(sorry, I promised this article yesterday but a power outage changed my plans)
4 days-it's like counting down to Christmas. We are starting to get a trickle of information about the Royals draft (still no KC Star article on the draft-Hey Mellinger-where is our draft article?!-don't make us wait until Tuesday morning!). So here are a few somewhat random thoughts and rumblings that I've put together regarding our draft.
Up the middle
We've heard from a couple of places that the Royals would like an up the middle player-C, SS, CF-preferably from college. One problem: this years draft is very, very thin on position players. Last year, 12 of the first 14 picks were position players. This year there may only be 3 or 4 taken in the first 14 picks. There is a deep group of catchers available and the Royals have reportedly looked at Boston College C Tony Sanchez, and HS catchers Will Myers and Max Stassi. But most of those guys appear to be reaches at #12. CF-Donovan Tate might be available-but his Boras asking price is supposed to be pretty high and his bat is questionable. Southern Cal SS Grant Green is sliding and could be available, but is also a Boras Client. One other player HS SS Jiovanni Miller is supposed to have a great glove with a decent to good bat.
I've seen Royals front office folks quoted a couple of times talking about how having a lower draft slot will allow them to be more active on the International market. Just a few months ago the Royals were budgeting for the 12th overall pick, a sandwich pick (for Grudz) and a 2nd round pick. The last two aren't happening which will save the team close to $2 million. Look for that money to be reinvested, either in the July 2nd International Signing Day or some later round signability picks. The Royals already spent $600,000 this winter/spring signing a 17 year old Korean catcher, Shin Jin-Ho.
Most of the players we are linked to have been the ones we've discussed some before:
We have been recently linked to Grant Green who will take an above slot deal to sign and it won't be before August 14th. I like Green, but I'd like him a lot more if we could get him 200 abs in the Midwest League this year. (UPDATE: Kevin Goldstein over at BP is saying that Green is moving back up draft boards--or he never actually moved that far down)
We could still take a HS pitcher. I think Matzek, Turner, and Wheeler will be gone by the time we pick. That would leave Shelby Miller and Matt Purke. Miller throws the fastball/curveball combo that we seem to favor and I've heard differing stuff on his changeup.
Greg Schaum seems to think (or wants to think) Sun Devil RHP Mike Leake is a strong possibility-and I would be fine with that-his 15 strikeout performance last week got a lot of folks attention. Leake would probably be a realtively easy sign but college pitchers are about the least important players to get signed soon after the draft since their arms probably need some rest after a grueling college season.
Jonathan Mayo has us taking Missou RHP Kyle Gibson-who has dropped b/c his velocity was down in his last start. I would be shocked if we did that for two reasons-first the Royals favor pitchers with a good curve and Gibson's calling card is his great slider, also the health concerns raise all kinds of red flags.
The first night of the draft is only the first 3 rounds-so we will have two picks #12 and #90ish. Our 4th round selection--our first picks of day 2--could be interesting. Last year, our 4th round was Tim Melville (who we signed for $1.25 million), and the 1st selection of day 2 was Jason Esposito (who we offered $1.5 million). If the Royals want to take a big signability choice it might be with that 4th round pick--when we have had a chance to check with a player over that night and confirm what they are willing to sign for--as long as they aren't committed to Vandy. A name to look for might be Luke Bailey who was considered the top prep Catcher but had to have TJ surgery--the Royals could take him and give him $1+ million.
Instead of ranking the top players in the draft, I'll rank the players we've been linked to or should be linked to. This draft is getting less predictible by the day so there may be somebody availible that we never expected to be there--which would be the case if Green is on the board at 12:
1. Grant Green--SS
2. Mike Leake--RHP
3. Shelby Miller--RHP
4. Donovan Tate--CF
5. Matt Purke--LHP
7. Will Myers--C
8. Max Stassi--C
10. Tony Sanchez--C
11. Kyle Gibson--RHP
12. Chad James--RHP
let us know your thoughts in the poll. I'm sure JJ Picoolo will dutifully consider the results of the poll.