Six years ago, the Royals had the best farm system in baseball. The biggest names were Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Wil Myers, all of whom would contribute mightily -- Myers via trade -- to an American League pennant in 2014 and a World Series title in 2015. So too would a deep crop of then lesser-known talents that included Danny Duffy, Jarrod Dyson, Kelvin Herrera, Greg Holland, Salvador Perez and Yordano Ventura.
That championship will resonate forever in Kansas City, but the team slipped to 81-81 last year and the current system lacks the reinforcements that will be needed after a likely free-agent exodus following the 2017 season. The Royals traded their best young arms (Brandon Finnegan, Sean Manaea, Cody Reed) to add Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist for the stretch drive in 2015, and they haven't drafted as well since they began picking lower in the first round and were hamstrung by bonus limitations.
• Royals Top 30 Prospects list
||BAL, BOS, NYY, TB, TOR
||ATL, MIA, NYM, PHI, WSH
||CLE, CWS, DET, KC, MIN
||CHC, CIN, MIL, PIT, STL
||HOU, LAA, OAK, SEA, TEX
||ARI, COL, LAD, SD, SF
Kansas City's two best prospects, left-hander Matt Strahm and third baseman/outfielder Hunter Dozier, contributed at the end of last season and are ready for expanded roles in 2017. But the organization doesn't have a single player on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list and no obvious middle-of-the-order hitter or frontline starter on the way. The quickest way to infuse some talent into the system might be for the Royals to trade off veterans this summer if they fall out of contention.
Here are the players whose ranks changed the most from the 2016 preseason list to the 2017 preseason list.
Jump: Erik Skoglund, LHP (2016: 28 | 2017: 4)
Fall: Ashe Russell, RHP (2016: 3 | 2017: 27)
Bubba Starling, OF (2016: 7 | 2017: NR)
Players are graded on a 20-80 scouting scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average.
Hit: Donnie Dewees (55)
Power: Ryan O'Hearn (55)
Run: Donnie Dewees (65)
Arm: Seuly Matias (70)
Defense: Cam Gallagher (60)
Fastball: Josh Staumont (70)
Curveball: Matt Strahm (60)
Slider: Andrew Edwards (55)
Changeup: A.J. Puckett (60)
Control: Eric Skoglund (55)
How they were built
Breakdown by ETA
Breakdown by position
Here's a look at the Royals' preseason Top 10 prospects from each of the past seven years (click here to see a larger image):
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.