In the past I went one by one through possible draft picks for the Royals, writing about (article linked to each name) Trey Ball, Hunter Renfroe, Phil Bickford, Reese McGuire, Austin Meadows, DJ Peterson, Dom Smith, and most recently Cornelius Randolph. This year though the Royals have their latest draft pick since 1983 (21st overall), and by then most of the consensus high-end talent (in regard to being a top 10 pick) will be gone. That makes the 21st and 33rd overall picks the Royals have in the first round hard to figure. Not only does the best player available become indecisive, but we also won't know who may have fallen due to injury or signing concerns.
So instead of chronicling each individual potential pick, I'll instead spread out groups of players the Royals could draft based on talent and availability.
James Kaprielian, UCLA RHP
Kaprielian was a known name in 2012, but his commitment to UCLA held him from the first few rounds. He's got a good size at 6'4" 200lbs, but his stuff didn't jump to a premium like other high schoolers once they get to college. Instead his velocity on ticket up slightly and his stuff became more refined and sharp rather than superb.
That is what Kaprielian offers in a nutshell: refinement. It's not a huge upside profile, but it's someone who could potentially have 3 average pitches with average or above command. His fastball hovers in the low-90's (tops at around 93-94 MPH). Arguably though his best pitch is his changeup that he offers good command and fade. His slider isn't much of an out pitch given it's lower velo, but instead can generate weak contact from batters. Behind all is his curveball, which is a grade or two behind the other offerings.
If you want high upside, look elsewhere, but if you want a high floor, mid-rotation pitcher, Kaprielian is your man.
Possible comp (by arsenal/profile): Kind of sounds a bit like Jeremy Guthrie (pitch mix/velo wise) or Rick Porcello (what he is, not what he was supposed to be)
Now, there is some concern here though with him...
I asked Chris O'Leary (who's stuff on hitting and pitching mechanics you can find here - though he's a Cardinals fan so take everything he says with some salt...) and O'Leary expressed concern as well, likening Kaprielian's mechanics to former Cardinal Anthony Reyes. Reyes suffered numerous elbow injuries I believe over his ineffective career that saw him bounce between the bullpen and rotation.
I'm not quick to say his mechanics are immediately damning, but the inverted W has validity for noted stress on a pitchers body.
Phil Bickford, RHP Southern Nevada
Bickford was linked to the Royals back in 2013 in the draft the Royals took Hunter Dozier and Sean Manaea. Bickford was a helium guy who shot up the charts based on great velocity he started showing in the spring. In the summer he was still impressive in the low-90's, but after winter came through, Bickford cranked it up into the 95-96 MPH range. He was taken by the Blue Jays early on in the draft, but his bonus demands were too strong (commitment to Cal State) and the Jays failed to sign him. Bickford enrolled at Cal State, but transferred after his junior year to Southern Nevada to bump up his draft eligibility a year.
Bickford is polarizing. Some scouts think he's perhaps the best starter in this draft citing his 70 grade fastball, decent command, and future stuff. Others though see him as a reliever in the end given his inconsistent slider and changeup that oscillates from flashing potential plus to flashing potentially average.
Possible comp: Nathan Eovaldi - mid-90's average FB velo, with a meh slider and changeup.
Kevin Newman, SS Arizona
Like Bickford, asking scouts about Newman can bring about different opinions from each person asked, and that reminds me a bit of Colin Moran (2013 early pick who was also a college infielder). Like Moran, some scouts think Newman is the best pure hitter in the draft when it comes to making consistent contact and hitting for average. Furthermore Newman isn't know for power, any power at all really. It's presently 30 grade and even with the hit tool might only play up to fringe 40/45.
Defensively Newman has a chance to stick at shortstop, but he has fringey speed and an arm that isn't anything above average or so. He'll be given a shot to play shortstop, but many think second base is his ultimate home.
The bat-to-ball skills are special and he belong firmly in the truism that "hitters hit." He won't ruin you at shortstop, and may move to second, but he'll get on base, hit some doubles, a home run occasionally, and become an average or so player.
Possible comp: The good Marco Scutaro or Jose Altuve without the speed (and taller of course). If you really dream on it, he could be Matt Carpenter (okay fielder, great OBP/contact, doubles over home runs)
Nick Plummer, OF Brother Rice HS (MI)
Plummer was a bit of a pop-up prospect this summer as he dominated the Area Code games and surprising many scouts who have never even heard of him. Furthermore Michigan hasn't had a first round draft pick born in the state in 10+ years.
As you can tell, Plummer is a well filled out but short guy. He only has average or so wheels and an okay arm so centerfield may not be his ultimate end point and instead could move to right. The issue there is that he's not your prototypical right fielder given his 5'11" height (if you care about that). He'll likely fill out a bit more making LF the most definitive option.
Where Plummer shines is from the left side of the plate. We're looking at possibly plus power and hit tool coupled with a good eye at the plate. He's been admired for his quick twitch ability, and work ethic.
Future tools could be:
That's a pretty good caliber player, so what's keeping him down? It's kind of Michigan... I mentioned the short height that worries some scouts, but also where he's from is a possible concern.
Think about Bubba Starling. He was from a non-warm weather state (Kansas) that doesn't play baseball year round (though it didn't hurt that his tools were off the charts). This inherently makes the player more raw. Michigan may be the worst midwest state for baseball talent. This means Plummer played against meh competition and didn't play all the time like someone from say California or Florida. This is tough for scouts to evaluate on given how little they've seen him compete and the competition he's playing against.
Plummer has a commitment to Kentucky, but stands a pretty good chance that he'll be bought out of it if taken early enough.
Possible comp: Upside would be Shin-Soo Choo with a weaker arm, Alex Gordon without the defense, or maybe Milton Bradley.