Not too long after four of the Kansas City Royals' best prospects made MLB Pipeline's 2021 Prospect Team of the Year, another national team is knocking on the door for three of them. The trio of Bobby Witt Jr., Nick Pratto and MJ Melendez was recently named to Baseball America's 2021 Minor League All-Star team on Tuesday.
All three prospects currently rank among the four best in the Royals organization, with Witt taking the top spot as the team's 2019 first-round pick. Pratto ranks third (behind pitcher Asa Lacy) and Melendez takes claim to the No. 4 spot franchise-wide. All three players very well could — and probably should — make their MLB debuts at some point during the 2022 campaign.
Witt's .290/.361/.575 line between Double-A and Triple-A was a testament to his hard work, dedication and natural talent at the plate. His hit tool has been questioned by some in the past, but he put those concerns to rest by putting together an all-around great season. That production at the plate (which included 33 home runs) was accompanied by some terrific defense at shortstop. Witt projects to be a very good player in the future, at the very least. He has true superstar potential, which is something the Royals haven't had a ton of in recent years.
Pratto, after struggling immensely in 2019, bounced back to hit at a very impressive clip in 2021. His .265 batting average may not be great, but a .385 on-base percentage across two levels tells you all you need to know about the 23-year-old's ability to produce. He also clobbered 36 home runs on the season, too. While Pratto's strikeout numbers remain quite high, they're more manageable now than they were in the past. If he can continue to improve in that regard, along with playing quality defense at first base, the Royals have a great long-term answer at the position.
Last, but certainly not least, comes Melendez. The 22-year-old catcher led all of minor league baseball in home runs this season with 41 as he, too, rebounded from a terrible 2019 season. In 123 games with the Double-A Naturals and Triple-A Storm Chasers, Melendez's line of .288/.386/.625 led to a 1.011 OPS. His numbers this season were downright silly, and he's striking out far less often. While it remains to be seen exactly where Melendez will play once he's called up, he presents the Royals with a terrific problem to have: finding out where to place a supremely talented player in the field so his bat can shine.
No matter how you slice it, the Royals have one of the best farm systems in baseball. Not only is it chock-full of depth and potential trade pieces, but it also boasts some of the best young stars in the minors. Witt, Pratto and Melendez lead the way, and they're getting recognized for their terrific play in 2021. The Royals' bright future is arriving sooner than many think, and it's thanks to this trio.