Happy New Year everyone. It's never too early to start thinking about the next years upcoming draft. We're roughly five months away from the day of all days for scouts and prospect fans; the 2014 Rule 4 Draft.
This year the Royals will have an unusually low pick (or high if you wanna take things literally). Right now they are set to pick at #18. This would be their farthest from the #1 pick (there, take that literally) they've had since they took Juan "Rhymes With" LeBron 19th overall in 1995. That's 20 years of top 15 picks... so there's that.
Let's take a look at some potential players who could fall to the Royals at #18, but first some caveats.
1. This is being created before the 2014 college/HS season has even began. Most of the guys projected to go in the first round will stay there, but their ranking is very very fluid this early on. See guys like Chris Hernandez, Jan Hernandez, Karsten Whitson, and Austin Wilson who projected very high around this time last year, but their respected landscapes changed come June. Also there will be risers like Jon gray, Trey Ball, DJ Peterson, Phillip Ervin who will shoot up the charts due to attrition of guys above them and strong spring ball.
2. The Royals CURRENTLY have the #18 overall pick, but if they do something stupid like signing Kendry Morales then that goes out the window. On the other hand, if any of the teams before them sign a comp attached free agent then they would obviously move up a slot (or slots).
Sean Newcomb - LHP Hartford
Big southpaw with good secondary pitches and mid-90's heat. Broke out in the Cape Cod League. Many sources give him Jon Lester comps.
Max Pentecost - C Kennessaw State
MVP of the Cape League, small sized catcher who scouts are surprised a bit by his power right now. Great offensive potential but questions about ability to stay behind the plate. Likely will rise higher with a strong college season. Catcher class this year is weak, but he's not just a "best of the worst" guy and "athletic" has been thrown around a lot with him.
Grant Holmes - RHP Conway HS
Many have said this big framed righty has maxed out physically so he's more of a current and future #3 rather than a #3 with high upside, but at #18 overall that would be a great grab. Has a scholarship to elite college Florida so he could potentially be a very tough sign.
Brad Zimmer - OF University of San Francisco
Zimmer...Zimmer...Zimmer... how does this name sound familiar? Oh yeah, his brother Kyle is the Royals #1 overall prospect. Unlike his brother, Brad (Mr and Mrs Zimmer didn't exactly go crazy on naming their kids) is position player and a dang good one. He's got plus speed and arm strength with good power. Unlike a lot of college bats, Brad has some projection as well as present tools. The speed plays well at center but the arm could make him very viable in RF too.
Luis Ortiz - RHP Sanger HS
The Under Armor All-American and MVP of the 18U World Cup, Ortiz has 6-3 body with good physical projection. He has been cited a lot as having an "easy" delivery with a 3/4 arm slot. Ortiz has low 90's speed on the fastball and mid-80's on his next best pitch in his slider. Has a commitment to Fresno State.
Brandon Finnegan - LHP TCU
Power lefty with mid to high 90's fastball. His pure stuff isn't in question, but his command issues can wobble. Couple that with his smaller frame and awkward arm action and he's not quite the mold of a Andrew Heaney or Mike Minor, but more of a Drew Pomeranz and Danny Hultzen in the body of Scott Kazmir.
Tyler Beede - RHP Vanderbilt
Beede is all over the board. He's easily Top 5 talent, but due to his command problems he could fall to possibly Top 20. Scouts say he's picked up a few MPH on his pitches but that has sacrificed him a grade on his overall control. He was drafted by Toronto in the first round out of high school but medical issues prevented him from signing. He has likely three plus offerings.
Erick Fedde - RHP UNLV
Fedde, like Beede, is another guy with a high liquidity on the draft board. Projectable frame who was good in the Cape, but some say his starts were hit and miss. He also had multiple plus offerings, but some question his ability to miss bats. The command is good, but some see him as a mid-rotation guy while others say bullpen.
Nick Gordon - SS Olympia HS
When you hear the name Gordon in baseball, don't you automatically think of Flash? (I guess Alex is a possibility too) Well, if you read Nick Gordon, saw the picture, and then said "geeze he could be related to Flash/Dee Gordon" then you'd be correct. The youngest of the Gordon brothers, the left handed SS is a two way player but most see him staying at short due to his excellent defensive skills and speed. Like his brother Dee, Nick isn't going to hit for power, but his defense is stellar due to a plus arm and great range. Has a commitment to Florida State.
Michael Cederoth - RHP San Diego State
While he's not quite Stephen Strasburg, Cederoth still features great velocity like him. He's been said to be the hardest thrower in all of college ball. That's sadly a double edged sword for him because he generates that speed with his awkward mechanics. The fastball is there but the offspeed and secondary offerings are lacking to say the least. Command isn't necessarily his issue, but just the pure stuff on his secondary pitches. If he refines things then he could become Chris Sale, but if things stay the same then he's likely a bullpen piece.
Luke Weaver - RHP Florida State
The body gets Tim Hudson comps and the command/stuff is there. He's got mid-90's speed with projection still left in his body. Power pitchers with good command aren't growing on trees and if he were a left he'd be much higher on the board. A good spring could really see a rise in his value