3/24/2014 10:00 A.M. ET
How do Royals' prospects fit KC's needs?
By Bernie Pleskoff / MLB.com
This series is designed to evaluate the role prospects play in each Major League organization, looking at the short- and long-term needs of each club and illustrating how prospects fit in both scenarios.
Here's my look at the Royals:
Having made a commitment to turn the corner when they traded for pitcher James Shields, the Royals lost Wil Myers, a primary prospect. But others are on the way.
Right-hander Yordano Ventura is headed to the Majors, having won the Royals' No. 3 starter spot during Spring Training. A true power pitcher from a frame of 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, Ventura has an amazing arm that can hit 94-100 mph. He also works an improving changeup into the mix.
The issue with the 22-year-old Ventura has been inconsistent command. He doesn't always know where the ball is going. Repetition, maturity and repeating his delivery will help guide Ventura to a very bright future. There has been great improvement in his command this spring.
Right-handed pitcher Kyle Zimmer might be the cream of the Royals' prospect crop. Chosen with the fifth overall selection of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, the 22-year-old has all the signs of becoming an ace.
PROJECTED 2016 ROYALS LINEUPProjecting the Royals' 2016 lineup based on the players in their system.
Zimmer, 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, is knocking on the door. His fastball velocity sits between 91 and 96 mph. Zimmer uses both two- and four-seam fastballs with late movement and deception. He can get sink on the ball and induce ground balls. A strikeout pitcher, Zimmer's hard curveball is a tough pitch to hit.
Switch-hitting shortstop Raul Adelberto Mondesi has a chance to be an impact hitter and quality defensive player. Mondesi is 6-foot-1, 165 pounds. He is only 18 and has a fabulous future. Mondesi played last season at Class A Lexington, hitting .261 with seven homers and 47 RBIs. He stole 24 bases.
Mondesi is athletic and has very quick hands through the ball. He has some gap power, with an ability to reach the seats. Because of his youth, Mondesi still has some work to do on plate discipline and pitch recognition. He has always excelled against older players and has maturity and personal discipline beyond his years.
Third-base prospect Hunter Dozier is 6-foot-4, 220 pounds. He's a right-handed hitter that the Royals chose in the first round of the 2013 Draft. Dozier should be a couple years from making the big league club. He finished last season at Class A Lexington after starting the year at Idaho Falls in the Rookie-level Pioneer League. Dozier had a combined .308 average over 317 plate appearances. He had seven homers, all at Idaho Falls. Dozier also stole three bases.
Miguel Almonte is a right-handed starting pitcher with very good Minor League success to date. He pitched 130 2/3 Class A innings last season, throwing to a 3.10 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. Almonte yielded only 115 hits.
At 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, Almonte has a good arm that supports his 91-94 mph fastball. His changeup may be his best pitch. Almonte sets it up and consistently uses the same arm action between the fastball and the changeup.
Almonte could sneak up on everyone as an under-the-radar pitcher. He has some sharpening to do, but his numbers have been outstanding in three seasons.
The future could also be very bright for left-handed pitcher Sean Manaea, the Royals' 2013 first-round pick. At 6-foot-5, 235 pounds, Manaea is a big guy who uses a low three-quarter delivery. He throws his fastball at 95-96 mph, but can take his foot off the throttle and reduce that speed when needed. Manaea's slider might be his strikeout pitch. Set up by the moving fastball, the slider comes in on the hands of left-handed hitters and freezes them. It's a solid pitch and could be the difference in his career.
Right-handed-hitting outfielder Jorge Bonifacio is an aggressive, raw hitter with a need for better pitch recognition. He hits for average by making excellent contact. If Bonifacio's patience improves and he becomes more disciplined at the plate, the 20-year-old could become a real force.
Center fielder Bubba Starling could be a future star player. Starling, 21, was a highly touted prep football star who chose baseball following a first-round selection in the 2011 Draft. He is still learning all the nuances of the game, and it may take some time for him to refine his enormous skills. Starling is 6-foot-4, 180 pounds, and his power, speed, arm strength and range are all above average. It's just a matter of time until everything clicks and he converts potential to reality.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.