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MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

Mondesi, Zimmer lead Royals' updated Top 20 list

Son of former Dodgers All-Star holds Kansas City's top prospect spot at midseason

Mondesi, Zimmer lead Royals' updated Top 20 list play video for Mondesi, Zimmer lead Royals' updated Top 20 list

With the passing of the Draft signing deadline, teams have had a recent influx of talent into their farm systems, and with that, we've updated the Top 20 Prospects lists of all 30 teams.

To be on a list, a player must have rookie eligibility. To qualify for rookie status, a player must not have exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues, or accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club or clubs during the 25-player limit period, excluding time on the disabled list or in military service.

Players are graded on a 20-80 scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average.

Check out all 30 team Top 20 lists and the Top 100 on Prospect Watch.

1. Adalberto (Raul) Mondesi, SS
Preseason rank:
3
MLB Top 100 rank: 43 (Preseason: 38)
ETA: 2016
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 60 | Arm: 60 | Field: 60 | Overall: 55

Mondesi was the second-youngest player in the South Atlantic League in 2013, playing much of the season as a 17-year-old. He more than held his own against the older competition, and he continued playing well ahead of the curve in the Carolina League in '14.

The son of former All-Star Raul Mondesi, Adalberto has a good feel for hitting from both sides of the plate. He is an above-average runner, and while Mondesi doesn't hit for much power now, scouts expect that to change as he matures. Defensively, Mondesi has a strong arm and good infield actions. He is a good bet to stay at shortstop, and he has the potential to be an above-average defender.

Mondesi's youth and inexperience are understandably exposed at times, but he is already very advanced for his age.

2. Kyle Zimmer, RHP
Preseason rank:
1
MLB Top 100 rank: 52 (Preseason: 25)
ETA: 2015
Scouting grades: Fastball: 70 | Curveball: 65 | Slider 60 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 60 | Overall: 55

Zimmer was a three-sport star in high school, and he went to the University of San Francisco as a third baseman. He didn't pitch much until his sophomore year, when he outdueled Gerrit Cole in the NCAA Tournament. Zimmer's prospect status took off that summer in the Cape Cod League, and the Royals made him the No. 5 overall pick in 2012.

When healthy, Zimmer has the stuff to be a front-line starter. His fastball sits in the mid-90s, and he has touched 100 mph. Zimmer's 12-to-6 curveball is his best secondary offering, and his slider and changeup have the chance to be above-average Major League offerings, as well.

An excellent athlete, Zimmer repeats his delivery well and has more command than would be expected of someone so new to pitching. Injuries have seriously hampered his progress, and the 2014 season was basically washed out because of tendinitis and then a lat injury.

3. Sean Manaea, LHP
Preseason rank:
5
MLB Top 100 rank: 74 (Preseason: None)
ETA: 2016
Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 55

Manaea looked like a top-of-the-first-round candidate in the 2013 Draft until a hip injury impacted his delivery. He slid to No. 34 overall, where the Royals cobbled together enough Draft pool money, $3.55 million, to sign him.

With hip surgery behind him, all signs point to a healthy Manaea showing the Royals that he was worth the gamble. Manaea has a plus fastball from the left side, with late life and deception. His hard slurvy slider gives him a second above-average pitch, and his changeup has the chance to be an average offering, as well.

Assuming health, Manaea has the kind of stuff that should allow him to move through the system quickly, though Kansas City will probably want to let him log some innings and put the injury behind him first.

4. Hunter Dozier, 3B
Preseason rank:
7
MLB Top 100 rank: 93 (Preseason: None)
ETA: 2016
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 60 | Run: 45 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 55

Dozier was one of the top performers among the college hitters in the 2013 Draft, but he wasn't regarded as a top 10 pick. So it was stunning when the Royals selected him eighth overall, eventually signing him to a well-below slot deal that allowed them to later sign left-hander Manaea.

Regardless of his Draft day perception, Kansas City liked Dozier's bat, and he showed why in his professional debut. He has a powerful right-handed swing, and he looks like a middle-of-the-order hitter. Dozier has good pitch recognition and knows how to get on base.

Dozier was a shortstop in college, but the Royals quickly moved him to third base, where his large frame profiles better. He has an above-average arm and, with time, should be a solid defender at the hot corner.

5. Miguel Almonte, RHP
Preseason rank:
6
ETA: 2016
MLB Top 100 rank: 94 (Preseason: None) ETA: 2016
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 45 | Changeup: 60 | Control: 50 | Overall: 55

After just 27 innings in the United States, the Royals thought enough of Almonte to send him to full-season ball in 2013. He rewarded their confidence by being chosen for the Futures Game and finishing seventh in the South Atlantic League in ERA and then moving up to the Carolina League at age 21 in '14.

Almonte still has plenty of projection left, and he has pretty good stuff already. His fastball hits the mid-90s, and his changeup, his best secondary offering, is also above average. Almonte's breaking ball is a bit behind, but it should be a viable third pitch in the future. All of his stuff plays up because of his advanced command, especially for his age.

Though he'll be 21 for all of the 2014 season, Almonte's combination of stuff and feel for pitching could help him start moving more quickly through Kansas City's system.

6. Brandon Finnegan, LHP
Preseason rank:
None (2014 Draft)
ETA: 2017
Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 55

One of the better college lefties in the Draft class, the Texas Christian ace worked past a minor injury issue to go No. 17 overall in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.

Finnegan's stuff ticked up a notch this past spring, leading to his largely dominant performance. Though he's a 5-foot-11, 185-pound left-hander, he can blow his fastball by most hitters. As a starter, Finnegan usually deals at 93-95 mph and reaches the upper 90s with his heater. He made strides with his low-80s slider during the summer while pitching in the Cape Cod League and with Team USA, and it has developed into a second weapon for him. Finnegan also uses a changeup, though he could scrap that pitch if he becomes a reliever in pro ball.

There's some effort in Finnegan's delivery, which sometimes hampers his ability to throw strikes and leads to questions about his durability, so the bullpen could be his destination. His stuff could play up in shorter stints, and he has upside as a closer.

7. Jorge Bonifacio, OF
Preseason rank:
4
ETA: 2015
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 60 | Run: 50 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50

Bonifacio's older brother, Emilio, has spent several years in the Major Leagues, and Jorge is on track to join him soon. Unlike Emilio, a speedy infielder, Jorge profiles as a prototypical right fielder.

Bonifacio has good bat speed and drives the ball well to all fields. He is still learning how to unlock his raw power in games. Bonifacio has average speed now, but he might lose a step as he fills out. He is a solid outfielder and has a strong arm.

Bonifacio missed six weeks in 2013 due to a broken hamate bone, but he came back to earn a late-season promotion to Double-A Northwest Arkansas, where he spent the 2014 season.

8. Christian Binford, RHP
Preseason rank:
12
ETA: 2016
Scouting grades: Fastball: 50 | Curveball: 40 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 60 | Overall: 50

The move to full-season ball can be a strong test for a prospect. After finishing third in the South Atlantic League in ERA and sixth in strikeouts in 2013, it's safe to say Binford passed with flying colors.

Tall and strong, Binford's fastball may grade out as average, but it plays up because it has a lot of sink and tail to it, and he commands it exceptionally well. Binford's changeup is his best secondary offering, and it, too, has plenty of sink. Not surprisingly, he generates a ton of ground balls. Binford's breaking ball is fringy right now, more slurvy than it should be. There is some effort to his delivery, but he has shown an ability to be a consistent strike-thrower.

The development of Binford's breaking ball and any added velocity might be the keys for him to reach his potential as a middle-of-the-rotation type of starter.

9. Foster Griffin, LHP
Preseason rank:
None (2014 Draft)
ETA: 2018
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 45 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50

A two-way standout in high school, Griffin had some serious momentum this spring as a left-handed pitcher, landing in the end of the first round.

Griffin is an advanced left-hander who shows a good feel for his three-pitch arsenal. He throws his fastball in the low 90s, with good natural run. Griffin's changeup is ahead of his slider at this point, but both have a chance to be above-average offerings. He throws strikes with all of his pitches and aggressively pounds the zone. Griffin is a good athlete and has a strong pitcher's body, and now focusing on pitching only, there could be some considerable upside.

10. Chase Vallot, C

Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
ETA: 2018
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 60 | Run: 45 | Arm: 60 | Field: 45 | Overall: 50

Like many of the top catching prospects in the 2014 Draft class, Vallot stood out more for his offensive prowess than his defensive abilities. Still, the Royals liked his tools enough to take him with the 40th pick overall.

Vallot has a quick swing with a lot of leverage, giving him above-average power. He performed well on the high school showcase circuit last summer, highlighted by winning the home run derby at the Perfect Game National in June. Vallot has a reliable approach and consistently makes hard contact.

Vallot's plus arm is a definite asset behind the plate, though he needs to smooth out his transfer and accuracy. His receiving and blocking skills also will have to get better. Vallot moves better than most catchers and should be able to transfer to an outfield corner if needed.

11.Scott Blewett, RHP

Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
ETA: 2018
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 50 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50

A minor shoulder problem may have impacted Blewett's ultimate place in the 2014 Draft, but the Royals were confident enough in his health and stuff to take him in the second round and give him nearly $800,000 more than pick value to sign him away from St. John's.

Already 6-foot-6 and 210 pounds, Blewett has the look of a big leaguer. He uses his size to throw his fastball on a steep downhill plane, and he has shown the ability to work in the low-90s and touch 95-96 mph at times. Blewett still needs to add strength to show that velocity more consistently and deeper into ballgames. He did a better job throwing tight mid-70s breaking balls and filling the strike zone than he had previously in his amateur career. Blewett will also flash a decent changeup.

Blewett has a loose arm and a sound delivery, considering his youth and size, giving him a better chance to reach his considerable ceiling.

12.Orlando Calixte, SS

Preseason rank: 10
ETA: 2015
Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 40 | Run: 50 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45

While you never want to take away a player's aggressiveness, Calixte is going to have to find a way to tone it down a touch in order to reach his potential.

Signed back in 2010 for $1 million, Calixte has teased with glimpses of offensive ability, especially some intriguing power for a middle infielder. But the Dominican is a free swinger to a fault, struggling with the soft stuff in particular, keeping him from tapping into that power. With a strong arm and average speed that gives him decent range, Calixte has the ability to play a solid shortstop, though the Royals started moving him around the infield a little bit in 2013. He was a shortstop only in 2014.

13. Bubba Starling, OF
Preseason rank:
8
ETA: 2016
Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 50 | Run: 60 | Arm: 60 | Field: 60 | Overall: 45

When the Royals took Starling No. 5 overall in 2011 and gave him $7.5 million to sign him away from being Nebraska's quarterback, they knew it might take some time for his raw tools to come into focus. Perhaps it's taken longer than expected, but it's too early to completely give up on Starling's athleticism.

Starling runs extremely well, has a superb throwing arm and can really defend in center field. That speed also enables him to be a basestealing threat. Starling has a good amount of raw power to tap into. The main concern has been his approach at the plate. He will need to improve his overall hitting ability in order to tap into that power more consistently.

The raw tools are all still there. How much the bat develops will determine if Starling can reach what was thought to be his very high ceiling.

14. Sam Selman, LHP
Preseason rank:
13
ETA: 2015
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 40 | Overall: 45

With his fastball and slider combination, there's a good chance Selman will pitch in the big leagues. What his role will be is yet to be determined.

The lefty out of Vanderbilt misses plenty of bats with those two pitches alone, striking out 10.5 per nine innings in his first year and change as a pro. The fastball can touch the mid-90s at times, and Selman's slider, while inconsistent, will show glimpses of being a very good weapon. His changeup has improved since his college days, but it's still fringy, at best. Selman's biggest issue has been command. As unhittable as he was during his first full season, he also walked more than six per nine.

If Selman can get his delivery in check and refine his command, he has a chance to start. If not, he has the stuff to succeed in the bullpen.

15. Cheslor Cuthbert, 3B
Preseason rank:
20
ETA: 2015
Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 45 | Run: 30 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45

While it may seem like Cuthbert has been around forever, any frustrations over his slow development should be tempered a bit by the fact he'll still only be 21 years old for all of the 2014 season.

That being said, many feel it's time for the Nicaraguan product to start living up to the potential he showed earlier in his career. Cuthbert has a good amount of raw power, but his approach at the plate hasn't allowed him to tap into it with any consistency. He has a thick lower half that makes him a below-average runner, though he has plenty of arm and decent enough actions to stick at third.

With youth still on his side, Cuthbert has the chance to develop into the corner infielder some envisioned, but the 2014 season will be a big one in determining if that can happen.

16. Jason Adam, RHP
Preseason rank:
9
ETA: 2015
Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Curveball: 45 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45

The Royals like when they can find talent in their own backyard, and they did so when they signed Adam away from Missouri in 2010.

The move to Double-A in 2013 caused struggles initially, but Adam improved tremendously as the year wore on. He repeated the level again in 2014. At his best, Adam has an above-average fastball, and he gained velocity in 2013, complementing it with a new slider, which should be at least Major League-average. He throws a curve and a changeup, but both lag behind. Adam will need to refine his command, especially with his offspeed stuff, in order to keep moving forward.

There's been some talk of Adam being a reliever, and that fastball-slider combination would play very well in short relief, but the strides he made have some believing the big right-hander still has the goods to start.

17. Elier Hernandez, OF
Preseason rank:
11
ETA: 2017
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 45 | Arm: 55 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45

The Royals were extremely aggressive in international spending in 2011. Hernandez, believed by many to be the top Latin American talent in that class, received $3 million to sign with Kansas City.

Hernandez made some impressive adjustments when repeating the Pioneer League in 2013, showing signs of tapping into his considerable offensive potential. A good athlete with tremendous bat speed, Hernandez has the chance to hit for average as well as power down the road, though he's more of a line-drive gap hitter now. That should give him a strong enough profile as a hitter to fit in right field. Hernandez certainly has the arm most teams want from the corner spot, and he runs well enough where he'll be a solid defender all-around.

Just how good Hernandez becomes depends largely on his bat, and he has the chance to become a very good everyday right fielder at the big league level.

18. Christian Colon, 2B
Preseason rank:
16
ETA: 2014
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 35 | Run: 40 | Arm: 45 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45

Drafted as a quick-to-the-big-leagues college performer out of Cal State Fullerton in 2010, it hasn't happened quite that way for Colon, though he did make his big league debut in '14.

Even at his best, Colon has always been one of those players whose whole is greater than the sum of his parts. His individual tools don't grade out well, but they've played up because of his plus instincts. Colon does have a knack for putting the ball in play and using the whole field. Though he has below-average speed, he'll still steal a base and has shown the ability to play shortstop and second. The right side of the infield is the only place Colon still has the chance to be a big league regular.

19. Marten Gasparini, SS
Preseason rank:
None
ETA: 2018
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 30 | Run: 60 | Arm: 45 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45

Ranked No. 4 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 30 International Prospects list in advance of the signing period in 2013, Gasparini set a record for a European prospect when he signed with the Royals for $1.3 million July 2.

Everything about the Italian infielder is projection right now, with the teenager years away from impacting the roster in Kansas City. That said, the switch-hitter has shown good bat speed from both sides, and his speed helps him on both sides of the ball. Gasparini can hit the gaps, but at least right now, it doesn't look like power is going to be a big part of his game. He has added some strength already, which should help him deal with the rigors of professional baseball.

It remains to be seen if Gasparini can stay at shortstop, but he does get high marks for his work ethic and makeup, things he'll need to make the long climb up the organizational ladder.

20. Ramon Torres, SS
Preseason rank:
None
ETA: 2017
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 35 | Run: 55 | Arm: 50| Field: 50 | Overall: 45

That's right, it's another young middle-infield prospect in the Royals' system worth watching.

While others in the organization get more ink, Torres has toiled under the radar, slowly making his way up the ladder and establishing himself in full-season ball in 2014. The switch-hitter has a good idea at the plate, largely keeping his strikeout rate down and making consistent contact. Some added strength has given Torres a bit more extra-base pop. He has decent speed and has shown some ability to steal a base. Defensively, Torres has the actions, range and arm to stick at short, though he's also seen a lot of time on the right side of the infield.

Second base might be Torres' eventual home because of the other shortstops in the system, but he has a ways to go before pushing that issue in Kansas City.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"event":["prospect" ] }