It may sound odd, but Royals fans were optimistic about the future in the spring of 2011, despite watching their favorite team lose 87 or more games in seven straight seasons.
That’s because the Royals had a group of prospects so large that talent evaluators called it unprecedented.
They had nine players on Baseball America’s annual Top 100 list and were the first team in the history of the rankings to have five players listed among the top 20. Using a scale of 100 points for the No. 1 prospect down to 1 point for No. 100, the Royals collected a record 574 points.
One sunny morning in Surprise, Ariz., those nine players stood together for The Star’s John Sleezer and an iconic picture developed.
But what happened to those nine players? Here is what they are doing today. The players are listed as they appear in the picture from left to right.
LHP John Lamb
Drafted in the fifth round of the 2008 draft, Lamb was No. 18 on Baseball America’s list that spring. He never appeared in a game with the Royals and was traded to the Reds in the summer of 2015 as part of a deal for Johnny Cueto. Lamb, who has dealt with a number of injuries, made his big-league debut with Cincinnati in 2015. He was invited to the Angels camp this spring.
LHP Chris Dwyer
Dwyer, who was No. 83 in the rankings, pitched three shutout innings over two appearances in 2013. He elected free agency after the 2015 season and is in the Orioles organization.
OF Wil Myers
Although he never had a chance to help the Royals win, Myers in a way played a key role in their World Series appearances in 2014-15. Myers, who was No. 10 on the rankings, was the centerpiece of a trade with the Rays that sent pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis to the Royals. Both helped the Royals to the 2014 American League championship and Davis got a strikeout to end the 2015 World Series. Myers was traded to the Padres and was an All-Star at first base.
RHP Jake Odorizzi
Odorizzi also was part of the trade with the Rays, and he won 40 games with a 3.83 ERA over six seasons with Tampa Bay. During this offseason, Odorizzi was traded to the Twins and is expected to be a key member of their rotation. He was No. 69 on Baseball America’s rankings that spring.
LHP Mike Montgomery
Checking in at No. 19 on the list, Montgomery also was dealt to Tampa Bay, which later traded him to Seattle. Montgomery was sent to the Cubs in July 2016 and was on the mound for the final out of World Series that fall when Chicago won its first title in 108 years. Last season, Montgomery was 7-8 with a 3.38 ERA.
SS Christian Colon
While he never became an everyday player, Colon had two of big postseason moments. In the 2014 AL Wild Card Game, he hit a chopper in front of the plate for a single that scored the tying run in the 12th inning, then he came around to score the winning run. In the clinching Game 5 of the World Series, Colon’s RBI single broke a tie in the 12th inning and the Royals won 7-2. Colon, who was No. 51 in the ranking, was designated for assignment last year and claimed by Miami. He is now with the Braves.
LHP Danny Duffy
Now the ace of the Royals' starting rotation. He signed a five-year, $65 million contract last year, and worked out of the bullpen in the 2014 and 2015 postseasons. Baseball America had Duffy ranked 68th in 2011.
3B Mike Moustakas
After hitting 38 home runs a year ago and setting the Royals’ single-season record, Moustakas is back with the team. He signed a one-year, $5.5 million contract with a 2019 mutual option. Moustakas, who was No. 9 on the list, is a two-time All-Star and was a key contributor to the 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.
1B Eric Hosmer
Hosmer was the highest-rated player on that Baseball America list at No. 8. He was a World Series champion, an All-Star Game MVP and a part of the World Baseball Classic championship team. Hosmer signed an eight-year, $144 million contract with the Padres last month.