The Royals prospects at this point on this list represent an interesting mix of players. Several of the players figure to see at least some time at the big league level despite limited tools, while others have promising tools but are still something of longshots to reach the majors. Inside are the scouting reports for the players who ranked 41-50 on this year's top 60 prospect list.
Editor's notes: All player ages are listed as of December 31, 2008. Players who spent significant time in the Major Leagues and/or surpassed 50 innings pitched or 100 at bats were excluded from this year's list.
41. Greg Holland, RP
Age: 23 B-T: R-R HT: 5-11 WT: 180
Greg Holland, the Royals' 10th round pick in the 2007 draft, made a huge leap in the system in 2008 without skipping a beat. After a solid 2007 professional debut in the Pioneer League, Holland broke camp with the Wilmington Blue Rocks, and he put together an impressive season that justified his advancement and positioned him as one of the best relief prospects in the Royals' system. On the year, the right-hander out of Western Carolina compiled a 3.42 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 84.1 innings pitched. Holland, who turned 23 in November, has a four-pitch repertoire, including a fastball that tops out around 96 mph and an occasionally plus slider. He saw action as both a starter and reliever in 2008, but the Royals believe he is better suited for the bullpen, and the starts he made were primarily geared toward getting him more innings. Holland missed some time midseason with an elbow strain, but he recovered well, and he could continue to be a fast mover in the system. As it stands, his fastball is among the best in the organization.
42. Chris Lubanski, OF
Age: 23 B-T: L-L HT: 6-3 WT: 210
It always took Chris Lubanski some time to adjust to each level as he moved up through the system, and the Royals were hopeful that he would show considerable improvement at the Triple-A level during his second season in Omaha. Unfortunately, the results were not terribly favorable in 2008. Lubanski hit just .242/.306/.448 with 15 home runs in 393 at bats for the O-Royals last season, and his prospect light has clearly dimmed considerably. Lubanksi still does several things well. He shows pretty good power, he still runs fairly well for a big man, and he plays a decent left field, even though he often looks better in practice than in games. One has to figure that 2009 will be Lubanski's last chance to prove himself capable of playing at the next level (at least with the Royals), so hopefully he is able to put together a season that earns him a look in Kansas City. The odds of that happening at this point probably aren't very good, but Lubanski has throughout his career shown a knack for surprising skeptics.
43. Patrick Norris, OF
Age: 22 B-T: S-R HT: 6-2 WT: 190
Patrick Norris does a few things very well. He is a switch hitting, plus-plus runner with great baserunning instincts (he has stolen 63 bases in two rookie ball campaigns with an 85 percent success rate), he has well above average range in the outfield, and he gets on base at a very good clip (.375 career OBP). Those skills by themselves make him a legitimate prospect. His swing consistency hasn't been great, however, and he projects at this point as a Tom Goodwin type hitter at the big league level. Of course, that type of player can have value, and Norris spent the 2008 season focusing on slapping the ball to the left side and forcing defensive mistakes with his speed. Indeed, it is an understatement to say that his speed is disruptive to opposing defenses, and despite his lack of power, it is pretty easy to envision Norris one day roaming a major league outfield, especially if his ability to get on base remains as he faces pitchers with better control in full season ball. Norris probably has a better likelihood of reaching the major leagues than many players surrounding him on this list, but his upside is limited by a swing that generates very little power.
44. Kyle Martin, SS
Age: 24 B-T: R-R HT: 6-0 WT: 175
Selected as a senior out of Texas Tech in the 29th round of the 2007 draft, Kyle Martin began his career in the Royals' system without much fanfare. The shortstop debuted with the Burlington Royals in 2007 and hit just .242, but his 10 home runs led the club and was the second-highest total in the Appalachian League. The Royals' abundance of middle infielders in the lower minors left Martin stuck in extended spring training at the beginning of the 2008 season, but he joined the Burlington Bees in May and immediately began making the most of his opportunities. Martin finished the season with an impressive line of .316/.373/.537 and nine home runs in 190 at bats. He led the Bees in both on-base percentage and slugging percentage, and he homered once every 21.1 at bats, which is a better ratio than teammate and Midwest League home run champion Mike Moustakas. The Royals sent Martin to the Hawaii Winter Baseball League after the regular season, and he continued to hit the ball out of the ballpark, tying for the league lead in home runs with six. Put simply, Martin has very good raw power for a middle infielder, and that tool, along with his serviceable, versatile glove (he played every position on the infield in 2008), makes him an interesting guy to watch. He has been a bit old for every league he has played in thus far, but the example of Mike Aviles shows that a guy who can consistently square up on pitches always has a chance.
45. Clint Robinson, 1B
Age: 23 B-T: L-L HT: 6-4 WT: 225
Robinson entered the 2008 season looking to build upon the 2007 campaign that netted him the Pioneer League MVP award. He got off to a good start for the Burlington Bees, but early in the season the big first baseman suffered a wrist injury while sliding into a base. Robinson played through the injury for awhile, but his numbers began to tank, and he wound up missing the majority of May. It took Robinson some time to get back up to speed after the injury, but he finished strong, hitting .301/.365/.515 with five home runs in August as the Bees wrapped up the second half title. On the season, Robinson hit .264/.333/.472 with 17 home runs in 379 at bats while splitting time equally between first base and DH. Robinson has impressive raw power, and his numbers from his first exposure to full season ball are encouraging. Defensively, he is slow and lacks much range, but the Royals do not feel that he is a liability at first base. He will likely continue to rotate between first base and DH as he moves forward to Wilmington in 2009.
46. Marc Maddox, IF
Age: 25 B-T: R-R HT: 5-11 WT: 185
Maddox took a nice step forward in 2008. After struggling a bit with the Blue Rocks in 2007, he moved up to Northwest Arkansas this year and put together a fine offensive campaign. The second baseman in 2008 hit .283/.363/.375 with four home runs and 30 doubles in 453 at bats for the Naturals. Although at this point it seems clear that the power Maddox showed in college (where he hit 53 home runs in four years) likely will not materialize at the professional level, he did drive the ball more consistently and saw his power numbers rise across the board, in addition to his batting average and on-base percentage. Defensively, scouts doubt that Maddox will ever become an average second baseman – even though he's hardly a butcher out there – so his bat and his versatility (he can play third base and first base as well) will have to carry him.
47. Dusty Hughes, P
Age: 26 B-T: L-L HT: 5-10 WT: 187
Dusty Hughes put himself back on the prospect map with a solid 2007 campaign after missing the entire 2006 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. In 2008, Hughes split time between Northwest Arkansas and Omaha, compiling a cumulative 4.00 ERA with 79 strikeouts in 108.0 innings pitched between the two levels. Hughes primarily pitched out of the bullpen with the Naturals, and his numbers there were considerably better as a reliever than as a starter. Hughes struggled a bit after his promotion to Omaha, where he pitched almost exclusively as a starter. Hughes' best pitch is his changeup, which he mixes with a high-80s/low-90s fastball and a decent curveball. He projects best as a fifth starter or a swing man in the major leagues. It will be interesting to see whether the Royals leave Hughes as a starter or decide to convert him to a full-time reliever. The concern about the latter option has always been that because Hughes' out pitch is his changeup, his usefulness in coming out of the bullpen to face left-handed batters could be limited.
48. Matt Mitchell, SP
Age: 19 B-T: R-R HT: 6-2 WT: 205
After signing for an above slot $100,000 bonus as a 14th rounder in 2007, Mitchell had an outstanding debut and was selected as the Arizona Royals' Pitcher of the Year. When 2008 arrived, he was one of the few 2007 high school draftees assigned to a full season club, and he did a nice job as one of the Burlington Bees' workhorses. Mitchell appeared in 25 games for the Bees, going 8-8 while logging a solid 3.47 ERA with 77 strikeouts and 25 walks in 116.2 innings pitched. Mitchell's fastball sits in the high-80s, and he mixes in an average curveball and a potentially above average change-up. He worked extensively on his curveball, trying to add velocity to the pitch to generate a harder break. Because it is not yet an out pitch for him, his strikeout rate fell quite sharply in 2008 as he faced more advanced hitters, and the lack of an out pitch as he moves forward could hold up his progress. Of more immediate concern, however, is Mitchell's health. He was sidelined in late August with what was deemed a strained forearm, but after attempting to pitch through the pain, it was determined that he needed Tommy John surgery. He had the procedure in late October, and he will miss the entire 2009 season.
49. John Lamb, P
Age: 18 B-T: L-L HT: 6-3 WT: 185
Even though John Lamb did not pitch at all during his senior season in high school, the Royals selected the southpaw in the fifth round of the 2008 draft and signed him to a $165,000 bonus. It has been a slow recovery for Lamb, who suffered a broken elbow in a car accident last February. Still, the Royals hope that once he has fully recovered, he will be the same pitcher who drew the inevitable comparisons to Tom Glavine during high school showcases. When healthy, Lamb had a good fastball that tops out in the low-90s, along with a promising curveball. He has earned high praise for his intelligence on the mound, and he should be ready to go when spring training rolls around. He will likely stay behind in extended spring training, and if all goes well, he should debut with one of the rookie ball clubs during the summer. If that happens, he could rise quickly.
50. Mike Lehmann, SP
Age: 19 B-T: S-R HT: 6-2 WT: 190
Mike Lehmann used the 2008 season to build upon a solid 2007 debut with the Arizona Royals. After putting up some of the best numbers on the 2007 AZL staff, Lehmann headed to the Appalachian League in 2008, where he was one of the B-Royals' most effective starters. On the season, the 19-year old right-hander went 4-4 with a 3.43 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 57.2 innings pitched. He cut his walk rate as well, and was more successful at inducing ground balls while keeping opponents to a .257 batting average. Lehmann was particularly good in July, when in six appearances he logged a 1.24 ERA with 24 strikeouts (and just three walks) in 29.0 innings pitched. The Royals remain intrigued by Lehmann, who was signed to a $123,000 bonus after being selected in the 20th round of the 2007 draft. He has a good fastball and curveball, and while his change-up is still a work in progress, it shows signs of becoming a quality offering. He could make his full season debut in 2009 at Burlington.
Photo Credits: John Lamb photo courtesy of eteamz.com. All other photos taken by Dave Sanford, Scout.com