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Loftin leads Kansas City's next wave, All-Stars

Club's No. 5 prospect headlines the Royals' youth movement
November 15, 2023

Each offseason, goes position by position across each organization and honors the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in each farm system. Next up in our 2023 Organization All-Stars series are the Kansas City Royals. 2023 organization summary: Triple-A Omaha: 68-77

Each offseason, goes position by position across each organization and honors the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in each farm system. Next up in our 2023 Organization All-Stars series are the Kansas City Royals.

2023 organization summary:
Triple-A Omaha: 68-77
Double-A Northwest Arkansas: 64-74
High-A Quad Cities: 55-77
Single-A Columbia: 66-65
ACL Royals: 31-25
DSL Royals Blue: 29-25
DSL Royals Gold: 22-32
Overall record: 335-375 (24th among MLB organizations)
Midseason Farm System Rankings: 29

Royals 2023 Organization All-Stars

C: Logan Porter
AAA: .232/.339/.377, 110 G, 13 HR, 48 RBI, 52 R, 60 BB, 1 SB
It's been quite the journey for the 28-year-old undrafted free agent who signed with Kansas City in 2018. Making his second straight appearance as an MiLB Organization All-Star, Porter, who spent most of his career splitting time between first base and catcher, played the majority of this year behind the plate and parlayed his improvement at the position -- he posted a .992 fielding percentage over 82 games -- along with his steady bat into his Major League debut with the Royals on Sept. 12.

1B: Brett Squires
A: .263/.381/.430, 122 G, 15 HR, 69 RBI, 65 R, 66 BB, 32 SB
As Royals director of player development Mitch Maier put it, "Brett was rockin the middle of the lineup for Columbia all year." The undrafted free agent signed by the Royals last summer out of Oklahoma proved to be a diamond in the rough all season, providing a steady presence for the Fireflies' offense while flashing plus-power from the left side and an advanced strike zone awareness. Squires also proved to be one of the club's toolsy-est prospects -- committing just total two errors in 111 games between first base and left field, and stealing 32 bases on 40 attempts.

2B: Samad Taylor
AAA: .301/.418/.466, 89 G, 8 HR, 55 RBI, 65 R, 66 BB, 43 SB
The 25-year-old was injured at the time that he was acquired by Kansas City at least year's Trade Deadline from Toronto for Whit Merrifield, but Maier said they were confident all along in the player's skillset and Taylor immediately justified that belief in his first action at the Arizona Fall League in 2022. He kept it rolling this year in his first full season -- leading full-season qualifiers in the organization with his .301 average, .418 OBP and .884 OPS at Omaha. His 43 steals in 89 games placed second, and it was that speed that was most impactful during his stints in The Show.

3B: Nick Loftin (KC No. 5)
ROK/AAA: .280/.362/.458, 88 G, 15 HR, 61 RBI, 51 R, 40 BB, 7 SB
Despite missing all of June with a minor wrist injury, Loftin still batted .270/.344/.444 with 14 home runs and six steals in 82 games for Triple-A Omaha. The 25-year-old also played all over the infield -- except for catcher and shortstop -- and in left field throughout the year. Loftin made his Major League debut on Sept. 1 and finished the year on fire for the Royals: slashing .323/.368/.435 over 19 games. As Maier put it, "It's a lot easier to build out a lineup with Nick in it."

SS: Angelo Castellano
AAA: .281/.384/.489, 107 G, 15 HR, 55 RBI, 54 R, 53 BB, 12 SB
The veteran out of Venezuela turned back the clock as he put together his best season since 2016 when he played for Rookie-level Idaho Falls at the time. Signed by Kansas City as an international free agent in 2012, the 28-year-old spent his entire pro career in the Royals system. He elected free agency on Nov. 6.

OF: Javier Vaz (KC No. 13)
A+/AA: .279/.373/.400, 119 G, 8 HR, 51 RBI, 66 R, 64 BB, 30 SB
After displaying his defensive versatility at Vanderbilt, the 15th-round selection out of last year's Draft continued to showcase his ability to play all over the field -- lining up at four different positions during his first full season and working his way to Double-A. But it's Vaz's bat that probably has him on the fast track to The Show. The 23-year-old swung and missed at only 3.3 percent of his pitches seen -- the third-lowest rate among 710 Minor League full-season qualifiers.

OF: Tyler Gentry (KC No. 8)
AAA: .253/.370/.421, 129 G, 16 HR, 71 RBI, 69 R, 81 BB, 14 SB
Coming off of a stellar campaign in 2022, the 24-year-old struggled early this year. Although, Maier believes that it was more bad luck than anything else as Gentry's contact metrics told a different story than what his average was showing in June. Still, the Alabama product finished strong -- going 39-for-136 with 12 extra-base hits, 16 RBIs, 31 walks and nine stolen bases in August and September.

OF: Tyler Tolbert
AA: .276/.336/.419, 126 G, 10 HR, 50 RBI, 95 R, 40 BB, 50 SB
Another prospect in the system with defensive versatility and earning his place among Kansas City's late-round Draft gems, Tolbert set career highs this season in nearly every offense category as he played exclusively for Northwest Arkansas. The 2019 13th-round pick paced the Texas League in runs scored and triples (10), finished tied for second in hits (143), tied for third in swipes and finished fourth in total bases with 217.

RHP: Mason Barnett (KC No. 12)
A+/AA: 6-7, 3.30 ERA, 114 2/3 IP, 137 K, 50 BB, .208 BAA, 1.19 WHIP
The 2022 third-rounder led Royals Minor League qualifiers in ERA, strikeouts, batting average against and with a 28.8 percent K rate across 114 2/3 frames, playing his way to Double-A. What might be even more impressive is that the righty allowed only five homers over 23 starts. Maier believes that it speaks to quality of the arsenal that Barnett possesses -- sporting a fastball, slider, curveball and changeup -- as well as his ability to make adjustments in games and as the season wore on.

LHP: Anthony Veneziano (KC No. 16)
AA/AAA: 10-5, 3.55 ERA, 132 IP, 127 K, 48 BB, .245 BAA, 1.27 WHIP
The southpaw believed he took a step back in 2022, so he identified some things that he needed to work on during the offseason and came back this year determined to elevate his game to the next level. Veneziano returned to Northwest Arkansas to start the season and as Maier put it, "he beat that level." The 6-foot-5, 205-pounder continued his dominance at Omaha and earned his promotion to the bigs where he made two appearances out of the bullpen for Kanas City and did not yield an earned run.

RP: John McMillon (KC No. 24)
A/A+/AA: 7-3, 2.10 ERA, 51 1/3 IP, 91 K, 25 BB, .138 BAA, 0.95 WHIP
"Worked hard last offseason to shore up his mechanics and his repeatability to make sure he was in the strike zone, and his stuff plays -- it's big league quality," Maier said. And that proved true as the right-hander didn't just climb his way through three levels of the Minors, but also got his first taste of The Show with four appearances for Kansas City before his season was cut short with a strained right forearm -- making the leap from Double-A to the Majors.

Rob Terranova is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @RobTnova24.