The Kansas City Royals had their best record since 1989, going 86-76 this season. A big reason for their success was due to contributions from their home grown talent recently produced by the farm system.
A few of the next wave of guys to transition to Kansas City will be playing in the Arizona Fall League this month. The Royals team up with prospects from the Houston Astros, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres and Philadelphia Phillies to form the Peoria Javelinas. The AFL season starts Tuesday, here’s a snapshot of the Royals prospects headed to the desert this fall.
Jorge Bonifacio – At 20-years-old and with just 25 games in Double-A, Bonifacio will be challenged in the AFL. The younger brother of major leaguer Emilio Bonifacio, Jorge is expected to develop power has he grows. The right fielder hit .298/.372/.429 with four home runs over three levels this season. He’s certainly not the burner his brother is, going 3-for-6 in stolen base attempts, but his plus arm and overall athleticism make him a plus outfielder.
Orlando Calixte – In his first stint in Double-A as a 21-year-old, Calixte struggled at the plate. The Dominican shortstop hit .250/.312/.368 and struck out 131 times in 123 games. There’s still plenty of time for Calixte to figure things out, as he’s shown potential with the bat and is a legit shortstop. He had 52 extra base hits in 2012, including 14 home runs.
Cheslor Cuthbert – Yet another very young player the Royals are featuring in the AFL, Cuthbert struggled in his first taste of Double-A this season. He hit .215/.279/.359 over 64 games after being promoted from Wilmington. He hit 37 doubles on the season, so there are signs that his power may be ready to blossom. Cuthbert has all the tools defensively at third base, it’s just a question of whether or not he’ll hit enough.
Jason Adam – The right-hander struggled mightily in 2013, posting a 5.19 ERA and 1.44 WHIP over 144 innings in Double-A. Adam, 22, also saw his strikeout-to-walk ratio drop from 3.42 to 2.33. The fifth round pick of the 2010 draft, Adam has a lot to prove in the AFL.
Angel Baez – After throwing just 51 ⅓ innings this season, Baez will look to get some more work in at the AFL. The 22-year-old has averaged 8.7 K/9 over five minor league seasons, but has only reached High-A. He’s also walked a batter ever other inning on average over his career. This fall will show the Royals whether Baez will be ready to take the leap to Double-A.
Lane Adams – He tailed off some after reaching Double-A, but 2013 was still a career year for Adams. He ended up hitting .265/.353/.415 with 12 home runs, 30 doubles, 38 stolen bases while drawing 61 walks. Again, much of that damage was done in High-A, so you could chalk the performance up to the 23-year-old outfielder being advanced for his league. He has really fine tuned his ability to swipe a bag and was a perfect 15-for-15 after the promotion.
Malcom Culver – Culver got his career back on track this past season. The 23-year-old right-hander missed the entire 2009 and ‘10 seasons. He struggled in brief action in ‘11 before putting together more encouraging numbers in 2012. Culver had a 2.79 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 8.1 K/9 in High-A this season. It’s been a long road back, but he’ll face another challenge in the AFL, squaring off against more advanced hitters than he’s faced to date.
Noel Arguelles – This lefty could be running out of opportunities, so a strong AFL is imperative to the former Cuban defector. Arguelles has walked more batters than he’s struck out each of the past two seasons, and averaged 6.5 BB/9 this season. The Royals have already converted him to the bullpen, it might not be long before they give up altogether if things don’t turn around for the 23-year-old.
For more on this year’s Arizona Fall League, check out our Fall-Winter Leagues hub.