Kansas City Royals Hitting Prospects: Will Starling Step Up to Fill Myers Void?


Kansas City is the next stop for the Seedlings to Stars 2012 STAT-Scan series, and the biggest blip on the screen is still the fading echo of what was once the brightest light in the Royals system.  Wil Myers, who tore up AAA at age 21, is gone (to Tampa Bay in a seven-player deal that brought RHP James Shields to the Royals), and the void at the top of the system is a big one.

Royals fans are hoping their long wait for young talent to pay off is finally coming to an end. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

In our S2S STAT-Scans, each player is assigned a “Plate Skills Index,” which is based on the ability to “win plate appearances” (described in detail here), a “Production Index,” based on the ability to produce offense (described in detail here), and a “Composite Index,” which is a combination of the two.  Additional detail on “the three numbers,” with some examples, can be found here.

It is important to remember that age, level and position also factor into the analysis.  And note that this is a statistical analysis of the actual results, so scouting reports don’t factor into the numbers.

High Alert

Christian Colon, SS … 2012 Age 23, Level: Rookie (rehab), AA, AAA

Plate Skills: 122  Production: 94  Composite: 116

Colon has crept along at a much slower pace than one would expect from the No. 4 overall pick in the 2010 draft, but he actually had a very strong 2012 for a shortstop.  His strongest suit is his mirco-small strikeout rate.  Colon went down on strikes in only 7.7% of plate appearances (under 20% is good).  The low K% will help make up for Colon’s lack of pop (.112 ISO), and give him a good shot to contribute at the plate in the majors.

Distant Early Warning

Chad Johnson, C … 2012 Age: 18, Level: Rookie

Plate Skills: 128  Production: 88  Composite: 116

Johnson was a 5th-round pick out of high school (Galesburg, IL), and he showed strong plate skills for a teen hitter, drawing 26 walks in 38 games in rookie ball.  Johnson will have time to develop more power as he matures, but the foundation looks good from the early returns.

Alexis Rivera, OF … 2012 Age: 18, Level: Rookie

Plate Skills: 112  Production: 93  Composite: 105

The Royals grabbed lefty-hitting Rivera in the 10th round out of a Florida prep school, and the teen outfielder put up big numbers in his pro debut: .341/.413/.477, plus four triples and nine steals in 48 games.  He appears to be limited to a corner spot on defense, but his initial numbers indicate Rivera could have the offensive punch to make a mark.

Bubba Starling, OF (S2S Top 115 #25) … 2012 Age: 19, Level: Rookie

Plate Skills: 88  Production: 89  Composite: 77

Of course, you can’t discuss Royals prospects without bringing up Starling, even though his STAT-Scan numbers don’t jump off the page.  The reason: a sky-high 30% strikeout rate that sucked the life out of otherwise-strong production.  To survive that kind of whiff-tastic approach, you better have Giancarlo Stanton-level monster power.   Starling may have it someday, but not yet. (Stanton, by the way scored composite 110 on our scoreboard at High-A and AA at age 19, despite a 26.1% strikeout rate.)

On the Whole

For the curious, Myers (who will now show up in the Rays article), had a 111-132-143 score.  (And Patrick Leonard, also gone to Tampa, had a 117-119-137 score at the rookie level.)  With Myers gone, the top of the system is not very deep, but the younger levels have been replenished nicely, with Rivera making an impressive bid to join Starling as players to watch.