BEWARE the Royals

"one of the most dangerous 3-4 combinations in the game by the second half of the decade"

"not just the best minor-league system in baseball, it's the best by a wide margin"

"I had [trouble] figuring out any way for things to go wrong"

This all from Kevin Goldstein's write-up of the Royals farm system at Baseball Prospectus (pay article)

No surprise to those of you who follow prospects closely, but to get a better sense of the storm brewing, I did brief summaries of Goldstein's write-ups on the Royals 4- and 5-star players organized by MLB ETA.  I think the general idea is that 4-star players will likely be average to above average, while 5-star players (highest rating) will likely be above average or stars.

As a Twins fan, you still focus on winning in the next few years, but at the same time, you need to be setting this franchise up to battle a Royals team in the second half of the decade that profiles like the post-2007 Rays.  They have a veritable conga line of excellent lefty starters who will no doubt salivate at the prospect of striking out an aging Mauer or Morneau.  Billy Butler, only 24 himself and already a very good hitter, may soon be the third- or fourth-best bat in a loaded lineup, after being mercifully shifted to DH.

Here's the cream of the crop:

ETA mid-to-late 2011

*****Moustakas.  The star third baseman.  Fastest bat-speed in the minors.  Most MiLB homers in 2010.  Plus-plus arm.  One of the best prospects in baseball.

*****Lamb.  The best left-handed starting pitcher prospect in the minors.  Three potential plus pitches.  One of the best prospects in baseball.

*****Montgomery.  Another elite-level left handed starter.  Six foot five, touches 96, late life.  Killer curve.  One of the best prospects in baseball.

ETA 2012

*****Hosmer.  The star first baseman.  A fearsome 3-spot hitter for average and power.  Plus arm could allow him to play left.  One of the best prospects in baseball.

*****Myers.  The star corner outfielder.  Another potential monster hitter with power and excellent on-base skills.  He's a catcher now, but probably won't be by the time he hits the majors.  One of the best prospects in baseball.

****Dwyer.  The number three starter.  Another excellent lefty with a plus fastball and curve.  Occasional all-star maybe.

****Duffy.  See Dwyer.  Yet another good lefty starter, projecting as a mid-rotation type. 

****Colon.  A good SS or average 2nd baseman.  On the slow side for his position, but great instincts.  Good average and power for a middle infielder.

So that's three of four infielders, a corner outfielder, two lefty aces, and two lefty mid-rotation types.  All likely good to great.  All coming soon, to a theater near you, at bargain-basement prices.  That doesn't even include their three-star players who also profile as useful major leaguers.

Even a fairly incompetent front office could fill in the gaps between these guys well enough to be good.  Heck, their own farm system may have the requisite filler pieces, leaving even a KC budget with enough cash to grab a nice free agent or two.  If they have half a brain they'll trade Greinke (and maybe Soria too) for another big piece of the puzzle or three.  Maybe the prospects take a year or two to establish themselves, but you're looking at a fierce team in KC at least in 2014 or 2015 and even nastier as these players move into their primes.

Remember this as we consider trading off the Twins's young talent to win now.  I've seen the future, and it's Royal blue. 

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