A Minor Review of 2017: Kansas City Royals by Marc Hulet November 20, 2017 The Royals system lacks can’t-miss, high-impact talent but it has some depth. I’m a big fan of catcher M.J. Melendez. The Graduate: Scott Alexander, LHP: This southpaw (who’s equally successful against both right- and left-handed hitters) is one of the most underrated relievers in the game — especially during this period of juiced balls. His eye-popping ground-ball rate of 78% led the Majors and he struck out a quite a few more batters (21%) than the typical sinker ball pitcher. He was also an anomaly because threw his 94 mph heater a whopping 94% of the time with his slider a very distant 4.5%. His success is somewhat impress considering big league hitters always know what’s coming. First Taste of The Show: Eric Skoglund, RHP: Skoglund, 25, pitched at three levels in 2017 but was roughed up in the Majors when he uncharacteristically struggled with both his command and his control. Because he’s not overpowering, he needs both of those working to get out big league hitters. Skoglund has a four-pitch mix but both of his breaking balls are inconsistent. His best pitch is his 89-92 mph fastball (when he’s commanding it) despite the lack of velo. He’ll likely open 2018 back in triple-A but, with some polish, he has a chance to develop into a No. 4 starter. The Stud: Nick Pratto, 1B: A two-way player in high school, the Royals tabbed Pratto as a hitter in the 2017 draft and he had a respectable debut. The left-handed hitter has a chance to hit for both average and power as he focused on one position and ditches the pitching side of his game. He also possesses a lot of value in the field and could turn into a gold glove type player at the position. Pratto also has a strong arm and could see some time in the outfield. The Royals will probably take a long look at him in the spring to determine if he’s polished enough to make the jump to full-season ball. The Draft Pick: M.J. Melendez, C: The son of a college baseball coach, Melendez has above-average baseball instincts to go with above-average athleticism. If his bat can keep up, the young catcher could move quickly through the system as he’s already an accomplished receiver and leader. Melendez struck out too much in his debut — especially for someone with limited power — but he shows flashes of the skills necessary to be a good offensive catcher. The Riser: Khalil Lee, OF: A 2016 third rounder, Lee shows flashes of developing into a dynamic talent. Just 19, he could eventually develop into a 20-20 (or even 30-30) player if he can learn to make enough contact. He went deep 17 times and stole 20 bases during his first full season. Unfortunately, he also struck out 171 times in 121 games. He has a chance to be a big league center-fielder but might lack the instincts to stick there. He should move up to high-A ball in 2018 but could be 3-4 years away. The Sleeper: Emmanuel Rivera, 3B: Rivera could eventually turn out to be a steal as a former 19th round pick. He has a chance to be a special player on defence at the hot corner and he could develop just enough offensive skill to be an everyday player. He needs to become a little more patient at the plate which could help him hit for a better average and find more balls to drive with authority. The 21-year-old prospect will receive a bigger test as he moves up to high-A ball in 2018.