On May 19th I chronicled four potential Royals draft picks, and of course we'll continue the series today as well. Remember that the ranking and club considerations of the prospects, in relation to their slots, are constantly changing in the weeks, days, hours, and minutes leading up to the draft.
Chris Betts C, Wilson High School (CA)
There isn't a ton of catching depth in this draft, and especially so early on. In 2014 we had Kyle Schwarber, Max Pentecost, Justice Sheffield, Chase Vallot (who the Royal selected) and Blake Anderson all profiling as first round catchers. This year... it's pretty much Betts.
Betts broke on the scene in 2013 as a the breakout junior of the Area Code games and continued his hitting throughout his high school career continuing into this spring.
On the offensive side of the ball, Betts features plus raw power from the left side of the plate, and is in the conversation for the best LH power tool in the draft class. The bat speed is good and while his load has some questions to it, the hit tool projects to be average or slightly above.
Defensively Betts has excellent arm strength but isn't very athletic. He's not a guaranteed catcher/non-catcher, but there are adjustments to be made in his throwing motion and blocking through his lack of athleticism. Any team that drafts him will try him out as catcher, but the bat could carry him to another position if the team wishes to focus on that (like many catcher prospects before him).
If he were to move to 1B then the bat would still play and with the loft in his swing and good contact skills, Betts could hit .270-.280 with 20+ HR at any position.
Possible comparison: Some have dropped a Brian McCann comparison on Betts.
Garrett Whitley, OF Niskayuna High School (NY)
Whitley has foolishly received Mike Trout comps this spring. First because he is from the Northeast (Trout was from NJ, Whitley from upstate NY), but most importantly because of his possible five tools. He won't be Mike Trout, even at a theoretical peak, but he's still easily a first round talent.
Body size, he does looks a little like Trout (not as much as Michael Gettys - who I loved in last years draft), but Whitley isn't quite as physically commanding in the box.
What Whitley most gets praised for is his bat speed; it's perhaps the best in the class from a prep or college hitter. It's noticeable how quick it is during BP (though not on an elite Javier Baez level but that's not an insult). Combined with his good approach, scouts comfortably put a plus hit tool on him. Power is going to be a little harder to see being plus, but his swing, size, and hit tool could help push it up to average or slightly above-average.
Whitley is a plus runner and profiles as a centerfielder thanks to the speed and has the arm strength should he move to left to play there (he shouldn't go to right).
There is an idea out there that the Diamondbacks will take Whitley first overall as an underslot and use the savings for others, but Whtiley has cooled down a bit in the later weeks of Spring and unless someone plays the slot games, he's likely to last in the vicinity of the Royals.
Possible comparison: Someone said poor man's Matt Kemp (offensively) while Lorenzo Cain could be a possibility.
Ian Happ, 2B Cincinnati
Happ might be one of my favorite guys in the draft, but maybe I like underrated second baseman too much (see Forrest Wall last year).
Happ is coming off hernia surgery this winter and it leaves some wondering if we've even seen the full Ian Happ. He'll get the high-floor label from scouts being a polished college hitter, but there's still questions about him.
His calling card is his hit tool. It's at least the best in the college ranks alongside Kevin Newman of Arizona, and he's one of the best overall. Hitting from the left side may give him the overall nod. Happ has just hit and hit and hit. He's got one of the better approaches at the plate in the draft and is a bit more impressive from the left side than the right (he's a switch hitter). The power is fringy, but above average compared to second baseman and he's capable of hitting balls into the gap and pull side power. Giving him future 60 hit 50 power is very reasonable.
The main question with Happ is where he'll play, and this is why scouts are down on him. He's not very athletic and defensively he's been choppy there with poor actions at the keystone. Some think he could stick at 2B but be poor there, while most would just rather move him to left field given the average or so arm strength.
Possible comp: Daniel Murphy