Kansas City Royals Top Fantasy Baseball Prospects

Royals top prospects for fantasy baseball

Despite being in a state of perpetual rebuild since falling from World Series champions in 2015 to last place in the AL Central in 2018, the Royals find themselves with quite possibly the worst farm system, devoid of a single consensus top-200 prospect. The top of Kansas City’s system is an uninspiring collection of future utilitymen, back-of-the-rotation starters, and raw lottery tickets. It appears that the rebuilding effort must continue and needs to focus more on restocking the entire farm system if the Royals are going to put together a team their fans can be proud of any time in the near future. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that there are a slew of 2024 ETAs, so KC could at least develop some major-league pieces to build on when a (hopefully) soon-to-be restocked farm system starts producing premium prospects again.

Be sure to head over to the Pitcher List dynasty page to check out the rest of the released prospect rankings!


Top Royals Prospects

The Top Tier

1) Austin Charles, SS, Age: 20

2023 MiLB Stats (R/ACL/A): .239 AVG | .296 OBP | .382 SLG | 4 HR | 12 SB | 24.8 K% | 7.2 BB%

If you like to dream on upside, then Charles is your guy in the Royals’ system. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound shortstop is an elite athlete with plus raw power and speed, but boy is he raw. Charles caught fire last summer and was batting .300 with 2 homers in his first 80 at-bats in Low-A, but he tailed off by hitting .199 with 1 homer over his final 47 games. Charles was a two-way player in high school, so he just needs reps to see how his shaky hit tool will develop.

Having just turned 20 in November, Charles has time to start 2024 back with Low-A Columbia to see if he can recapture the form he was showing early last season before taking on the challenge of High-A. If Charles makes big strides this year, you may even hear some Elly De La Cruz comps floated. Or if his second-half struggles of last year linger in Low-A, he will plummet down prospect rankings.

2) Mason Barnett, SP, Age: 23

2023 MiLB Stats (A+/AA): 114.2 IP | 3.30 ERA | 28.8 K% | 10.5 BB%

Drafted in the third round out of Auburn in 2022, Barnett broke out last year, capped by a 3.58 ERA and 43 Ks in 32.2 innings for Double-A Northwest Arkansas. Inconsistencies in his delivery paired with a little experience as a starter provide significant relief risk. That changed last season when he was able to hold his mid-90s fastball velocity through 114.2 innings and cleaned up his mechanics resulting in his walk rate coming down from 11.2% in High-A to 8.8% in Double-A.

Barnett has a plus mid-80s slider as well as 50 grades on his curve and changeup to fill out a solid four-pitch mix. He should make it to Triple-A this summer if he doesn’t start there out of spring training and has a chance to push for a shot at the Kansas City rotation by the end of the season. Barnett has mid-rotation upside with a fallback of being a high-leverage power reliever.

3) Samad Taylor, 2B, Age: 25

2023 MiLB Stats (AAA):.301 AVG | .418 OBP | .456 SLG | 8 HR | 43 SB | 20.5 K% | 15.9 BB%

2023 MLB Stats:.200 AVG | .279 OBP | .267 SLG | 0 HR | 8 SB | 31.9 K% | 10.1 BB%

Acquired from Toronto in the Whit Merrifield trade in August 2022, Taylor appears ready for a Major League role after producing a .301 average with 43 steals in Triple-A last year. Taylor is often overlooked as just a future utility man, but with a fantasy-friendly profile that includes decent pop and solid plate discipline to go with tremendous speed, he is someone to watch in 2024. Since reaching the upper levels in 2021 with Toronto, Taylor has combined for 33 homers, 96 steals, a .289 average, and a 12.7% walk rate over 190 Double-A/Triple-A games.

Taylor struggled in his first taste of the majors, posting a paltry .546 OPS with a wretched 31.9% strikeout rate over 69 plate appearances. That he managed 8 steals and 11 runs despite producing just a .279 OBP gives a taste of what he could do if his strikeout rate were to look more like his Triple-A total of 21.2%. The Royals aren’t exactly set at Taylor’s natural position of second base, where career .233-hitter Michael Massey is penciled in to start in 2024. If Taylor could wrest control of a starting job in KC this summer, he could be an impactful force in fantasy.

4) Blake Wolters, SP, Age: 19

2023 MiLB Stats (R/ACL): Has yet to make pro debut

Wolters saw his fastball velocity build up as high as 99 mph leading up to the 2023 draft and was selected 44th overall out of an Illinois high school, signing for an above-slot $2.8 million. The Royals brought along Wolters slowly like usual for a prep pitcher, but he finished the season striking out Brewers first-rounder Brock Wilken in his second and final instructional league appearance in October. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound right-hander has a lot of development left on the rest of his arsenal, which includes a potentially-plus slider and a raw changeup for now.

Wolters was an all-area basketball player as a junior in high school before turning his focus to baseball, illustrating how athletic he is. He has drawn comparisons to Dodgers right-hander Bobby Miller, a fellow Illinois prep product with a big fastball. There’s a long way to go, but Wolters gives Kansas City its best chance at a future front-of-the-rotation stud.

5) Cayden Wallace, 3B, Age: 22

2023 MiLB Stats: (A+/AA): .254 AVG | .331 OBP | .414 SLG | 13 HR | 18 SB | 20.6 K% | 9.5 BB%

Wallace was a second-round pick in 2022 as a draft-eligible sophomore out of Arkansas after leading the Razorbacks to the College World Series. After putting up solid stats in High-A last year – .772 OPS, 10 HR, 15 SB – Wallace struggled with a .662 OPS in 33 games in Double-A. He produces excellent exit velocities and has plus power that is still coming mostly from the pull side, but he has the smooth swing and feel for the barrel that could lead to a breakout in 2024.

Having settled in at third base after playing mostly outfield in college, Wallace could produce above-average steals for the position despite average raw speed. Likely ticketed back to Double-A to start the upcoming season, Wallace has the hit tool to be knocking on the door in Kansas City by September if all goes right.

6) Nick Loftin, 2B/3B, Age: 25

2023 MiLB Stats (R/ACL/AAA): .280 AVG | .362 OBP | .458 SLG | 15 HR | 7 SB | 13.3 K% | 10.4 BB%

2023 MLB Stats:.323 AVG | .368 OBP | .435 SLG | 0 HR | 2 SB | 17.6 K% | 5.9 BB%

Loftin is a Major League-ready utility man, having put up a .803 OPS for the Royals in a 19-game cup of coffee last September. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound infielder made at least four starts each at first, second, and third base for Kansas City. He has experience in the outfield as well, having made 55 starts on the grass in 2022, but just three in left field last year. The defensive versatility will help him get playing time in Kansas City, but it’s his bat that is his carrying tool. Loftin slashed his strikeout rate in Triple-A from 24.4% in 2022 to 13.1% last year before posting a 17.6% in the majors.

Lofting has done nothing but hit since being drafted 32nd overall in 2020. He owns a career .272 average and .353 OBP in the minors, as well as 42 homers and 47 steals in 306 games. Loftin will join Taylor as the competition for Michael Massey in the spring training second base starting job battle. Loftin could settle for the primary backup infield role if he proves better than Garrett Hampson. There’s not a huge ceiling here, but Loftin could offer a solid average with decent power and a smattering of speed if he can secure playing time in Kansas City this season.

7) Frank Mozzicato, SP, Age: 20

2023 MiLB Stats (A/A+): 93 IP | 4.65 ERA | 31.5 K% | 16.2 BB%

Best known for pitching four consecutive no-hitters in high school, the Royals popped Mozzicato with the seventh overall pick in the 2021 draft. The 60-grade curveball that devastated high school batters in Connecticut is still his best pitch, but the Royals are still waiting for the velocity to increase on his low-90s fastball. Smooth and athletic, the 6-foot-3, 170-pound left-hander is projectable that he could fill out more and throw harder.

Mozzicato made a big splash in his first start of 2023, striking out 13 in 6 scoreless innings for Low-A Columbia. He earned a mid-season promotion to High-A Quad Cities, but his control deserted him with an 18.5 BB% and was crushed for a 7.12 ERA over 9 starts. Mozzicato will need to start back in High-A, but keep an eye on his early velocity readings as a boost to his fastball could put him back on track toward his mid-rotation upside.


Prospects Dynasty Managers Should Know

8) Tyler Gentry, OF, Age: 24

2023 MiLB Stats (AAA): .253 AVG | .370 OBP | .421 SLG | 16 HR | 14 SB | 22.2 K% | 14.2 BB%

Gentry took a step back last season after breaking out in 2022 when he combined for a .326/.422/.542 triple-slash, 21 homers and 10 steals in A+/AA. A third-round pick out of Alabama in 2020, Gentry got off to a slow start last season in Triple-A with a .697 OPS in the first half, but he looked a lot more like the 2022 version after the break with a .284/.413/.488 triple slash, 10 homers, and 10 steals. There isn’t a whole lot in front of Gentry in the KC outfield, so he could jump into the picture with a hot spring training.

9) Gavin Cross, OF, Age: 22

2023 MiLB Stats (A+/AA): .203 AVG | .298 OBP | .378 SLG | 12 HR | 23 SB | 27.8 K% | 10.4 BB%

The ninth overall pick in the 2022 draft out of Virginia Tech, Cross took a nosedive last season with a .683 OPS in High-A. Just two games after reaching Double-A in August, Cross missed the rest of the season with an illness. There’s a ton of power here if Cross can get back on track, as evidenced by the one good week he had last season when he hit five homers in six days in May.

10) Blake Mitchell, C, Age: 19

2023 MiLB Stats (R/ACL): .147 AVG | .423 OBP | .176 SLG | 0 HR | 1 SB | 26.9 K% | 32.7 BB%

High school catchers are one of the riskiest demographics, but the Royals popped Mitchell at No. 8 overall in the 2023 draft and signed him to an under-slot deal just below $5 million. Mitchell has tons of bat speed and strength that give him plus grades on his hit and power tools, combining with the ability to stick at catcher and give Kansas City fans a huge ceiling to dream on.

11) Yandel Ricardo, SS, Age: 17

2023 Stats: Has yet to make pro debut

The Royals nabbed one of the better international prospects on Jan. 15 for a $2.4 million signing bonus, bringing the switch-hitting Ricardo into the fold from the Dominican Republic. Ricardo has shown power potential from both sides of the plate to go with plus hit and run tools, fortifying the Kansas City system with a much-needed impact talent.

12) David Sandlin, SP, Age: 22

2023 MiLB Stats (A/A+): 66.2 IP | 3.51 ERA | 32.1 K% | 6.6 BB%

Just an 11th-round pick out of Oklahoma in 2022, Sandlin dominated in Low-A last season before a strained oblique ended his season after two starts in High-A. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound right-hander has a mid-90s fastball to go with an excellent slider that has been his best pitch, but he’ll need more from his curve and change if he’s to avoid an eventual move to the bullpen.

13) Matt Sauer, SP, Age: 24

2023 MiLB Stats (R/FCL/A+/AA): 74 IP | 3.41 ERA | 30.3 K% | 11.1 BB%

The Royals took Sauer with the second pick of December’s Rule 5 Draft, so he’ll have to stick in Kansas City after posting a 3.42 ERA in 68.1 innings in Double-A last season. A second-round pick by the Yankees back in 2017, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound right-hander finished last season on a roll with a 2.12 ERA and 34 Ks in 29.2 innings over his final five starts. With a mid-90s fastball and a solid slider, Sauer will likely spend 2024 as a multi-inning reliever while he develops on the fly.

14) Javier Vaz, 2B/OF, Age: 23

2023 MiLB Stats (A+/AA): .279 AVG | .373 OBP | .400 SLG | 8 HR | 30 SB | 9.7 K% | 12.4 BB%

Vaz has been compared to fellow Vanderbilt product Tony Kemp as an undersized second baseman/outfielder with tremendous bat-to-ball skills and plus speed. Listed at 5-foot-9 and 151 pounds, Vaz isn’t ever going to hit for power, but he’s a good bet to eventually settle into a utility role in KC.

15) Ben Kudrna, SP, Age: 20

2023 MiLB Stats (A/A+): 108.2 IP | 4.22 ERA | 22.2 K% | 9.6 BB%

Kudrna played his high school baseball about 30 miles south of Kauffman Stadium and was drafted 43rd overall in 2021, signing for a $3 million bonus to keep him away from an LSU commitment. The 6-foot-3, 175-pound right-hander already has a mid-90s fastball that could see an uptick as he continues to fill out. Kudrna gets plus grades on his slider and changeup but will need to raise his strikeout rate to reach his ceiling as a mid-rotation workhorse.


The Next Five

Although these prospects do not crack the top 15, dynasty managers should keep their eye on these five players.

16) Chandler Champlain (Age: 24) – Acquired from Yankees in 2022 trade for Andrew Benintendi, 6-foot-5, 220-pound right-hander should start 2024 in Triple-A and could be a back-of-the-rotation option by late summer.

17) Peyton Wilson (Age: 24)  Another diminutive 2B/OF, ticketed for Triple-A to start ’24 and could provide cheap speed in KC by season’s end.

18) Ramon Ramirez (Age: 18) – Venezuelan catcher broke out last year in the Dominican Summer League with .344/.440/.615 triple-slash and will make his stateside debut in Arizona Complex League in ’24.

19) Trevor Werner (Age: 23) – Just seventh-rounder in 2023 out of Texas A&M, 6-foot-3 third baseman impressed in pro debut with 1.158 OPS and 8 homers in 31 Low-A games.

20) Anthony Veneziano (Age: 26) – 6-foot-5 lefty features mid-90s sinker but spotty command and should see work in Kansas City this summer as a spot starter or reliever.


Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on X)

Rudy Ropp

Rudy Ropp is a Dynasty Fantasy Analyst here at Pitcher List and has written about fantasy baseball since 1999. Co-founder of RotoProspects.com which features a weekly-updated Top 500 Prospects and a monthly-updated Dynasty Top 500 Rankings. I have similar love for movies and music - my dream used to be the next Quentin Tarentino as a former video store clerk or a Rolling Stone writer like in Almost Famous. In addition to being a fantasy baseball nut, I'm a dad, avid traveler, Star Wars fanatic, lifelong Mariners fan, pickleball player, and newspaper sports writer/designer/editor.

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