The draft is in a few days and there are a lot of different ways the Royals could go in the first round. A year ago at this time, I'm pretty sure we had already heard Wil Myers strongly linked to the Royals. Greg Schaum said then the Royals were focused on Mike Leake in the 1st Round--how great would it have been if that had happened? This year things are pretty quiet about who the Royals are interested in. I'll try to break this down to three scenarios that could play out for the Royals on Monday.
1. Somebody Slips
There are three players clearly at the top of this draft--and we pick fourth. Bryce Harper will be gone. And it is likely Manny Machado and Jameson Taillion will also be taken. But there is a chance the Pirates decide to take Drew Pomeranz or the Orioles get sticker shock from Taillion's price tag. If you want Machado, you'd better hope that Drew Pomeranz pitches lights out this weekend in Super Regionals (the only problem with that is that it could result in the Royals taking Pomeranz--who I'm not crazy about). If either of those two players slip, I would hope the Royals would jump at the opportunity--but I"m not holding my breath that they will be available to the Royals.
2. Best of the Rest
Assuming the Big Three are gone, the Royals could then take somebody from the next tier: Drew Pomeranz or Chris Sale or Yasmani Grandal. I'm guessing
all (maybe not Grandal) those guys would sign for slot money. None of them have huge ceilings--except for perhaps Chris Sale who also has bigger risk (in that he may be confined to the bullpen and he has a funky delivery). Pomeranz is generally regarded as the #4 prospect and a few places have him as #3--I'm not nuts about him but there are enough people who really like him that I can't complain. Sale has had video game numbers playing against not so great competition. His fastball/change combo is very good with a slider that has improved this year and his control has become quite good. There are questions about his change-up and his delivery. But Sale is one of those guys that you might look back in a few years and go "why didn't we take that guy?" Grandal has incredible numbers playing for a top program at the toughest position on the diamond. His defense is supposed to be good. I have him at #4 on my board but it is sounding less likely that they Royals will go after Grandal (update: hearing that Grandal is asking for "Posey" money=$6.2 million. He won't get that but if he wants over slot, it may be why there hasn't been much news connecting him to the Royals recently).
3.Spread the Wealth
But suppose the Royals think that the difference between the #4 prospect and the #20 prospect isn't that great--and that taking the #20 player could save $1 million to spend later in the draft or in the international free agent market. Thus the Royals have been linked to Asher Wojciechowski from the Citadel. He's got a strong fastball/slider combo but would need a change-up to be an effective starter. This is similar to what the Pirates did last year--taking Tony Sanchez in the 1st round and then taking some signability questions later in the draft.
I suspect that scenario #2 will happen. If I had to guess, I'd say the Royals will take Chris Sale. The Pirates got a fair amount of attention for the draft approach last year--go cheap in the 1st and then spend money on signability picks--but the Royals have had their own draft approach the past couple of years--take the player you like best in the 1st and spend money on signability picks later in the draft. As I alluded to above, I approach the draft by asking "who is the player I would regret passing on?" And it looks like, of the players availible at the time we pick, Chris Sale is the one I hope/fear could become the guy that we would regret if we didn't take him. But I won't be too upset if its either Grandal, Pomeranz or Sale--all 3 are highly regarded
There are rumors (I think from Keith Law) that the Royals are looking at U. of Minnesota catcher Mike Kvasnicka for the second round--an good athlete who was switched to C just this season. He's taken well to it and his bat plays much better behind the plate. He's still moving up draft boards, so he might be gone by the Royals 2nd Round pick. I'm guessing and hoping that the Royals will continue to take a player(s) in later rounds who slide due to signability.
We'll see if any news leaks out this weekend or if we'll just have to wait and be surprised on Monday. The 2008 and 2009 drafts look pretty fruitful at this point. Hopefully the Royals will again be able to add multiple good prospects to their system.
Here are some draft links to read up on if you are interested: