We're getting closer to this years Rule 4 draft. The Royals will have 4 picks in the Top 60. They haven't had this many picks this early since 2004 where they had picks 14, 29, 31, 55, and 63 thanks to Michael Tucker and Raul Ibanez compensation picks. Man... don't you miss the old free agent compensation system? This will certainly be a great chance for them to help build to a farm system that was ranked the 7th best in baseball this year.
It's been four months since the last list and things have changed a bit. Bradley Zimmer is looking more and more like a Top 10 pick than a Top 20 pick. Luis Ortiz is more of a second round pick than a first. Brandon Finnegan has improved his stock. Beede has solidified himself as a Top 10 pick. Cederoth has fallen out of the Top 50.
So as we inch (right now we're more like a mile away) closer to the draft, let's update that list with a few guys who could go in the Royals first three picks.
Guys who remain on the list
One of the top high school righthanders in the class, Holmes has continued to take strides and has added a third weapon to his repertoire this spring. Holmes showed consistent velocity on the showcase circuit, often sitting 92-94 mph and touching 96 at his best. His fastball also showed plus life with arm-side run and sink, mostly working to his arm side in game action. In early spring starts, Holmes sat 93-96 and touched 97 on some guns and 98 on others, according to scouts.
Newcomb brandishes easy mid-90s velocity now, after he was a very different pitcher as a three-sport athlete with a mid-80s heater at Middleborough (Mass.) High.
The Hartford lefthander surrendered his first earned run of the season against Maine, ending his stretch of 39 2/3 innings without an earned run to start the season by giving up four earned runs in 6 1/3 innings.
Jacob Gatewood SS/3B
Do you like seeing a guy flash plus-plus power? How about a guy who's won multiple home run derby's in MLB stadiums? Well then do I have a guy for you!
Jacob Gatewood is a grown man of a prospect. He's 6'5" and 200 pounds. As mentioned above the power is tremendous. He's got everything you want to see from a hitter power wise; bat speed, strength, and size. He's been mentioned as perhaps having the most power in the past few years of drafts.
What's the catch? Well like most power first guys... he's got problems with the hit tool. Some off-balanced swing mechanics and trouble with offspeed pitches are what hurts him, but he certainly has enough power to make a living off of that.
The other big question with him is his where he'll play. He's currently a SS. Some say that he could stay there, where the bat would be tremendous, but he'd be a below average defender. Others say his likely home is third base where his powerful arm (he's flashed 95 from the mound) would help play up his defense.
I don't know if Gatewood will be there come pick #17, but if he is he'd be a very interesting pick.
Michael Conforto OF
Wanna see some real life video game numbers?
No that's not your favorite player from The Show's stat line after you maxed out all his attributes to 99, that's Oregon State left fielder Michael Conforto's numbers and they are gaudy to say the least.
Good plate discipline, good power, good average... so how is this guy going as late as the mid-round? It's the non-hitting tools that hold him back. A poor arm, poor speed, and poor instincts that are the question mark. He's able bodied enough to play left field so he's not an automatic DH, but he's going to be an all bat prospect and will have to hit to have any major value.
Kyle Schwarber C/1B
Do you guys really need an explanation about this guy, or does the picture just say it all? What position do you think he plays? Do you think he has power? What do you think his biggest weakness(es) are?
If you guessed: catcher, yes, and hit tool/speed then you guessed right. Congrats.
Schwarber has 70 grade power no doubt and he strongly controls the plate with his great eye/discipline, but questions surround his ability to make contact and where he'll play as well. Many say he doesn't have the agility to remain at catcher so first base or DH is his likely position if he can't stick behind the dish.
Think of a DJ Peterson-lite when you see Schwarber.
Monte Harrison OF
The Lee Summit West outfielder Monte Harrison is an athlete in every sense of the word. He's got a commitment to Nebraska to play football and he'll obviously remind you of another local NU recruit that the Royals drafted: Bubba Starling.
Even if you don't like Bubba, don't let him scare you away from Harrison immediately. The right-hander has great speed, great instincts, and quick bat speed. The home run power isn't quite what Bubba offers, but Harrison still flashes excellent power even if the ball doesn't clear the wall. Harrison also carries a plus arm.
The main separator between Harrison and Starling is that while Harrison lacks Starling's pure power, Harrison makes up for it with his ability to make contact...sort of. He definitely has some swing and miss in his game so the ability to hit for a high average will never be there, but the current hit tool is certainly better than where Starling's was when he was being drafted.
Max Pentecost C
Pentecost remains on this list but moves from the first pick to the second. He's still an excellent prospect, but others have shot up above him. He's still very athletic for a catcher, retains his line drive swing and plus power, but the power hasn't shown so far in game despite the good hitters park he plays in. Hitting .330/.403/.491 on the year.
Pentecost will be a good defensive catcher, but the bat will likely only be average which isn't necessarily a bad thing for a catcher.
Spencer Adams RHP
No relation to Lane Adams (although the Royals would have 3 Adam/Adams), throws a plus slider and a big fastball that sit's mid-90's. The 6'3" right-hander still has some room to fill out but is very very athletic as he's also a standout basketball player. He also throws a changeup but it's some ways off right now.
Adams will probably be around come the 28th pick and if the Royals want an arm with projectability (Google Chrome doesn't think this is a word) and can throw strikes, he'll be a good selection. He's a Georgia commit so he likely won't come too cheap.
Michael Gettys CF
I say this with a 100% unstained track record of a heterosexual male... but Getty's has an awesome body and tools. He's 6'2" 195 pounds and is pure muscle. His size doesn't slow him down either as he is a tremendous runner. He's also got a rocket launcher attached to his right shoulder.
Seriously this guy has Mike Trout's (I know I know) build and speed for the most part (Trout is a little heavier) with a better arm.
What he doesn't have is Trout's hit tool or power, but then again who really does when you add in the speed/build.
Gettys has swing and miss in his game and the power is there. The quick wrists and bat speed will help that play up but the question marks are still there as to how the hit tool, or lack thereof, will play down the power/batting profile.
The defense is no question and has the speed, instincts, and arm to be an above average center-fielder.
He could be a .250 hitter easily, but the question will be if he hit's for 25-30 home runs or ten...
By the way Mike Trout was also taken in the 20's...
Nick Burdi RHP
Burdi is a tall right-hander who was taken by the Twins out of High School. He declined to sign and attended Louisville where he has significantly boosted his draft stock.
Burdi's calling card is his plus-plus fastball that sits mid-90's and reaches triple digits routinely. He also throws a plus slider that hits low-90's with bite. He's struck out nearly 50% of the batters he's faced this year with his elite arsenal and good command.
His main detractor is his 3/4 arm slot and awkward delivery which has many scouts dooming him as 100% a bullpen piece. He'd likely be a great addition to any bullpen however and Louisville has pitched him mainly out of the pen this year.
Casey Gillaspie 1B
Gillaspie earns praises for his extreme work ethic, but unlike his brother Connor (who also played at WSU) Casey is much more of an introvert.
Gillaspie is known for his great plate disciple, currently sporting nearly a 2:1 walk-to-strikeout ratio, and exceptionally strong power.
Those two skills make up for his lack of glove and speed. Perhaps Gillaspie could play the OF, but he'd be decidedly below average out there.
He reminds me of a right side of the infield version of Hunter Dozier to be honest.
Kodi Medeiros LHP
The native Hawaiian has a complete wipeout slider that has been touted as the best secondary pitch by a prep pitcher in the draft. Medeiros is looking to be the highest drafted Hawaiian ever and if the Royals take him here he would be. Kodi has a very active delivery which generates his electric stuff and movement. The fastball sits low-90's.
Jacob Bukauskas RHP
Bukauskas didn't really get much hype for this draft earlier because well... he wasn't eligible. Jacob has since reclassified himself and immediately threw a hole in the calendar of local scouts.
Bukauskas has plus fastball that can touch high-90's with ease and has the ability to sustain that velocity (so far). The changeup doesn't have as much promise for potential, but it could be suitable enough to get hitters out.
He uses his solid command to pound the strike zone and spot his fastball on the corners.
At 17 years old Jacob was old for a Junior, but now that he's a senior he'll be possibly the youngest player in the draft and won't be 18 until August.
Luis Ortiz RHP
Ortiz remains on the list but like Pentecost has dropped. Ortiz suffered an injury which remains undisclosed and has missed his past few starts. The profile remains the same, or so they think, so if the injury proves to be nothing major he still likely has first round talent.
Michale Kopech RHP
Kopech impressed scouts at the Under Armor All American Game in August by striking out all three batters he faced in quick fashion. While he got the results the stuff wasn't where some wanted it to be, but it is now. He can attribute this change to a huge increase in his FB velocity that peaked at 97. The secondary pitches are currently far behind the lively fastball though.
There's definitely still room for the 17 year old to grow to help his frame carry the arm speed and repeat his delivery and make the necessary adjustments.
Derek Fisher OF
I didn't photoshop that image. Fisher played for the Royals Baseball Club in the 2010 Perfect Game WWBA World Championship.
Fisher's price tag demands dropped him to the Rangers, who didn't sign him, after be a very well known prep player.
Fisher is known for having a high floor with good but limited upside. He got the best floor of probably anyone in the draft.
The overall profile is still very good. He's a left handed hitter with good contact ability and good power. The speed is there too. He's a poor fielder though so left field is where his home will be.
Fisher provides a very solid bat profile to go along side polish and could easily find himself higher in the draft on draft day. What's putting him this late right now though is his recent hamate injury a few weeks ago that will cause him to miss a good chunk of the college season and raises a flag about the power.
Will likely be solid across the hitting board, bring a good everyday player, but won't likely flash all-star caliber ever. Still would be a solid pick at this spot.
Alex Verdugo LHP/R
Probably the best two-way player in the draft, Verdugo has the fastball speed a slider break to pitch. His plus arm speed allows him to hit 95 from the mound and his great athleticism will allow him to repeat his delivery and stay there.
On the other side of the coin Verdugo makes excellent contact and hard power at the plate. He's a bit aggressive at times but has excellent bat speed.
As mentioned previously his arm is very strong but his speed will likely move him to rightfield rather than being able to play center. Verdugo has likely maxed out physically.
He could pitch or he could hit. Whichever is his and the organization that drafts him decision (I stress HIS decision) he'll likely be good regardless.
Derek Hill OF
Hill is what you generally expect from a speedy centerfielder. He's got excellent speed in the field/bases and range in center. He also carries a strong arm.
A good approach from the right side of the dish and bat speed allow him to make solid contact.
Like other speedy centerfielders though, Hill lacks power. He's got a good swing and bat speed which will let him hit plenty of doubles (which could be triples with his speed) but the over the fence action likely isn't happening at even an average rate.
That's not to say Hill has no power. He's got a solid body size and could grow a bit which in turn could bring some extra power, but again it's not likely to be anything substantial.
Marcus Wilson OF
The speed is certainly there as he's been timed at a 6.5 60 yarder with good instincts that could make him a baserunning threat.
I don't know how well the hit tool will play and Wilson can get aggressive, but he's got power for a speedy guy. He's young and has room for growth so with a little dreaming he could add even more power.