Royals' prospects top the charts

Minor League Ball's dougdirt has taken all of John Sickels' preseason prospect grades and combined them into a beautiful chart. There are a few striking things about this chart, and they're almost all about the Royals.

John has always been stingy about handing out A grades, and this time around he's identified only seven Grade A hitting prospects. The Yankees, Angels, Phillies, and Nationals have one apiece ... and the Royals have three.

That's astounding.

And there's the money. Thanks to work done by various bright, young fellows, we can assign dollar values to prospects, and by this measure the Royals' top 28 prospects -- everyone given a C+ grade or better -- are worth a whopping $245 million. The Rays are No. 2 on the list, at $184 million. Twenty-one of the 30 teams don't have prospects worth half the Royals'.

The Royals' hitting prospects -- mostly in the person of those three Grade A guys -- are valued at $132.5 million. The Reds are No. 2 on that list, at $99 million. The Royals' pitching prospects -- no Grade A's, but five B+ guys -- are valued at $113 million, No. 2 on the list, just slightly behind the Rays ($120 million) and well ahead of almost everyone else.

As I've written before, the Royals have done brilliantly in recent years at both identifying talent and paying for it. Development seems to have gone well, too. At the very least, things should start to get pretty interesting in 2012, as the trickle of prospects becomes a flood. Will the pitchers avoid surgery, though? Will the front office mix in a smart free-agent signing and a couple of canny trades? The answer to all those questions must be yes if the Royals are really going to break through.