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Royals Invade BA’s Top 100

Validation is something we all crave whether you want to admit it or not. The Royals as an organization haven’t been validated too often over the years. Since Dayton Moore took over, validation has been much more common than at any other time in the 12 or 13 years prior to his arrival. It began with his first big free agent signing, Gil Meche, when he actually turned out to be a top of the rotation type pitcher. It continued when he was able to get Joakim Soria signed and then Zack Greinke and then Billy Butler. This off-season, though, has been an entire winter of validation for Dayton Moore and the Royals organization. As a fan of the team for my entire life, I’d say it’s about time.

Yesterday, Baseball America released their list of the top 100 prospects in baseball and a record nine Royals made the cut. In theory, if every team had equal representation they would have three or four representatives each. I’ll give the Royals number again – NINE. That’s insane. When the Royals were named the number one system in baseball it seemed a bit anticlimactic because we had expected it. It was a foregone conclusion since about August. This, though, was different. We knew the Royals would have at least seven players on the list and we knew that it would likely be more than that, but nobody had given a definitive answer prior to yesterday who would be where on the list. In a blog post on Baseball America’s site, they gave each player ranked points based on their ranking where the top player is worth 100 and the 100th player is worth 1. The Royals total number of points exceeded that of the second best farm system they’ve ranked by more than 20 points.

The thing I found most interesting about the list is that Baseball America seemed to have as much trouble separating various players as we have. Three Royals round out the top ten with Eric Hosmer in the eighth spot, Mike Moustakas in the ninth spot and Wil Myers tenth. Think about that for a second. Three Royals are among the top ten prospects in all of baseball. Even the harshest critics and the most pessimistic fans have to admit that there’s never been this much high-end talent in the system before. Then toward the bottom of the top 20 we have Mike Montgomery and John Lamb, checking in at 18th and 19th respectively. Yep, BA has just as much trouble figuring out who belongs where as we all do.

It’s awhile longer before we get to our next entry on the list, and it’s really the first surprise I saw among rankings of the Royals. Christian Colon checks in on the list at number 51, which is probably about 20-25 spots higher than I had expected. You should know by now that I’m a big fan of Christian Colon, but to have him that high was a bit of a shock to me. He’s listed as a shortstop, which is where the Royals say he will play in 2011, but I wonder if his ranking would be a bit lower if he had already been moved to second base. Either way, it was a nice surprise. They get back to grouping Royals together as Danny Duffy and Jake Odorizzi hold spots 68 and 69 respectively.

The other surprise I saw was that Chris Dwyer was ranked at 83. I’m not sure anybody would have blinked if he and Colon had been flipped. The list is a combination of upside, proximity to the majors and bust potential, so I can see why Dwyer was ranked as low as he was. Aside from the injury concern of Montgomery, I think Dwyer is the most likely to flop in the Majors because of his control. Also, it’s silly to nitpick individual rankings, though I did find this somewhat interesting.

The other interesting point that I took from these rankings was the ETA listed for the players. Every Royal on the list but Jake Odorizzi was listed with an ETA of 2011 or 2012. And to be fair, Mike Moustakas was the only Royal listed as 2011. Now, I think that a couple of these players will make their debuts in 2011. Based on some things that Bob McClure has said about Mike Montgomery, I don’t think he’ll spend too much time in the minors if he’s healthy and performing well. He mentioned on Petro’s show on 810 the other day that Montgomery has both the best stuff and the best fastball in camp. A tall lefty with good stuff and a hard fastball plays in the Majors and plays well.

The funny thing about prospect ratings is that they mean nothing. Ultimately, number one prospects sometimes don’t make it and guys who were complete afterthoughts for the list become superstars. It’s similar to the draft but with a little more information on hand to make decisions. As scouting and statistical analysis gets more sophisticated, these lists become a bit more of a science, but the human element has to be taken into account on every single one of these players. There wasn’t a scout in the world who thought Alex Gordon wouldn’t have appeared in an All-Star game by now. Instead he’s fighting for his Major League life this season. So while all the validation is nice, it isn’t the final step. These prospects need to bring winning baseball back to Kansas City or else it means nothing at all. I’m pretty confident that with this much talent, winning will be back very soon.

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