2006 Royals Draft Review
The 2005 Royals lost 106 games and earned for the first time in franchise history the #1 overall pick the draft. The 2006 draft was the Orphan Draft. Allard Baird was fired in May and Dayton Moore was set to take over but since Moore had been helping his previous employer (the Braves) prepare for the draft it was announced that Moore would not be involved in the 2006 draft. I figured there was a wink involved there somewhere. Sure, Dayton Moore would keep his hands off the single most important event to a rebuilding franchise (and that franchise had the #1 overall pick). In retrospect, I think it was completely true-Dayton Moore left Deric Ladnier to do his thing and we ended up with a mediocre draft. And that may be the biggest reason why Ladnier is gone.
1st Round (1st Overall)
2006 was a year without a consensus #1 overall prospect. Andrew Miller was ranked #1 most of the year and he would end up falling to Detroit because of bonus demands. Evan Longoria put up good but not great numbers at Long Beach State-although in retrospect his home park kept those offensive numbers down. Brad Lincoln had put up great numbers at U. of Houston but that was against so-so competition. Luke Hochevar had been a Dodger supplemental 1st round pick out of Tennessee in 2007. He would have gone higher but bonus demands scared teams off. He was a Boras client who briefly changed agents and (depending on who you believe) agreed to a contract with the Dodgers under the guidance of the new agent. Hochevar backed out of the deal went back to Boras and ended up re-entering the 2006 draft after pitching it he independent league. He put up great numbers for Fort Worth-but in only 22ip (34k's). The night before the draft, Baseball America reported that we had agreed to a pre-draft deal with Brad Lincoln, but by morning that was either off or never happened and we ended up taking Hochevar.
Hochevar eventually signed in time to pitch 15 innings in Burlington. He put up mediocre numbers at Wichita and Omaha in 2007 (although there were reports the KC brass had him working on certain pitches and not allowing him to throw others). He got a cup of coffee with the big club. Last year, he pitched well, briefly in AAA before coming up and pitching OK. His ERA is 5.51 but his FIP ERA wasn't bad 4.43. He hurt his rib cage in August and was shut down.
He has started ‘09 in Omaha because the Royals hope to delay his free agency clock. I hope he becomes the type of pitcher that you worry about their free agency clock. Hochevar looks like he will be a solid starting pitcher. Put him in front a good defense and he might even look like a pretty good starting pitcher, but you aren't looking for pretty good players when you draft 1-1.
At the time of the 2006 draft, I was torn between Andrew Miller and Evan Longoria. I decided we should go for Miller. He's been wildly inconsistent and I wouldn't trade Hochevar for him at this point. Of course, Longoria is a different story. Tim Lincecum went 10th in that draft and there were a very few people that thought he should go at the top. (Although I did advocate for drafting Lincecum-in 2005 when he was a draft eligible sophomore. Rumor was he wanted $1 million to sign after an up and down year. I thought it would be a great gamble to take. He was eventually drafted by Cleveland in round 42 but they didn't sign him-good thing-I'm glad he's not on a division rival. Just to torture yourself a little bit: we could have had Lincecum and Longoria.).
Here's how I would rank Hochevar against the 9 guys taken after him:
- Evan Longoria-Rays--#3 overall
- Tim Lincecum-Giants--#10
- Clayton Kershaw-Dodgers--#7
- Brandon Morrow-Mariners--#5
- Luke Hochevar-Royals--#1
- Andrew Miller-Tigers--#6
- Drew Stubbs-Reds--#8
- Brad Lincoln-Pirates--#4
- Greg Reynolds-Rockies--#2
- Bill Rowell-Orioles--#9
The Royals took Jason Taylor-a HS 3rd baseman in round 2. Taylor went to Arizona where he didn't hit real well but showed good patience at the plate. He was suspended for the 2007 season-the scuttlebutt was that it was due to marijuana use. In 2008, he had a good year at Burlington. His OPS was 790 with 81 walks and 40 steals. He was unlucky on the balls he put in play-so his numbers could have been better than that. He was on fire the 2nd half of last year (as was the rest of the Burlington team). His prospect stock was on the rise until he got suspended for failing a drug test (non-performance enhancing division) this spring. Unofficially, he was also the guy that Moose pinned against the wall/threatened with worse during last season. So Taylor is talented but is immature/undisciplined. We'll see how he does after he gets back from the suspension, but I'm guessing he is on a short leash with this organization.
Other players taken in Round 2: Chris Tillman, Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Justin Masterson,
Blake Wood was another player that was a seeming reach in the 3rd round. But Wood had been injured at Georgia Tech and the Royals had seen something they liked. He got 50 innings at Idaho Falls and pitched pretty well. He missed the first half of 2007 with back surgery but pitched pretty well at Surprise, Burlington and Wilmington. Last year, he dominated at Wilmington for 57 innings before going to NW Arkansas where he was inconsistent (but better than his ERA showed. He's gotten off to a pretty good start at AA this year. He's got 3 pitches that are pretty good but if he can just get more consistent, he could be an above average starter. He has a chance to be the best pick in this draft for the Royals.
Other players taken in Round 3: Chris Valaika
Derrick Robinson was rated a borderline 1st round talent by Baseball America. But he had a football scholarship to Florida in his pocket. The Royals signed him for $850,000. Robinson is fast. Really, really fast. We've been told for almost 3 years however that he isn't just fast, that he had some hidden, unpolished hitting ability. His OPS in 2007 at Burlington: 599. 2008 at Wilmington: 638. This year, he's hovering around 600 repeating Wilmington. He's great defensively and could steal a lot of bases with a great success rate. The odds are very good he will get to the big leagues-whether he will be an asset or not depends on if he can get on base/hit with power in the future. He's still just 21. This is the make or break year repeating a level.
Other players taken in Round 4: (man the 3rd and 4th rounds were pretty barren)
The Royals took Old Dominion pitcher Jason Godin in round 5. Do you really want me to regurgitate his mediocre numbers? Go look at them yourself-he's not been very good and probably won't contribute at even AAA.
Other players drafted in Round 5: Chris Davis, Jeff Samardzija
Harold Mozingo was one of my guys. I really liked the guy coming out of Virginia Commonwealth. He had 3 solid pitches. He struggled at Idaho Falls in 2006. He was OK in 2007 at Burlington. But he didn't pitch last year, I think he was injured but I can't remember what the injury was and haven't heard anything about his this spring.
Others taken in Round 6: nobody.
Other picks of note:
10th Round pick Nick Van Stratten and 13th Round pick Kurt Mertins and quasi-prospects who put up decent numbers but are pretty old for the leagues they've been playing in.
In the 19th and 20th rounds, the Royals took Jeff Inman and Brad Boxberger-two HS California pitchers. They both dropped because of signability and will be drafted this year. Inman has struggled at Stanford, while Boxberger could be a 2nd round pick and perhaps sneak into the late 1st round.
We walk away from this draft with 4 players that could possibly help the big league club some day: Hochevar, Taylor, Wood and Robinson. None of them look to be stars. I'll give this draft a C-. It can get depressing when looking at what we could have had. But what we do have is a pitcher who this year can help us win games-and in a mediocre division, we need all the help we can get. I'm looking forward to seeing what Hochevar can do. I like Wood quite a bit. Robinson and Taylor are enigmas for different reasons. Let's hope we don't have a chance to redeem our ability to pick 1-1 anytime in the near future.