (acquired from the Dodgers in the Ryan Yarbrough trade)
The Nicky Lopez trade to Atlanta opened a lane on Kansas City’s Major League roster. It has been filled by Samad Taylor for now as the Royals get him looks behind Michael Massey at second base and behind MJ Melendez in left field. But the Royals want to get looks at some of their prospects as the difficult season winds down, and Loftin, who is healthy again after dealing with an earlier right knee injury, could be one.
After getting many looks at third base earlier, the 24-year-old is seeing some time at second base now, but his above-average speed and strong arm works at multiple spots.
Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools — 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average. Players in parentheses have the same grade.
Hit: 55 — Javier Vaz (Mitchell, Roccaforte, Dickey, Nivens)
Power: 55 — Gavin Cross (Mitchell, Wallace)
Run: 70 — Taylor
Arm: 70 — Mitchell
Defense: 60 — Diego Hernandez
Fastball: 75 — McMillon
Curveball: 60 — Mozzicato (McMillon)
Slider: 60 — Will Klein (Owen)
Changeup: 60 — Noah Cameron
Control: 55 — Cameron