In April we took a look at guys who could go in the range of the Royals picks. This article is a little more specific and concise. Rather that looking at a range of guys who COULD still be available there, I've decided to target two or three players in the three early range of pick the Royals have based on who will have likely gone before and who they've, the Royals, taken prior. Also system depth will play a part.
This isn't a mock draft per se, as I don't think I'll do one for each teams pick, but I think a few days prior to the draft I'll do mock picks of the Royals 17/28/40/57 and possibly 93 as anything at that point can be a crap shoot.
With your first round pick(s) it's pretty regarded that you should be looking to just take the best player available regardless of team need, but the Royals team needs are obvious. If a pitcher falls into their lap, like say Jeff Hoffman, then that might take some consideration, but in the mid-teen's and late-20's there are some very good college and prep bats that could bolster the next wave of Royals prospects (self plug). The current system has good pitching but given the age of some of the Royals current hitters (Gordon/Butler/Infante) and the lack of impact bats beyond AA, I think a college hitter would breathe some life into that aforementioned wave.
I don't want to lean just towards college bats, and with the multiple picks the Royals have early on there is certainly some chance to take a risk on high upside guys, but a polished college bat is a very appealing idea for them.
I want to clarify this: the following list are guys that I like. They might not be the guys that the mock drafts or rankings put at each slot (although they generally are) and they might not be the guys the Royals pick, but they are who I would consider good picks at each spot.
Michael Conforto - LF Oregon State
Conforto is the best college hitter in my opinion. Brad Zimmer has better bat speed and Kyle Schwaber might have more power, but Conforto brings a little bit of both, a solid hit tool, and a very good eye at the plate. The power hasn't been on display this year as I'd like, but he's second in walks in college and first in OBP. His defense has also improved, but is still pretty fringe to below average.
I don't know if Conforto will still be here at 17 but I'd peg the odds at 60/40 he is still there. If so, he's my #1 target at #17.
Kyle Schwarber - C Indiana
I really like Schwarber and I'd bet the odds of him being available at 17 probably 90%. I dream on the power and his build is solid (he was recruited as a linebacker). He's a guy that has the frame to hold up at catcher long term and if moved could play 162 games every year. He's decent enough to stick behind the plate, but his bat is what's getting him here at 17. He could move to left field and has the wheels to at least be adequate there. Will need to work on his bat to ball skills and discipline to have the power play fully at the highest level, but he's got the work ethic capable of doing so.
Sean Newcomb - LHP Hartford
Newcomb the guy that I've heard that could be described as "Man...how did this guy last that long?" five years from now. Big framed, power pitcher, and not a ton of miles on the arm...and he's a lefty. The fastball is a plus pitch but he needs to work on the secondary stuff (change and curve), but he's not just a 100-MPH fastball dominant guy. Hartford isn't a college known for baseball players, but Newcomb could be the second best player ever from there. Jeff Bagwell being the first.
I think there's probably a 90%+ chance Newcomb is available at 17.
Derek Fisher - LF Virginia
Derek Fisher: why can't I quit you? Not that I should. Fisher isn't an overdraft at all at this spot and there's a pretty good chance he goes earlier than 28 if a team wants to roll the dice a bit. What I love about fisher is his power. It's a 70 grade for me and the hit tool is a 50. Fisher has the frame of a major league and really no projection left. What scares some, not me, is his work ethic and the hamate injury. The work ethic is valid it seems as he has been known to not hustle at time. I'll admit that, but the hamate injury doesn't scare me...that much. Fisher hit two home runs immediately after returning from the injury and it'll be interesting to see how he wraps up the college season as that will ultimately allocate his stock.
Fisher is a wild card. It's probably 50/50 if he's still available at pick #28. If so, he's my guy here.
Michael Chavis - 3B/2B Sprayberry HS
I've recently grown to like Chavis more and more as I read more about him and see video. He's not a SS in the pros, but I think he could play 2B or worst case 3B where his strong arm will help. His strength is what has caught my eye. He's got a solid frame (5'10" 195lbs) and has got some speed. The potential combination of power/speed is what intrigues me so much. He's more polished than most prep hitters and that, coupled with his tremendous max-effort style of play, he's my backup choice at 28 and perhaps by June he'll be further up. The height/weight are different but his stance and setup remind me of Brett Jackson.
Casey Gillapsie - 1B Wichita State
Maybe I was wrong in giving Conforto the nod for best college hitter, but given the overall profile Conforto wins. Gillaspie is my favorite college hitter on bat alone. The guy is a switch hitter, owns the strike zone, and combines plus power and an average hit tool that makes consistent contact. He's a bat only guy to be sure as he's got very little speed or defensive prowess. If we're looking for a guy who could replace Billy Butler it could be Gillaspie.
Braxton Davidson - 1B Roberson HS
I didn't want to include four guys and wanted to be more narrow, but I'd be remorseful if I didn't at least mention Braxton Davidson. I think I slept on him early on, but have grown more into him as I've read about him.
The volatility of High School first baseman is something to be aware of. He's definitely behind Fisher/Chavis/Gillaspie in the pecking order, but if they are all gone and Davidson is still staring you in the face...I think I might pull that trigger.
His swing mechanics are tremendous. Plus power is there. He's worked on his ability to make more consistent contact, not that it was ever a major hole in his game, and could be a plus hit tool. The speed is absolutely not there and neither is arm strength that could move him to 3B. He could perhaps play left field, but it would seem like Eric Hosmer 2.0 out there.
I remember somebody calling him a safe pick, but I don't think he's that safe given the overall skill set and history of High School first baseman, but if you're looking for a bat only probably pretty good hitter at the major league level, Davidson could be your guy.
Michael Gettys - CF Gainesville HS
Want a high-risk/high-reward guy? This is him. In my last article I was nearly imprisoned for the things I said about Gettys' body, but they still ring true. Strength in spades, a rocket launcher attached to his shoulder, all the speed you could dream of from a guy his size, and the build of a modern day Achilles. If he makes the adjustments to his hit tool and makes good consistent contact then he's probably a true five-tool player. As of now he's gonna need some work, but that's where you take the gamble. With three picks in the Top 40, the potential payoff is there without spoiling the first two picks.
Gettys is probably going to still be there at #40 because he's gonna need some work. A team like Boston could take him earlier as they have some picks to play with.
Luis Ortiz - RHP Sanger HS
Another guy who your looking at projection. Really smooth delivery, fastball that can sit mid-90's, and can just throw strikes. He was very softbodied at one point (as shown above) and has gotten that under control, but as he ages and grows I wonder if it'll regress a bit. He was plagued a bit by an arm tightness early this year that has caused him to be used sporadically and the speed was dampened. It bounced back to normal recently though. There's some risk in his body and having a prior injury, but Ortiz could end up being a solid pick here and I think he'll still be available.
Bonus! Pick #57
Just going to mention one guy here who I would like to take at this point. Would definitely be springing for him a bit early, but he's probably not going to be around come pick #93.
Bryce Montes De Oca - RHP Lawrence HS
Normally I would never want anything that came out of Lawrence, but I can't hate on Montes De Oca. Big frame, local kid, Mizzou commit, power fastball. He's already had Tommy John Surgery so that it's a good thing or a bad thing depending on who you are. The fastball hit 98 MPH in short outings upon his return from TJS, but in more recent long stints he's back to the mid-90's. The slurve and change need work and his command can wobble. Probably won't be around come pick #93 so if the Royals like him then they'll need to take him at #57. A good risk/reward pick here. His name means Mountain of Geese. How awesome is that? 70 grade name.