Just five years ago, the Kansas City Royals had what was widely considered as the best farm system in baseball. Baseball America had ranked nine Kansas City farmhands in their top 100 prospect list prior to the 2011 season. Five of these players were ranked in the top 20 (Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Wil Myers, John Lamb, Mike Montgomery) while Christian Colon, Danny Duffy, Jake Odorizzi, and Chris Dwyer found themselves on the bottom half of the list. Fast forward to 2016 and these players have seen varying levels of success.
Hosmer and Moustakas have become the cornerstones of the infield along with Salvador Perez, who rocketed from Double-A to Kansas City in 2011 and was not a big prospect coming into the 2011 campaign (he was behind Myers in the organization as a catching prospect before Kansas City shifted Myers to the outfield). An important trade brought Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar over from Milwaukee as well as Odorizzi, who was later flipped along with Myers and Montgomery for Wade Davis and James Shields. Pitching standouts Yordano Ventura, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera are also graduates of this farm system. But Lamb required Tommy John surgery and was eventually shipped to Cincinnati in the Johnny Cueto trade. Danny Duffy has become a staple of the pitching staff but may be better suited in the bullpen. Colon has shined in the postseason each of the past two seasons but is likely a utility man and Dwyer struggled once he reached the upper levels of the minors and is now a free agent. Two American League Pennants and a World Championship later and this farm system has understandably seen better days with ample homegrown talent on the major league roster.
There is more potential here than actual performance and it will be interesting to see how Dayton Moore and his staff will be able to keep the talent coming through the pipeline with fewer resources, such as later picks in the draft and having a smaller pool to spend in international free agency. Here are the top 20 prospects for the defending World Champions as it stands right now.