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Looking back on past Royals drafts

How has The Process worked?

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

In our continued coverage of the 2015 draft, we'll look back at the previous drafts. It's really hard to grade a draft, possibly pointless or impossible, until a few years have passed at least. Teams work with only the information they have at the time and we judge those older decision based on current returns. Now that doesn't mean draft choices are infallible, but unless a team goes so far off the board with their first pick, most things generally fall in line with the consensus ranking. The first overall pick is usually a player ranked in the top five of the consensus rankings. For instance Carlos Correa went first overall to Houston in 2012 despite being a few spots behind the general consensus top player(s) Byron Buxton/Mike Zunino/Mark Appel. The Astros of course took Correa with the intent to sign him below slot and use the money elsewhere on Lance McCullers and Rio Ruiz. The Royals did something similar in 2013, drafting Hunter Dozier (then more of a 15-25ish overall pick) to use the savings on Sean Manaea (who at one point was in conversation to go 1.1).

I'm going to free ball this, but there stands to reason there should probably be some concise and systematic way to grade classes. Maybe it's number of top 10 guys? Maybe it's the number of true potential MLB players on some level? I'm going to take both into consideration, but I'm not going to get as formal as creating a specific grading system.

I can think of a baseline for a F though: the 2011 Rays class. In all their first 10 round picks, and they had plenty of them due to the old compensation system, other than Mikie Mahtook, there's basically nobody who is on the prospect radar or has impact potential.

Thier first overall pick, Taylor Guerrieri, is still on some minds given his potential, but he has drug suspensions, rehab, Tommy John and other off field issues that throw up some of the biggest red flags.

Blake Snell has taken a step forward and may be the saving grace of this class after 5 years in the minors; just now reaching AA.

Everyone else is some matter of org fodder or out of the system. They had 20 picks in the first 10 rounds, including 10 in the first or supplemental first round, but came out unsuccessful. Again...this is easier to grade in hindsight. In fact, this class was graded as an A+ at the time.

Tampa Bay Rays | Key Picks: Taylor Guerrieri, Mikie Mahtook, Jake Hager, Brandon Martin, Tyler Goeddel, Jeff Ames, Blake Snell, Kes Carter, Grayson Garvin, James Harris, Granden Goetzman, Lenny Linsky, Johnny Eierman

Yes, the Rays drafted all of these players. And, they got every one of them within the top 120 picks. The thing to remember about the MLB Draft is that it's about getting as many bodies into the farm system as possible. Tampa Bay certainly got quantity here. They picked a diverse group, from polished college arms like Grayson Garvin, to high upside prep pitchers in Taylor Guerrieri, to toolsy position players like Johnny Eierman. You can't do better than this in a draft.

Grade: A+


Round Overall Player Notes
1 17 Brandon Finnegan SP or RP; MLB experience. Not sure what the org is doing with him
1 28 Foster Griffin 19yo in A Ball. 2.84 FIP; Results are good so far
1 40 Chase Vallot 18yo in A Ball. 146 wRC+; one of the youngest players in '14 draft; Contact is an issue, but power has been there
2 56 Scott Blewett 19yo in Rookie Lg. Not a great debut; walks were concerning. 4.82 FIP
3 92 Eric Skoglund 22yo in A+. 2014 was meh, but 2015 has been good; 2.18 FIP
4 123 DJ Burt Poor results in debut; Waiting for SS to begin
5 183 Corey Ray 22yo in A Ball. Results are good so far. 3.79 FIP
6 183 Logan Moon 23yo in A+. Meh results so far. Speed/contact is kind of there, but no power as expected
7 213 Brandon Downes 22yo in A Ball. Above average lines in each level based on power
8 243 Ryan O'Hearn 21yo in A Ball. Hitting very well; power has been great but some aggresivness at the plate
9 273 Brandon Thomasson 22yo waiting for SS. Poor results in debut
10 303 Nick Green 24yo in A+. Pinpoint command artist with good K-rates. FIP good in Rookie and A+
Round Overall Player Others
15 453 Corey Toups 24yo in A Ball. Results have been good but will need to hit well at every level to remain interest

Grade - N/A

Not even going to try to grade this draft yet. It's nice that it's already paid off with Finnegan in some manner, but all the other players are in the low minors. I'm a big proponent of Ryan O'Hearn and Scott Blewett (who I think I placed a slot or two too low on my top 30).

There isn't a ton on top talent from this draft (as least as far as we can tell), but the top 4-5 picks are certainly intriguing and capable of some big league impact.


Round Overall Player Notes
1 8 Hunter Dozier 23yo in AA. Struggling in his second go round of AA.
1 34 Sean Manaea 23yo in AA. Good when on the mound, but has had nagging injuries. Yet to play in 2015
2 46 Cody Reed 22yo in A+. Meh for the first two years, but pretty good so far this year. 2.22 FIP
3 82 Carter Hope 19yo in Rookie. Waiting for SS to start. Long way off and mixed results
4 114 Zane Evans 23yo in AA. Good results overall. 127/168 wRC+ in A+/AA this year. Would like more HR power. Could pitch if the bat doesn't hold up.
5 144 Amalani Fukofuka 19yo in Rookie. Super raw as we expected. Years away and results have been not so good
6 174 Luke Farrell 24yo in AA. Stuff is excellent but command can be a problem. Could be a reliever but will get a chance to start until he fails fully.
7 204 Kyle Bartsch No longer in the org. Traded to the Padres for Reymond Fuentes
8 234 Cody Stubbs 24yo in A+ or AA; Hasn't played this year so far. On the DL. I liked him out of UNC but 1B only
9 264 Daniel Rockett 24yo in A+. Good debut but struggled in A ball levels.
10 294 Alex Newman 22yo in SS. 2014 injury shortened season. Yet to play this year. Poor results
Round Overall Player Others
13 384 Jonathan Dziedzic 24yo in AAA. Rose through ranks at a good pace. AAA has been tough so far. Stuff is underwhelming but has a #5 profile
15 444 Dominique Taylor 22yo in A+. Not powerful tools, but has hit well in prior levels though not in A+. Needs to hit at every level to even remain on the radar. 4th OF peak likely
18 534 Frank Schwindel 23yo in A+. Might be able to stick at C. He's hit for some power.
20 594 Glenn Sparkman 23yo in AA. Totally mystery man turned legit prospect. Just started in the rotation mid-2014. Dark horse for a Royals rotation spot in a few years.

Grade: N/A

Still too soon to grade. Two of the Royals top 10 prospects are from this draft and Cody Reed may be knocking on the door for the 10th spot on the list.

The later round finds could be great values, even if they don't profile as high-impact players.


Round Overall Player Notes
1 5 Kyle Zimmer 23yo in AA. Oft injured; High potential...when pitching
2 66 Sam Selman 24yo in AAA. Finally in the bullpen. Still inconsistent
3 100 Colin Rodgers 21yo in A Ball. Trying to come back from Tommy John; Decent ceiling but needs reps
4 133 Kenny Diekroger 24yo in AAA. Hasn't hit at any level; off the radar completely
5 163 Chad Johnson 21yo in A Ball. Underwhelming results but tools aren't strong
6 193 Zach Lovvorn 21yo in A Ball. Command has gotten better, but K's are average
7 223 Fred Ford 22yo in A+. Hasn't hit really at any level for an extended period. Released in March
8 253 Alfredo Escalera 20yo in A Ball. Super athletic but raw. Power has come a bit this year and hitting 125 wRC+
9 283 Daniel Stumpf 24yo in AA. Converted to reliever last year. Decent returns but low ceiling
10 313 Alexis Rivera 20yo in A Ball. Toolsy favorite of mine but results have been poor.
Round Overall Player Others
22 673 Alec Mills 23yo in A+. Good command and decent arsenal. Not a high ceiling but on the radar a bit
37 1123 Jake Newberry 20yo in A Ball. Underwhelming stuff, but some okay results. In the stratosphere

Grade: D+

Basically everybody here is either a non-prospect or guys who are fringe prospects. Kyle Zimmer holds the entire class up and even he's a question mark. Say what you will about Zimmer, but he's probably the only player in this class that could have some impact on the Royals roster.


Round Overall Player Notes
1 5 Bubba Starling 22yo in AA. Inconsistent early on, but has hit really well to start the year before sidelined by a hamstring injury
2 65 Cam Gallagher 22yo in A+. Glove at catcher has gotten a bit better but he's not hitting very well. Ceiling seems like a backup catcher
3 95 Bryan Brickhouse 22yo in A/A+; yet to play this year after pitching some innings last year back from Tommy John. Velo is reportedly faster than pre-surgery. Likely reliever and would move him faster up the chain
4 126 Kyle Smith 22yo in AA. One of my favorite guys from a few years back; Traded to Houston in 2013
5 156 Patrick Leonard 22yo in AA. Traded to Tampa in the Wil Myers trade. Has hit better since moving, but strikeouts have gone up
6 186 Cesar Ogando Released by the Royals a few weeks back
7 216 Kellen Moen Released by the Royals in 2013; Played Indy ball in 2014
8 246 Evan Beal 21yo in A Ball. Reliever with some poor command but has gotten hitters out when not walking them
9 276 Aaron Brooks 25yo in AAA. Played 3 innings in the majors. AAAA or #5 starter perhaps but will likely yo-yo between AAA and MLB
10 306 Matt Murray 25yo in AA. Started some games, but will eventually move to a full bullpen role.
Round Overall Player Others
20 606 Terrance Gore 24yo in AA. Known for his late season heroics on the basepaths. Has been all speed/no hit, but has hit a bit this year, though old for the league.
24 726 Spencer Patton 27yo in MLB/AAA. Traded to the Rangers for Jason Frasor in 2014
29 876 Jake Junis 22yo in A+. A bit fringey at first but there are some positive reports and he's been good thus far in 2015.
30 906 Christian Binford 22yo in AA/AAA. Strong command guy; hit hard in AAA and will go back to AA. Still a #4/5 guy

Grade: D+/C-

At first, I thought this class was worse than 2012, but the back end saves it.  Binford is a legit top 10 prospect for the Royals and Gore has at least reached the MLB and profile to play in the majors at some level (even as a 4th outfielder in September). Patton became Frasor, who has been a good MLB reliever, and Junis' stock has been up a bit.

The top of this draft is worrisome. Four of the top seven are no longer in the system, Brickhouse had TJS but is kind of coming back, and Gallagher is a long shot to make the majors. That's without even mentioning Bubba Starling who we are all well aware of.

If Starling never actually gets anywhere near to his ceiling and flames out, it might be on the backs of Binford/Brickhouse/Gore to give some redemption to this class.


Round Overall Player Notes
1 4 Christian Colon 25yo in MLB. Carved out a role so far as utility IF. Didn't live up to the high floor as suggested when drafted
2 54 Brett Eibner 26yo in AAA. Repeating AAA but is hitting well. Power is plus but isn't really on the radar anymore
3 86 Michael Antonio Released after 2014 season. Now in Indy ball
4 119 Kevin Chapman 27yo in MLB. Traded to Houston for Jason Bourgeois and Humberto Quintero
5 149 Jason Adam 22yo in AAA. Former Royals top 10 guy; traded to the Twins for Josh Willingham
6 179 Scott Alexander 25yo in AAA. Late reliever for Omaha. LOOGY ceiling
7 209 Eric Cantrell Released by the Royals in April 2012
8 239 Michael Mariot 26yo in AAA. Reliever in Omaha with underwhelming stuff. Got some MLB innings in 2014
9 269 Whit Merrifield 26yo in AAA. Has hit at every level and our own Minda Haas loves him. Got some PT this Spring. Seems like he's on the short list of potential reserve guys to be called up.
10 299 Tim Ferguson Released by the Royals in October of 2013
Round Overall Player Others
13 389 Jon Gray REALLY WOULD HAVE BEEN GREAT TO SIGN THIS GUY. 3rd overall pick in 2013. Consensus top 20-30 prospect

Grade: D+

Colon has some value, and arguably might be the best pick from 2010, 2011, and 2012 at this point (which maybe says it all for those classes).

There's the AAAA or fringey prospects with Eibner, Merrifield, and Mariot and trade pieces in Chapman/Adams.

As mentioned, it's really hard to grade a draft in the first year or two, but the early 10's drafts we have some measure of and the results haven't been great.

The top few picks of 2013/2014 seem to be off to better starts than 2010/2011/2012, but of course that could change within a few months or a year.