Major League Baseball’s offseason is in full swing, and that means everyone is thinking about the future. In most cities, that means next season; in some, though, it means the bigger picture, the next three to five years. You’re either selling wins or you’re selling hope, the old saying goes. We here at CBS Sports like to provide as much hope as we can around this time of the winter by evaluating each team’s farm system.
Of course, that doesn’t mean every team has an equally good farm system — some, as you’ll find out throughout this process, are lacking in that respect. It does mean, nevertheless, that CBS Sports will be spending the next few weeks examining the top three prospects in each organization. We define “prospects” as retaining their rookie eligibility for the 2023 season, so if a young player is missing that’s likely why.
These lists and evaluations are formed following conversations with scouts, analysts, and player development types. There’s also firsthand evaluation and bias thrown into the mix. Keep in mind that player evaluation is a hard task, and it’s fine if you disagree with the rankings. These are opinions, and they have no real bearing on the future..
With that in mind, let’s get to it by dissecting the Kansas City Royals.
1. Gavin Cross, OF (2023 seasonal age: 22)
The Royals selected Cross with the ninth pick in last July’s draft, making him the first Virginia Tech player to go in the top 10 since Johnny Oates in 1967. Cross improved his stock over the spring by launching a personal-best 17 home runs and playing a better center field than expected. At face value, his professional introduction seemed to go swimmingly: he hit .293/.423/.596 in 123 plate appearances against A-ball competition. It is a little concerning, though, that he struck out in 25 percent of his trips to the plate against competition that he should have the leg up on. We’ll give him some more time to see if his contact woes persist. Until then, Cross still projects as a starting corner outfielder whose tools outlay consists of a lot of 50s and 55s.
2. Nick Loftin, CF/INF (2023 seasonal age: 24)
Loftin, the 32nd pick in the 2020 draft, should be in line to make his big-league debut sometime this season. The book on him has changed since draft night, though that’s primarily due to a positional change. Whereas he was a…