09/06/12 6:57 PM ET
Stellar year catapults Myers in prospects rankings
By Vinnie Duber / MLB.com
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals are a team built on homegrown talent, and that influx of talent isn't about to end any time soon.
Names that Royals fans have been hearing about all season grace the top of MLB.com's updated prospect rankings, including outfielder Wil Myers, who ranks first on the Royals' list and fourth on the MLB.com Top 100. Outfielder Bubba Starling and pitchers Jake Odorizzi and Kyle Zimmer also rank in the Top 100.
Myers -- named the Minor League Player of the Year by both Baseball America and USA Today on Tuesday -- has moved up to the No. 1 prospect in the organization, according to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. The outfielder certainly has reason to be at the top of the list, too. He was selected to play in both the All-Star Futures Game and the Triple-A All-Star Game, and this season he ranked second in the Minors with 37 home runs between time at Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha.
"We really thought that Wil would bounce back from a down year last year," said Scott Sharp, the Royals' director of Minor League operations. "That year last year was very disjointed. It didn't flow. He never got into rhythm. ... We really thought that coming into this year, we'd see him bounce back. He had experience in Double-A. We sent him back there to start the year, and he's taken off ever since."
Swapping spots with Myers from the last set of rankings is Starling. The Royals' top pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, Starling is still in the lower levels of the organization, wrapping up his season with the Rookie-level Burlington Royals earlier this week. The outfielder hit 10 home runs and drove in 33 in 53 games with Burlington this year.
"That's a great year. It really is," Sharp said. "You just look at the history of the league, players that have gone through that league and have become very productive, successful Major League players, and his year stands on par with many of those guys. Tremendous year for him."
Myers' Omaha teammate and fellow Futures Game participant Odorizzi checks in at No. 3. In 18 starts with Omaha this season, the 22-year-old righty went 10-3 with a 3.04 ERA.
"I think Jake has done really well this year," Sharp said. "Any time that a pitcher goes down and wins 15-plus games in a Minor League season and pretty much takes the ball every start, stays healthy and gets a chance to get promoted and continues to pitch well after his promotion, you get excited. ... That's the way you want things to shake out all the time."
royals' top prospects
A new name to this year's rankings is Zimmer, who was the fifth overall pick in June's First-Year Player Draft. He's ranked as the No. 4 prospect in the organization after just a brief stint so far in the Minor Leagues. In six starts for Class A Kane County, Zimmer went 2-3 with a 2.43 ERA. He allowed just eight earned runs in 29 2/3 innings, striking out 29 batters.
"He's done everything that we've expected him to do. Everything that our scouts said that he was capable of doing, he's done. He's really a tremendous competitor. He's eager to learn, especially being a converted position player," Sharp said. "There's a lot of expectations on him, and he understands that."
Zimmer had a minor surgical procedure on Aug. 22 to remove loose bodies from his right elbow. It isn't expected to affect his offseason preparation.
One top prospect is sliding down the list. Pitcher Mike Montgomery was ranked as the organization's No. 3 prospect heading into 2012, but a rough season has seen the left-hander demoted from Omaha to Northwest Arkansas. He's slid to No. 6 in the rankings.
Montgomery started 17 games for Omaha, going 3-6 with a 5.69 ERA before being sent down to Double-A. Things didn't go much better for him there, where he posted a 2-6 record and a 6.67 ERA in 10 starts.
"I think it's been up and down for Mike," Sharp said. "You see some glimpses. There are a lot of guys in the Major Leagues that go through similar struggles in their career. I definitely think Mike will come out of this and be a good Major League pitcher because of it. We say this a lot, it's not unlike what Wil went through last year. You've got to, at some point, have some adversity in the Minor Leagues, because the last thing you want a player to do is try to have to handle adversity the first time at the Major League level and not know how to cope with it and get through it. You don't wish it upon them, but at some point that has to happen, I believe, for development to occur."
Other notable prospects in the rankings include Yordano Ventura, the right-handed pitcher and third member of the organization to play in the Futures Game. Ventura was promoted from Class A Wilmington to Northwest Arkansas following his trip to Kansas City. In six starts with the Naturals, Ventura went 1-2 with a 4.60 ERA. He ranks at No. 5.
A duo of newly acquired Royals farmhands also made the top 10. Pitchers J.C. Sulbaran and Donnie Joseph -- who rank at Nos. 8 and 10, respectively -- were the returning pieces of the trade that sent Jonathan Broxton to Cincinnati. Joseph posted a 4.15 ERA in 11 relief appearances for Omaha, and Sulbaran went 0-4 with a 7.62 ERA in six starts for Northwest Arkansas.
One player who has fallen off the list of the organization's Top 20 prospects is Noel Arguelles. Ranked at No. 11 entering 2012, Arguelles went 4-14 with a 6.41 ERA in 25 starts for Northwest Arkansas this season.
Two other new additions to the list are outfielder Brian Fletcher and outfielder Elier Hernandez, who rank at Nos. 17 and 18, respectively.
Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.