Nothing takes the sting of a losing streak out of your mouth like irrationally hoping that guys we drafted 2 years ago are all going to be superstars. So, let's look back the 2007 draft: By now, it is pretty well known that the Royals swept Detroit at Detroit to end the 2006 season, denying Detroit of the AL Central crown and also preventing us from drafting 1st overall (Tampa was swept by Cleveland that final weekend and finished with a record 1 game worse than ours). By the end of 2006, it was already apparent that David Price was heavy favorite to be #1 overall in June 2007. The 2007 Draft was the first draft overseen by Dayton Moore.
1st Round (2nd Overall)
Royals fans pretty much knew all Spring that Price would not be available. All Spring, I wanted Rick Porcello-A HS pitching phenom from NJ (who is now in the Tiger rotation and doing pretty well for a 20 year old). I've never been big on drafting catchers in the first round-it has been, historically, one of the worst gambles in the draft. So I didn't give Matt Wieters much attention. The Royals were linked to Josh Vitters-considered the best HS bat going into the year. As the HS season wore on, Mike Moustakas exploded on the scene, setting the California HS record for home runs. Moustakas was a compact HS SS who would probably not be able to stay at short. He had great raw power with extremely quick wrists. He was known as a smart, passionate player and a Boras client. In the days before the draft, the Royals were linked to both players and eventually took Moustakas with the 2nd overall pick.
For the first time, MLB instituted a draft signing date: August 15th-you signed a player by that time or you lost him. You would get a selection in next year's round to compensate for losing a player. Being a Boras client, you knew that this was going to go down to the wire. The Royals eventually signed Moustakas on August 14th for a bonus of $4 million. The story was that Boras didn't want to sign but Moustakas' dad stepped in at the last moment and signed because he had indicated to the Royals brass that Mike would sign.
Mike got 41 at-bats in Idaho at the end of 07 and had an 822 OPS. He began 2008 at Burlington. His first month in Iowa was brutal, posting a 479 OPS. A Southern Cal HS kid was adjusting to cold weather, full season ball and being away from home. That first month seems like it was a good learning experience as Mike bounced back the rest of the year. His 2nd half numbers were amazing: .392 OPB and .557 SLG. He also made the anticipated switch from SS to 3B.
Several reports have indicated that the Royals love Moustakas' leadership ability and that he is a guy that others are drawn to (although that may be a drawback if it leads other Royal prospects to switch to Scott Boras Corp.). He is a fiery competitor. This year he has gotten off to a better start at Wilmington with an OPS around 800. He hasn't gotten on base as much as I'd like but I think we will again see him heat up as the weather does.
Here's how I would rank Moustakas against the 9 guys taken after him:
- Matt Wieters-Baltimore #5 overall
- Madison Bumgarner-San Fran #10
- Mike Moustakas-KC #2
- Matt LaPorta-Milwaukee--#7
- Jarrod Parker-Arizona--#9
- Josh Vitters-Cubs--#3
- Phillippe Aumont-Mariners #11
- Ross Detwiler-Nationals--#6
- Casey Weathers-Colorado #8
- Daniel Moskos-Pirates #4
The Royals took North Carolina High School pitcher Sam Runion in the 2nd Round.
Runion had a good fastball out of HS but was a bit of project. He was a bit of an odd selection taken higher than he was projected. The Royals tend to favor HS pitchers who are more athletic and have better pure stuff. Runion didn't look (and doesn't still) to add much to his stuff. The Royals were, I guess, hoping he would add better off speed stuff. He struggled in 2007 in the Arizona league (but was still getting a K an inning). He started 2008 in Burlington, Iowa-where he struggled with a 5.75 ERA in 40+ innings. They sent him closer to home to short-season Burlington, NC where he had a 3.35 ERA in 47 IP but only 30 Ks. In 2009, he was back in Iowa and has gotten shelled so far to the tune of an ERA over 8 in 27 IP.
Other players taken in Round 2: Jordan Zimmerman
I was disappointed we took Runion in Round 2 because I was hoping for California HSer named Dan Duffy. Turns out he was available and we took him in Round 3-and he could be a steal. Duffy flew under the radar because he didn't play in any of California's baseball hotbeds-but he had a 3 pitch repertoire and knew how to use it. He dominated the Arizona league, posting an 1.45 ERA in 37 IP with 63! Ks and 17 BB. Last year at Burlington, Iowa, he had a 2.20 ERA in 82 IP with 102 K and 25 BB. So far this year he has a 3.38 ERA in 32 IP with 33 K and 9 BB. His ERA would be even better save for one bad start. He could become a very nice #2 SP on our team.
Other players taken in Round 3: Jonathan LuCroy, Neftali Soto
The Royals took Peter Mitchell Hodge Nielsen in the 4th. With a name like that....you guessed it: he's Canadian. He was decent in Arizon in 2007, posting a 4.24 ERA but last year he went back to Arizona and was abysmal: 9.79 ERA in 30 IP with 31 BB and 14K. He's not yet 20 and I assume he's in Extended Spring Training-but he's going to have come on quick to become a prospect..
Other players taken in Round 4: Andrew Lambo
The Royals took Pepperdine CF Adrian Ortiz in Round 5. Ortiz is fast. I don't mind fast players but when that is the first thing that describes a player that signals a certain skill set (and lack of a certain skill set) that indicates that player who will probably not be very good. Ortiz posted a 710 OPS in 2007 at Idaho Falls. Last year, he started at Burlington with a 720 OPS and 29 steals vs. 15 times being caught. He was promoted to Wilmington where his numbers went up for the 100 ABs he was there: 786 OPS 5SB/5CS. He drew more walks which was a promising sign. So far this year, he is back to struggling with 600 OPS and 2 BB vs. 12K.
Other players drafted in Round 5: Jake Arrieta
The Royals took 3B Fernando Cruz in the 6th Round. He is from Puerto Rico. He was allowed to enter the draft after receiving his HS diploma right after turning 17-so he was extremely young to be drafted (He was more like the age of a Latin American signee). Baseball America said he could possibly have been a 1st-2nd Round pick had he waited for the 2008 draft. He predictably struggled in the AZ league posting a 500 OPS-with a horrible BB/K ratio. He wasn't much better in Burlington, NC last year. But he just turned 19 and has time. He's a switch hitter with good power and good batspeed. I liked this pick when we made, I still like it now-not many 6th rounders have Cruz's kind of upside.
Others taken in Round 6: Will Middlebrooks, Kyle Blair, Casey Crosby
The Royals took uber athlete Hilton Richardson in the 7th Round. Another young, toolsy player-he hasn't hit much, just turned 20 and will probably be in Idaho Falls later this year.
Other picks of note:
The Royals took their first college pitcher of 2007 in the 10th Round. Greg Holland is a reliever who gets a good amount of strikeouts and ground balls. He pitched well in Wilmington last year-with a 3.42 ERA in over 80 IP. He's off to a good start with NW Arkansas this year-a 2.87 ERA in 15 IP. He looks to be a solid reliever.
David Lough was drafted out a small college in Pennsylvania. He's a good athlete. He played very well in the 2nd half of last year at Burlington-he got off to a hot start with Wilmington this year but has cooled off considerably of late. He's already 23, so he's not exactly a spring chicken.
Let me wish our Sean McCauley a Happy 20th Birthday Today. He's been a nice little pick for us at catcher. He's doesn't do anything great but doesn't have any big holes in his game. I've heard his defense is pretty good. He's one a trio of catchers at Burlington and is predictably struggling early on. He's got plenty of time to bounce back.
Alex Caldera was taken out of a California Junior College. He had an ERA of 2.90 at Burlington last year and this year it's a little under 5 in Wilmington but he has pretty good peripherals. He's no spring chicken at age 23.
The Royals took Matt Mitchell out of a California High School. He dominated the Arizona league in 2007 and last year pitched well in Burlington, Iowa even though he didn't strike out many. He ended up needing Tommy John surgery in the offseason. He'll be back in 2010 and is a sleeper prospect to watch.
Keaton Hayenga was a highly regarded draft prospect until he slid into a base, jammed his shoulder and ended up needing labrum surgery on his pitching arm. It looked like he was headed to Washington State but the Royals ponied up $300,000 to sign him-even though they knew he wouldn't pitch the rest of 2007 or for the regular season of 2008. He came back in Instructional League in the Fall and was pitching in the low-mid 90s-the Royals were apparently extremely impressed. He's got a big upside and should pitch in a short season league this year and he debut is eagerly anticipated.
Moose and Duffy are enough to make this draft a success. If one of the toolsy guys develops, its just icing. I'd give this draft a B+. Matt Wieters looks like a better choice at this point, but hey-at least we didn't take Daniel Moskos. I tend to look at these drafts more by who we did take and not who we passed on. The Royals still have a large group of players that are still interesting-that is partly because this draft class is still young but also the Royals started taking better risks and were willing to dish out some six figure bonuses to get players who slid because of bonus demands.