The Royals will not only begin the 2015 season as defending American League champions. They'll also have a very good farm system that should pay dividends for years to come.
Kansas City had five players on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects list, which was revealed Friday night on MLB Network, with shortstop Raul Adalberto Mondesi leading the quintet by being ranked at No. 40.
The five representatives are tied for the third-most by any organization and are rounded out by left-hander Sean Manaea at No. 56, righty Kyle Zimmer at No. 58, lefty Brandon Finnegan at No. 75 and righty Miguel Almonte at No. 84.
The annual ranking of baseball's Top 100 Prospects is assembled by MLBPipeline.com Draft and prospect experts Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis, who compile input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, proximity to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. The list, which is one of several prospect rankings on MLBPipeline.com's Prospect Watch, only includes players with rookie status in 2015. Team-by-team Top 30 Prospects lists for 2015 will be unveiled in March.
Mondesi, who is the son of 1995 All-Star Raul Mondesi, was 43rd on this list last year and moved up three spots despite producing a .211/.256/.354 slash line at Class A Advanced Wilmington in 2014. The reason? He's very advanced for a 19-year-old and has a strong arm and power potential as he matures. Mondesi can run, too, as his 12 triples and 17 stolen bases proved.
Manaea, the 34th overall pick of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, was ranked 74th on this list last year. He compiled a 3.11 ERA and 146 strikeouts in 121 2/3 innings for Wilmington in his first professional season following hip surgery. The 6-foot-5 southpaw has a heavy fastball and good, hard slider, and figures to move quickly in the farm system if he stays healthy.
Zimmer, the fifth overall pick in the 2012 Draft, was ranked No. 52 on this list last year, and dropped primarily because tendinitis and a lat injury effectively washed out his 2014 season. When healthy, Zimmer has a serious fastball that has hit triple digits and a 12-to-6 curveball.
Finnegan wasn't on this list last year because he was drafted (17th overall) in June out of TCU. The 21-year-old turned more heads by advancing to -- and at times excelling on -- the big league and postseason roster. The Royals used him in relief during their stirring October run but plan to get him back to starting in the Minors this year.
Almonte snuck onto this list at No. 94 last year and continues to creep up after a solid age-21 2014 season at Wilmington, where he struck out 101 batters in 110 innings and put up a 4.50 ERA. Almonte is still all about potential, though, with a mid-90s fastball and a well-above-average changeup.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.