For the 2005 draft, the Royals held the #2 overall selection. Baseball, for years, had alternated the first overall pick between American and National Leagues. Starting in 2005, however, it would go solely on worst record. The Royals managed to lose 104 games---but the D-Backs wanted it worse and managed to lose a whopping 111 games.
1st Round (2nd Overall)
As the Royals 2004 season turned into a farce, it quickly became clear that they would have the #2 overall pick in 2005. I can't remember a draft in which the first two picks were known almost a full year before. We would be picking Alex Gordon. The best talent was a highschooler-Justin Upton-younger brother of B.J. and son of former Royals scout Melvin Upton. He was considered the heir to such great HS players as Griffey, Chipper and A-Rod. But the consensus #2 pick was Nebraska 3rd baseman Alex Gordon. Gordon did it all at Nebraska. His junior year he hit 372/518/715 with 23 stolen bases that followed his sophomore year of 365/493/754.
The Billy Butler pick of the year before was perceived by some as a budget pick (along with the cheap-o bonuses of rounds 5-9). Thus there was a little bit of debate leading up to the draft was whether the Royals would take a less expensive player at #2 overall (Ryan Zimmerman got some mentions). But the Royals took Gordon-who came from a family of Royals fans and eventually signed him in September when the Royals were desperate for some good news after a train-wreck of a season.
Gordon made his much anticipated professional debut with Wichita in 2006 and he didn't disappoint. He hit 325/427/588 with 22 steals, 73 walk and 113 strikeouts. Gordon was hyped as the next big thing. He was #1 or #2 on most prospect lists (some had Dice-K in front of him). After a great spring in 2007, he was the clubs opening day 3rd baseman where he struck out with the bases loaded against Curt Schilling in his first at bat. I have to admit, I was so excited to see the guy I would have been disappointed had he been sent to Omaha to start the season. But, as we have seen with Evan Longoria, David Price and Matt Wieters, many teams want to get delay free agency by a year by letting their top prospect get a month or two in the minors. It probably would have been a good idea to do that with Gordon-not just because of free agency but also to give him some more at bats as he struggled at the beginning of that first year-April OPS of 618 and May of 585. He played better as the year went on and finished with a line of 247/311/414. Last year he was mediocre in the first half of the season but hit well in 2nd half but was also hampered by injury. His final line for 2008 was: 260/351/432. By most accounts and metrics his fielding which was pretty good in 2007 was not as good in 2008.
Many of us expected instant stardom for Alex and perhaps that was unfair, but seeing fellow 2005 draftee Ryan Braun become an instantly great hitter didn't help our expectations. Gordon has made steady improvement at the plate the past 2 years and I look for that to continue. He has had a bad start to the year and seems to make things worse when he's struggling by pressing. (I wonder if Buddy Biancalana could do him any good?-I'm joking, sort of) I think he will at least be a very good 3rd baseman with decent defense and perhaps an OPS of around 850 or so but he still has a ceiling that could make him an All-Star.
Here's how I would rank Gordon against the 9 guys taken after him:
- Cameron Maybin-Tigers #10
- Ryan Braun-Brewers #5
- Alex Gordon-Royals #2
- Troy Tulowitzki-Rockies #7
- Ryan Zimmerman-Nationals #4
- Jeff Clement-Mariners #3
- Andrew McCutchen-Pirates #11
- Mike Pelfrey-Mets #9
- Ricky Romero-Blue Jays #6
- Wade Townsend-Devil Rays #8
In Round 2 the Royals took HS SS Jeff Bianchi. He looked to be a bit of an overdraft but everyone quickly forgot about that when he went to the Arizona League and hit 408/484/745 in about 100 at bats. Bianchi has been plagued by injuries and he only lgot 42 at bats in 2006 again in Arizona but hit 429/537/667. In 2007, he got a rude awakening in Iowa as he hit 247/296/315 for Burlington. Last year in Wilmington he played 2nd base and his 255/290/442. This year he is back at SS for Wilmington looking to build his limited success last year. He obviously need to improve that OBP but he has good pop and if he can play a decent middle infield then he could be a contributor at the big leagues. I look for a good year for Bianchi this year and he should see some time at AA.
Other players taken in Round 2 (after our pick): Ivan Dejesus, Chase Headly, Kevin Slowey, Yunel Escobar,
The Royals took Cal-Irivine RHP Chris Nicoll in the 3rd Round. Nicoll had a great junior year with a 2.5 ERA 113K/24BB in 111 IP. He pitched well in 27IP at Idaho Falls. In 2006 he went to Burlington and was great in 134IP he had a 2.82 ERA with 140K/40BB. He got a cup of coffee in High Desert to finish the year. 2007 was a disaster however. I believe he came down with the "yips" but has gradually gotten over those. Last year, he pitched about 40 innings at both Wilmington and NW Ark. He had an ERA of around 3 at both places with an excellent K/9 and K/BB ratios. He seems back on track and could help with the big club this year. I'd still like to see what he could do as a starter.
Other players taken in Round 3: Micah Owings, Nick Weglarz, Jordan Schafer, Brett Gardner, Daryl Jones
The Royals took HS outfielder Joe Dickerson in the 4th round. Dickerson is on the David Dejesus career track. DDJ came out of college as opposed to HS but beyond that their game is pretty similar. Both are left handed hitters who will draw a walk and have average power. Both lack an ideal bat for a corner position and have had their CF defense questioned. Dickerson spent 2006 in short-season Idaho Falls where he had a 788 OPS. In 2007 he had a 729 OPS at Burlington and then last year posted an 818 OPS at Wilmington. He has stolen about 25 bases a year but without a great success rate (about 66%). And like DDJ, he has battled injuries. If he can stay healthy at NW Arkansas this year he will be a player to keep your eye on.
Other players taken in Round 4: Justin Maxwell, Matt Gamel, Jeremy Hellickson, Brent Lillibridge, Chris Getz, Bryan Anderson
The Royals took Franklin Pierce SS Shawn Hayes in the 5th Round. There isn't much to say about him-he hasn't hit, I think he's been hurt and I don't think he's with the organization anymore.
Other players drafted in Round 5: Jeff Larish, Jonathan Meloan, Mitchell Boggs
Other picks of note:
In the 7th round the Royals took Arizona HS LHP Brent Fisher. He was still 17 when drafted, so he was a young draftee. He had a great debut in the Arizona League-50 IP, 13W, 69K ERA around 3. He went back to desert in 006 and was even better. 68IP, 41H, 19W, 98K. He got injured and only pitched 35 innings at Burlington in 2007 with an ERA around 5. Last year he only pitched around 30 inning but pitched decently. He's still only 21 so he might still make a run at being a prospect.
Others taken in Round 7: Michael Brantley, Jon Niese, and our own Dan Cortes
I'm going to insert someone we didn't sign. Justin Bristow was considered a first round talent going into his senior year but he had a down year. He still wanted first round money, so he dropped on draft day. The Royals took him in the 18th round. I don't think we ever were serious about signing him but he enrolled at Auburn and had a rough go of it, and ended up at East Carolina (which sounds like a fictional place to me). I think we drafted him as a SS but by now he was pitching. He had a decent year last year and was picked in the 5th round by the Cubs where he is not a top prospect.
Others takend Round 22: Jaime Garcia
Always good when there is a late round pick that deserves to be written about. This one might be very good indeed. Dan Gutierrez was a draft and follow---we took him the draft in 2005 and then he pitched at JUCO in 2006 and we could (and did) sign him leading up to the 2006 draft. His velocity jumped at the end of 07 and had a great 2008 campaign for Burlington, posting a 2.70 ERA with 104Ks and 25W in 90IP. He was hurt in May but came back strong and got better as the year went on. He's had some minor injury issues to start this year, but should be at Wilmington soon. He's already one of our best pitching prospects and we could see him late in 2010.
Others taken in Round 33: zip.
Gordon is already helping the club and there is a decent chance that at least a couple of Bianchi, Nicoll, Dickerson and Gutierrez will be an asset to this club. I'd give this draft a "B". It could turn out better than that if Gordon makes a jump forward and/or the minor league guys turn out well.