FREE PREVIEW: Prospects 41-50

Royals Corner is pleased to offer a free preview of our Top 50 prospect rankings. Inside are the rankings for prospects #41-50, including short reports about each player. If you like what you see, be sure to subscribe so you can have access to the rest of our Top 50 coverage, including the detailed individual prospect reports that will be published in the coming weeks.

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41. Mitch Hodge, SP
Age: 18  B-T: R-R  HT: 5-11   WT: 174

The Royals selected Mitch Hodge with their fourth round pick in the 2007 draft, and the young Canadian was sent to the Arizona Royals to begin his career. Hodge had a nice debut, compiling a 4.24 ERA in 40.1 innings pitched while striking out 35 batters. He had more polish than most pitchers on the staff, and coaches commented on how well he repeated his delivery. Hodge works primarily with his upper-80s to low-90s fastball and his changeup, which has nice tailing action and could develop into a plus offering. His curveball still needs some work, and he's working on adding more bite by throwing the pitch harder.


42. Harold Mozingo, SP
Age: 22  B-T: R-R  HT: 6-1   WT: 175

Harold Mozingo, who was selected in the sixth round of the 2006 draft after an outstanding career at Virginia Commonwealth University, spent the year pitching for Burlington in the Midwest League. Mozingo was a little inconsistent, occasionally leaving pitches up in the zone and getting hit hard. On the season, he compiled a 7-8 record with a 4.75 ERA in 94.2 innings pitched before being shut down in early August. When he's going well, he‘s a strike thrower with command of low-90s fastball and a good curveball. In fact, when he was shut down, Mozingo was second in the entire organization in first pitch strike percentage, jumping ahead in the count 67 percent of the time. He remains an interesting prospect, and he should get a shot at High-A in 2008.


43. Michael Lehmann, SP
Age: 18  B-T: S-R  HT: 6-2   WT: 190

The Royals went way over slot to sign their 2007 20th round pick, Michael Lehmann, and he rewarded the organization with an outstanding debut for the Arizona Royals. The 18-year old pitcher went 5-1 with a 2.64 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 44.1 innings pitched, and opponents hit just .218 against him. Lehmann had a little trouble early on by getting a little quick with his delivery, but once he settled in, he started locating his pitches better and challenging hitters. He earned high praise from coaches for being a tough competitor, and he showed a good fastball and curveball that could both develop into quality offerings, along with a developing changeup.


44. Fernando Cruz, 3B
Age: 17  B-T: S-R  HT: 6-2   WT: 184

Fernando Cruz, a 17-year old who was home schooled in Puerto Rico, was declared draft eligible right before the 2007 draft, and the Royals gladly took him in the sixth round and assigned him to Arizona. Cruz was young even for the Arizona League, and he struggled in his first exposure to pro ball, hitting just .210/.254/.265 with one home run in 181 at bats. The Royals expected him to struggle, but they view him as an exciting player with a live body, and they believe he is going to develop physically into a strong offensive player. Though Cruz was drafted as a shortstop, the club moved him to third base, where they expect him to stick. He is obviously still a long way from developing into the player he will ultimately be, but his upside could be considerable.


45. Clint Robinson, 1B
Age: 22  B-T: L-L  HT: 6-4   WT: 225

Nobody in the system put up a better offensive season than Clint Robinson, who the Royals selected in the 25th round of the 2007 draft. The big first baseman torched the Pioneer League, winning league MVP honors while hitting .336/.388/.593 with 15 home runs in 253 at bats. Robinson is described by some folks in the organization as a ‘gamer,‘ and he displays good raw power, particularly in batting practice. There are some concerns about his bat speed and whether or not he'll continue to rake at higher levels, but Robinson employs a good approach at the plate and doesn't strike out very often. For a big man, he handles himself well at first base, where he played full time for the Chukars. With the lack of first base prospects in the lower minors, Robinson could move quickly, especially if he keeps hitting..


46. Chris Nicoll, SP
Age: 24  B-T: R-R  HT: 6-2   WT: 190

Hands down, Chris Nicoll had the most disappointing season of any farmhand in the organization. Nicoll was attempting to build upon his excellent 2006 campaign, in which he rose to the ranks of the best pitching prospects in the organization after compiling a 2.82 ERA for the Burlington Bees with over a strikeout per inning and excellent control. In contrast, however, his 2007 season was a complete disaster. Nicoll got what is commonly referred to as the yips, a total loss of command, and he made just 12 appearances for the Blue Rocks (with an ERA north of 7.00) before being sent to Arizona. There he worked with pitching coach Mark Davis, who battled through a similar problems during his career, but Nicoll never returned to competitive action before being allowed to go home to California. Nobody knows what to expect from Nicoll in 2008, or whether or not he'll be ready come spring training. We're holding out hope that he can somehow regain the confidence and command he had in 2006, because he definitely has the talent to go far.


47. Chris McConnell, SS
Age: 22  B-T: R-R  HT: 5-11   WT: 175

A couple of years ago, McConnell generated significant excitement in the organization after back-to-back outstanding offensive campaigns in rookie ball, and he looked to be on the fast track through the system. That plan got derailed a bit last season, however, as McConnell ran into a wall (figuratively) in the Midwest League and wound up being sent back to Idaho Falls for the remainder of the year. He returned to Burlington to begin this season, and while he didn't light the world on fire by any means, he did show some improvement and earned a midseason promotion to Wilmington. He finished the season with a combined line of .233/.307/.326, but most importantly, his defense improved significantly. McConnell has the tools to be a plus defensive middle infielder, and if he can hit with a little more pop as he continues to mature physically, he has a shot. He's a great athlete, and we've heard some good reports about his progression at instructs.


48. Luis Cota, SP
Age: 22  B-T: R-R  HT: 6-2   WT: 200

At one time a couple of years ago, Luis Cota ranked as perhaps the best pitching prospect in the organization. However, Cota has been going in the wrong direction as a prospect, first with a rough 2006 season in High Desert, followed by shoulder surgery in 2007 that cost him the entire season. When he's healthy, Cota has a plus fastball with movement and a hard slider that can be devastating. He's currently rehabbing in Arizona, and latest word is that his side sessions have been good. The ball is coming out of his hand well, and the Royals anticipate that he will be ready by the time spring training rolls around. At this point, it is impossible to determine if the Royals will ever get much out of the $1 million investment they made by signing Cota as a draft-and-follow in 2004, but if he returns fully healthy, he could make some noise.


49. Bryan Paukovits, SP
Age: 20  B-T: R-R  HT: 6-7   WT: 238

The Royals drafted Bryan Paukovits in both 2005 and 2006 as a draft-and-follow, and they kept in contact with him about the things they wanted him to improve on. He didn't make much progress in 2005, but he worked hard on his pitch location and conditioning in 2006, and the Royals made him their last-ever draft-and-follow signee this spring. The towering righty reported to Burlington (NC), and he had a decent debut, going 3-4 with a 4.91 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 51.1 innings pitched. Paukovits offers a lot of projection, but he must continue to work on his conditioning and agility to continue moving through the system. He offers a fastball that sits in the low- to mid-90s, along with a developing curveball that shows promise. Like a lot of big guys, there is some effort to his delivery, and he will continue refining his mechanics as he moves forward.


50. Jamar Walton, OF
Age: 21  B-T: L-R  HT: 6-4   WT: 195

If Jamar Walton ever puts everything together, he could be a beast. The 21-year old outfielder was acquired by the Royals after the Marlins released the former fourth-round pick during the season. Walton is a physical specimen with above average raw power and outstanding tools, and he came out of high school being heavily recruited by major college programs for baseball, football, and basketball. Though he's listed at 195 lbs., he's more like 230, and he just has the look of a guy who can hit with authority. The Royals slowed Walton's stride down a bit, and he put together a nice half-season for the Bees, hitting .278/.349/.402 with three homers and 12 doubles in 169 at bats. Walton is still very raw, but the Royals don't have many players who can match his tools, and he's certainly worth watching in the coming season. He resigned with the club this fall, and he could head to Wilmington next season.




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