Revisiting the Top 60: 16-20

With the minor league season completed, RC is busy putting together this year's Top 60 prospect list, which should be released in mid-December. First, however, it is useful to take a look back at last year's Top 60 prospects. Who took a step forward? Who took a step back? Who should have been ranked higher? Today we take a look at prospects 16-20 on last year's list,

20. Jose Bonilla, C

2009 Club: Burlington Bees

AB: 351
BA: .217
OBP: .281
SLG: .311
HR: 5
2B: 12
3B: 3
BB: 29
SO: 92
SB: 6
CS: 4

Bonilla leapt from the Arizona League to the Midwest League in 2009, and his inexperience showed at the plate. Serving as the Bees' primary catcher, the 21-year-old backstop hit just .217/.281/.311 during his first year in full season ball after posting a 1.030 OPS with the Arizona Royals in 2008. After a tough April, Bonilla showed some progress in both May and June, but he hit under .200 during the last two months of the season.

Reflection on 2008 Ranking
Although we expected some adjustment time for Bonilla, there's no question that his offensive performance at Burlington was a disappointment. Still, it is encouraging that the Royals felt good enough about what Bonilla was doing to leave him in the league despite his struggles. He's a strong kid with some definite upside and a cannon for an arm, but he'll fall a bit on this year's Top 60 as some of the other catchers in the organization have passed him on the depth chart.

19. Ed Cegarra, RHP

2009 Club: Did not play - injured

Cegarra suffered an injury in spring training and missed the entire 2009 season. He was on the fast track prior to his injury, so the good news is that even though Cegarra lost a year of development, he's still just 20-years old.

18. Tyler Sample, RHP

2009 Club: Burlington Royals, Arizona Royals

Stats (combined)
G: 14
IP: 54.2
ERA: 3.13
W: 4
L: 3
SV: 1
SO: 49
BB: 22
H: 41
HR: 2
AVG: .203

Sample, the Royals' 2008 third rounder, erased the bad taste in his mouth from a lackluster pro debut with an excellent season for the Burlington Royals. The 6-foot-7 right-hander arrived in Burlington after two starts in Arizona and became the B-Royals' most reliable starter. Sample went 4-2 with a stellar 2.84 ERA in 12 appearances for Burlington, and the Appy League hit just .184 against him.

Reflection on 2008 Ranking
The Royals had their share of disappointments with some of their higher profile pitching prospects in 2009, but Sample certainly wasn't one of them. Though he still has a lot of work to do with his fastball command, Sample has an excellent slurvy breaking ball with late movement and a changeup that shows a lot of promise. Add that to a huge big league frame, and it's clear why the Royals like him so much. He'll move closer to the top 10 on this year's list.

17. Chris Nicoll, RHP

2009 Club: NW Arkansas Naturals, Omaha Royals

Stats (combined)
G: 39
IP: 88.2
ERA: 4.47
W: 9
L: 2
SV: 1
SO: 76
BB: 35
H: 90
HR: 8
AVG: .260

Nicoll's 2009 campaign wasn't as good as his breakthrough 2008 season, but he again showed flashes of developing into a promising big league prospect. He began the season back in the bullpen with the Naturals, where he posted a 3.50 ERA with 58 strikeouts and 26 walks in 61.2 innings pitched. He earned a promotion to Omaha in August, and he made one relief appearance before being inserted into the O-Royals' rotation for five starts. He struggled a bit in his return to starting duty, and he finished his stint in Omaha with a 6.67 ERA.

Reflection on 2008 Ranking
It will be interesting to see if Nicoll's return to the rotation is a permanent move. Prior to coming down with the yips in 2007, the young right-hander was one of the Royals' best starting pitching prospects. Nicoll has always profiled better as a starting pitcher, and although he'll fall a bit on this year's list, he remains as an interesting guy to watch.

16. Julio Pimentel, RHP

2009 Club: Did not play - injured

Pimentel suffered an elbow injury in spring training and missed the entire season. The Royals released him during this offseason, so he will have to continue his rehab in another organization.

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