Continuing with the preview series here’s my look at the 2016 Lexington Legends.
The Legends are a Kansas City Royals franchise and in putting this preview together I scoured Idaho Falls, Burlington and the Arizona Royals rosters. I then spoke to Royals prospector Clinton Scoles about how the team manages promotions and league assignments in the low minors.
Question #1: With three levels of rookie ball do high school draftees and international signees ever skip more than one level and head for Lexington, or do they typically hit two or more?
“Typically high end HS talent starts in rookie ball the same yr they are drafted. Like Russell/Watson going to Burlington last year & then the next year go to Single A.”
“International talent takes a step at a time. DSL when they are 16, Arizona, Idaho Falls & Burlington at 17 and then Single A at 18. The exception has been Mondesi who they have been ridiculously aggressive with mostly due to his familiarity w/ the US & his ability to fit into a clubhouse, Cuthbert and Bonifacio are better examples of how they handle the upper end international talent. If an international player has assimilated to the US they will push a tad quicker, example Cuthbert. Had he continued to hit like he did the first half of his first single A season the Royals will push a guy.”
“Aaron Crow, Colon skipped single A as did Finnegan but that is a 1st round high level college guy only thing for them and they only take those types if they can get a high end talent later in the 1st or 2nd rounds.”
Ashe Russell – age 19, listed 6’4″ 201 lbs, bats and throws right. Russell was selected 21st overall in the 2015 draft out of high school in Indianapolis, In. According to mlb.com he features 2 plus pitches in the fastball and slider. He didn’t throw a change in high school but he’ll need to develop one now.
Nolan Watson – age 19, listed 6’2″ 195 lbs, bats and throws right. Watson was selected 33rd overall in the 2015 draft out of high school in Indianapolis, In. According to mlb.com Watson had a velocity spike the spring before the draft and now sits 92-95 and all 3 of his secondary pitches slider, curve and change all grade average or better.
Marten Gasparini – Age 18, listed 6′ 195, bats both and throws right. Gasparini was signed out Italy in 2013 for $1.3 Mil breaking the record for highest bonus ever given to a European player previously held by Max Kepler who was signed out of Germany for $800K. A toolsy shortstop with plus speed. Gasparini is one of the guys I’m most looking forward to seeing this year.
Amalani Fukofuka – Age 20, listed 6’1″ 180 lbs, bats and throws right. Drafted in the 5th round of the 2013 draft out of high school in Union City, Ca (San Francisco area). A high school wide receiver Fukofuka is raw and athletic with a fast bat. A high risk and reward type of player. It should be fun to watch him develop.
Garrett Davila – Age 19, listed 6’2″ 180 lbs, bats and throws left. Davila was drafted in the 4th round of the 2015 out of high school in Gastonia, NC (Charlotte area). According to mlb.com Davila is a command and control lefty who had a velocity spike into the low 90’s, he also mixes in a developing Curve and change. He didn’t pitch post draft because the Royals want him to get stronger.
Around the diamond
Chase Vallot and/or Xavier Fernandez could be back in Lex. and Luis Lara and Meibrys Viloria (who the org is high on) could see time too.
At shortstop it will likely be Marten Gasparini.
At 2nd base 21st round pick Austin Bailey got into 30 games with Lexington primarily as a 2nd baseman, he could be coming back. Also in the mix at 2nd base is 2014 4th rounder D.J. Burt, and late rd pick Brian Bien got a cup of coffee at Lexington in 2015.
2014 9th rd pick Brandon Thomasson has spent his time at 1st base and corner outfield. Taylor Ostrich could also see time at 1st.
At 3rd base, 20 yr old Aussie Ryan Dale and returnee Angelo Castellano could both get starts, as could Trey Stover.
I love the outfield depth. In addition to Fukofuka who’s mostly spent time in center and right, there’s 5th round pick Roman Collins in left, and 6th round pick Cody Jones in center. We may also see 11th rounder Ben Johnson and Rudy Martin both of which had seen time at all 3 outfield positions. Also in the mix for playing time in the outfield are late round picks Luke Willis, Tanner Stanley and Colton Frabasilio who spent time at both catcher and left field post draft. .
In addition to Ashe Russell, Nolan Watson and perhaps Garrett Davila we’ll likely get some of these pitchers: Todd Eaton, Derek Gordon, Carter Hope, Daniel Concepcion, Dylan Sons, and Julio Pinto.
I enjoyed my look at the Royals system. This is a talented squad particularly in the outfield, at shortstop, and starting pitching.
I’ll be back soon with a look at the Rome Braves