Here we are three weeks before the draft. The talent is beginning to come into focus. We still haven't heard anything from the Royals camp about who they are interested in. I don't expect them to drop names but they normally telegraph whether they are looking pitching or hitting.
What kind of player can the Royals expect drafting 12th overall? Below is a list of the players drafted in slots #12-16 to give us an idea of what kind of talent is available.
What players do you find in these slots:
The Masher: this slot has been a good place to find bats: Utley, Butler, Drew, Bruce, Snider, Dominguez, Heyward, Wallace, Lawrie all look to be somewhere between good and great bats. The problem is that this draft is exceptionally weak when it comes to bats.
The Slider: it is around this slot that occasionally a guy slides to that was expected to be a top 5 pick. Jason Heyward slid to the Braves and is one of the best prospects in baseball. Last year, many of us wanted Justin Smoak and he slid to #11 and is tearing up AA. Lastings Milledge was expected to go higher in 2003. The Marlins thought they had a steal in 2003 with Jeff Allison-until drug addiction ruined his career.
The Riser: We also see players who fly up draft boards at the end: Brett Lawrie last year. Devin Mesoraco the year before. Tyler Colvin to the Cubs in 2006 and perhaps Butler fits the category for us back in 04. Butler and Lawrie look like good picks but Mesoraco and Colvin have not done well.
One last thing: not many of the pitchers have distinguished themselves. Chris Volstad looks like he will be pretty good and David Purcey still has some potential. Ethan Martin and Jeremy Jeffress are still good to decent prospects. Perhaps the most successful pitchers so far are a couple of Angels: Jered Weaver and Joe Saunders.
Almost every year, there is a very good player/prospect drafted between #12-16. After Strasburg and Ackley and a handful of college pichers-I wouldn't be shocked to see any other player available. Grant Green could be that player that drops...but we'll see (and there are still some question marks with him).
My draft board at this point:
- Stephen Strasburg
- Dustin Ackley
- Tyler Matzek
- Kyle Gibson
- Aaron Crow
- Alex White
- Grant Green
- Mike Leake
- Shelby Miller
- Matt Purke
- Donovan Tate
- Tanner Scheppers
- Zack Wheeler
- Jacob Turner
I feel fairly confident that our draft pick is somewhere on the list above. The biggest mover is Grant Green dropping. He's had a good but not great junior season and there have been questions about his defense. All that together with his ‘advisor' (Boras) could cause him to drop. SS is definitely a place where the Royals could use some prospects. If he's available (still a bit of a longshot) and the Royals believe he can stat at SS, he would help at a position of need in the Royals system-he's hit well with wood bats (Cape Cod Summer League).
I know many like Mike Leake (I do too) but he is pitching so well he may not be available when we pick. If you want the Royals to draft him, you might be rooting for him to have some bad outings in the next 3 weeks.
I continue to like the HS pitching in this draft. I've seen Matzek, Miller, Purke, Wheeler, and Turner ranked all over the place-some folks have Matzek first, some have Turner-and just about everything in between. I don't think Matzek falls to us, so I would pick between Miller and Purke.
And there are still the wildcards of Crow/Scheppers. I remember reading that Crow is a big Royals fan and would love to play for us-for whatever that is worth. Mechanics gurus are worried about Crows delivery. Also there are some questions if he will end up in the bullpen-but I think he might be flying a little under the radar. But I trust whoever Dayton Moore and crew wants when it comes to pitching.
I'm torn between Miller and Purke. Purke is left handed-which is a plus. He's got big upside, has the "fiery/competitive" label that the Royals love. But there are questions about his delivery and he throws a slider and the Royals prefer pitchers with a curve (Miller throws a curve). Since I think I predicted Miller a month ago, I'll say Matt Purke. His upside is a little bit higher than Millers but the risk is also a little bit higher.
PS--it is looking like the Grudz will not sign before the draft, so no draft pick compensation for him. That's not good but it hurts less because the Royals can play the system and they will either take some players who drop because of signability or invest in the international market.