At this point in the MLB offseason, with the league in the early stages of a lockout, talking points are limited. There are no trades taking place, the free agency market is completely frozen and teams aren't in contact with players to see how their offseasons are going. Players that oftentimes get neglected during the season and make perfect sense to cover now, though, are prospects.
With that in mind, Baseball America recently published their list ranking the top 10 prospects in the Kansas City Royals' farm system (subscription required). BA has already shown the Royals organization plenty of love as of late, with top prospect Bobby Witt Jr. being named their Minor League Player of the Year and others making their MiLB All-Star Team. The Royals are recognized for having one of the best farm systems in all of baseball, and their rankings are no different.
Accompanying the top 10 prospect rankings is a projected Royals 2025 lineup. That's looking quite a ways into the future, which does bring about some difficulties. A ton of projection is involved in regards to prospects and there isn't a good way to address possible free agent acquisitions in scenarios like that. It's an imperfect science but nonetheless, it's fun to look at others' projections for the future and see how they stack up.
The quartet of MJ Melendez (catcher), Nick Pratto (first base), Nicky Lopez (shortstop) and Bobby Witt Jr. (third base) makes up the majority of the infield. This is expected, as the prospect trio was among the best in all of minor league baseball in 2021 and Lopez was the team's ultimate redemption story. It wouldn't be a surprise to see all four players manning the infield for the Royals four seasons from now.
Nick Loftin is penciled in at second base for this iteration of the Royals, and that makes decent sense. Whit Merrifield's contract is up following the 2022 season (pending a club option for 2023) and he'll be 36 years old heading into the 2025 campaign. Loftin often gets compared to Merrifield due to his ability to play various positions on defense. The offensive comparison is flawed, but he should be able to hold down second base in the future if needed.
In the outfield, nothing changes for the Royals. Not only is Andrew Benintendi under contract via extension in this scenario, but Michael A. Taylor also receives some additional years tacked on to his deal as he enters his mid-30s. In right field, Kyle Isbel sticks and ends up as an everyday player for the Royals. Salvador Perez's day as a catcher are presumably over here, as he's slotted in as the team's full-time designated hitter at age 35.
As far as pitchers go, BA projects the Royals' rotation to consist of Daniel Lynch, Asa Lacy, Brady Singer, Kris Bubic, and Jackson Kowar. Carlos Hernandez is the club's closer. It would be impressive if the Royals were able to develop all of the aforementioned names into reliable and consistent contributors, although that also means that none of their non-Lacy prospects were able to crack the rotation by 2025.
BA's 2025 Royals lineup almost surely won't be identical to the one we see in actuality, but it's still intriguing. The Royals don't have many holes that need to be filled by external additions. Many of their long-term contributors are either currently on the roster or will be added soon as they advance through the minor leagues. That's a good thing for the club and a sign of a quality farm system. With a few well-executed trades or signings along the way, they could boast a potent starting lineup at the MLB level in due time.