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A primer to the MLB draft and Royals draft open thread

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It's finally here

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

In just a bit, we'll find out who will (hopefully) join the ranks of Royal prospectdom. The MLB draft is the only draft of the Big Four sports that takes place during the season, rather than after the preceding one. It's very strange in that sense, but it also makes sense. Unlike other sports, MLB prospects don't (normally) go straight to their drafted teams main roster, but instead spend generally 2-3 years in the minors, sometimes more. The lack of immediate impact for baseball prospects it what makes people disinterested in prospects sometimes, but for those interested it allows you to follow a player during his whole career leading up to and including the major leagues. You could enjoy watching Mike Trout turn into a star, something you aren't afforded with the other sports.

The draft takes place June 8-10 on MLB Network, with rounds one and two taking place tonight at 6 p.m. CT, rounds 3-10 taking place tomorrow at noon, and the remaining 30 rounds on Wednesday morning at 11 a.m. Since no trades are allowed, picks are typically made much quicker than in other sports drafts. After the first and second rounds there are "supplemental picks" as compensation for lost free agents as well as "competitive balance picks" given to certain lower revenue ballclubs. The 2015 draft order is here. The Royals will have the 21st, 33rd (for losing James Shields), and 64th pick today. The pool of players eligible to be drafted is described here:

Certain groups of players are ineligible for selection, generally because they are still in school. The basic categories of players eligible to be drafted are: High school players, if they have graduated from high school and have not yet attended college or junior college; College players, from four-year colleges who have either completed their junior or senior years or are at least 21 years old; and Junior college players, regardless of how many years of school they have completed

Major League teams have "draft pools" which limits how much money they can offer their top ten picks. The pool is based on the value of each teams's draft position. The Royals will have just under $7.5 million to offer their eleven picks.

PROJECTED POOLS
Astros $17,977,283
Rockies $14,549,880
Diamondbacks $14,176,076
Rangers $9,469,174
Braves $8,702,808
Yankees $8,205,043
Reds $8,094,981
Brewers $8,058,934
Orioles $7,986,953
Giants $7,820,504
Pirates $7,692,588
Twins $7,691,684
Cardinals $7,691,345
Cubs $7,547,609
Indians $7,528,625
Royals $7,499,358
Tigers $7,403,534
Phillies $7,363,080
Dodgers $7,235,955
Marlins $7,043,968
Rays $6,861,925
Red Sox $6,480,889
Athletics $5,668,645
Blue Jays $5,634,745
White Sox $5,540,051
Angels $5,418,011
Padres $5,393,603
Mariners $4,362,817
Mets $3,741,204
Nationals $3,697,360
TOTAL $232,538,632

Royals ($7,206,700)
No. Round Slot value
21 1 2,184,200
33 1 1,825,200
64 2 964,600
98 3 581,300
129 4 431,100
159 5 322,700
189 6 241,700
219 7 181,200
249 8 168,000
279 9 157,000
309 10 149,700

Below you'll find what is hopefully to be a compendium of various mock drafts leading up to tonight.

Baseball America:

May 8th

21. Royals

Kansas City was rumored to be considering Phil Bickford when he came out of high school in 2013, before gambling (successfully) on its Hunter Dozier/Sean Manaea gambit. This time, after a dominant year in junior college, Bickford is their man.

Selection: Phil Bickford, rhp, JC of Southern Nevada

May 17th

21. Royals

The Royals are said to be the floor for Randolph and Russell, and both are available in this scenario. Maturity concerns seem to be pushing Russell down draft boards a bit.

Selection: Cornelius Randolph, ss, Griffin (Ga.) HS

May 30th

21.

The Royals have not shied away from Boras Corp. clients in the past (Luke Hochevar, Mike Moutakas, Eric Hosmer, etc.), and would have several to choose from here. They're most consistently tied to Georgia prep infielder Cornelius Randolph, as long as a team ahead of them isn't lying in the weeds on the talented hitter.

Selection: Cornelius Randolph, ss, Griffin (Ga.) HS

33.

Kansas City likely won't get much of a discount with Randolph at 21, so a college signee here makes more sense.


Selection: Alex Young, lhp, Texas Christian

June 5th

21. Royals

Kansas City continues to be tied to Georgia prep infielder Cornelius Randolph, the draft's best bat. But they've also been linked strongly to Phil Bickford, whom they nearly selected in 2013, and he's on the board in this scenario.

Selection: Phil Bickford,rhp, JC of Southern Nevada

33. Royals: We're sticking with a portfolio approach here, but it has to shift to a bat after taking Bickford first this week.

Selection: Richie Martin, ss, Florida

June 8th

21. Royals

We haven't found a home for Randolph yet, so we're sticking with him here, understanding he has some late buzz. The Royals are said to be looking for a bat with their first pick, but this draft has had a run on them.

Selection: Cornelius Randolph, ss, Griffin (Ga.) HS

33. Royals: Kansas City values lefthanded pitching fairly heavily toward the top of the draft in recent years, from Sean Manaea (2012) to juco lefty Cody Reed (2013) to top picks in 2014 Brandon Finnegan and Foster Griffin.

Selection: Nathan Kirby, lhp, Virginia

Baseball Prospectus

May 11th

21. Kansas City Royals - Donny Everett, RHP, Clarksville HS (Tenn.)

Everett has a plus-plus fastball and an above-average breaking ball, but also has a strong commitment to Vanderbilt and delivery that borders on violent. If he's deemed "unsignable," Cornelius Randolph is the likely pick.

June 5th

21. Kansas City Royals - Kolby Allard, LHP, San Clemente HS (Calif.)
At least I think it's entertaining, anyway. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I don't understand the human psyche or what Joe Q. Public wants to read.

If Allard and Randolph are off the board and the draft plays out in this fashion, they likely go with Bickford.

33. Kansas City Royals - Donny Everett, RHP, Clarksville HS (Tenn.)

FanGraphs

May 28th

21. Royals - Phil Bickford, RHP, Southern Nevada JC (NV)

The Royals likely would've taken Bickford two years ago if the Blue Jays didn't, so this always seemed like the lowest landing spot for Bickford all spring. The Royals have also been on Cornelius Randolph all spring, but I don't think he'll get past the middle of the round, despite bonus demands that may scare off some teams.

June 8th

21. Royals - Kyle Funkhouser, RHP, Louisville

They'd love to get Cornelius Randolph here and would take him if he makes it. Nate Kirby and Ashe Russell will get looks and Bickford has long been tied here, but should slide to their next pick. Funkhouser recouped some value sitting 92-93 and hitting 96 mph in his last outing after a month-long slide into the high-80's.

33. Royals - Nate Kirby, LHP, Virginia

I've heard them with Jacob Nix, Triston McKenzie, Eric Jenkins and Chad Smith at this pick, but they're taking a look at Kirby with their first pick, so this is solid value. Some teams are worried about Kirby's lat strain, calling it more of a tear, but some teams are more comfortable with it.

Scout.com

May 8th

21. Phil Bickford

Bickford is another player I am not sure what to make of. He is all over draft boards at this point. Bickford is undersized and has two pitches but he has the pedigree of being a former high pick and he throws hard. He's a real love-or-hate type of guy, it seems. The Royals have no issues with undersized arms. I am going to have people saying this is way too low or too high and none saying it's right.

Alonzo Jones

Jones has been hurt and missed a lot of time this spring. He could easily end up in the second round or even fall far enough to go to college. I have him going to the Royals because, as an organization, they value speed. The fastest player in this draft is Jones, who some have compared to Billy Hamilton. He would have been a first day lock if he had been healthy.

June 1st

Phil Bickford

Bickford is another player who has been linked to the Royals many times. He was on their draft radar out of high school and was nearly the selection that year. I am not as down on Bickford as I was earlier this year. He made a very smart decision finding a way to be draft-eligible in 2015, as this year is a much weaker class than next year. He is a big kid with big velocity. I worry he might be a reliever because his third pitch needs a ton of work. There is some big upside but I would still bet on him being a reliever long term.

Alonzo Jones

The Royals love speed. They have made a unique team based on defense and speed and it has worked. The best pure speed in this draft is Jones. I am not sure if he can stick at second base but I see no reason not to give him every chance to play there. He has been a forgotten man with all of the other prep players emerging in Georgia. I think he still sneaks in the top-50 and the Royals make a lot of sense for him here. He reminds so many people of Billy Hamilton.

June 7th

21. Kansas City Royals - Phil Bickford RHP Southern Nevada

Bickford was a player the Royals were in on back in the 2013 draft. They get another chance to draft him here. He is one of the players who could conceivably be used as a bullpen arm to help a team that is contending late in the year.

33. Kansas City Royals - Ke'Bryan Hayes 3B Concordia Lutheran HS (TX)


The Royals have been tied to multiple prep third basemen. Hayes is one of them and makes sense value-wise here.

64. Kansas City Royals - Alonzo Jones 2B Columbus HS (GA)


The Royals have built a team with speed and defense. No one in this draft as more speed than Jones, it is a legit 80-grade tool.

98. Kansas City Royals - Ryan McKenna OF St. Thomas Aquinas HS (NH)

MLB.com

May 8th

21. Kansas City Royals

James Kaprielian, RHP, UCLA

Kaprielian is the epitome of the college performer, a starting pitcher who really knows his craft and has fared well at a top-notch program, albeit without wow stuff. College arms getting it done tend to be on the rise as the Draft approaches.

May 29th

21. Kansas City Royals

Cornelius Randolph, SS, Griffin (Ga.) HS


The Royals could decide to go arm here if Kaprielian is in play, or if Louisville's Kyle Funkhouser or College of Southern Nevada's Phil Bickford are still available. If they want a bat, Randolph is one of the better pure ones in the class, one that should profile even if he moves to third.

33. Kansas City Royals


Jake Woodford, RHP, Plant (Fla.) HS


Woodford, the teammate of Kyle Tucker, is a big, strong right-hander with some upside and a live fastball. His name has started popping up in the tail end of the round, from Pittsburgh on down.

June 5th

21. Kansas City Royals

Cornelius Randolph, SS, Griffin (Ga.) HS
Randolph's talent as a hitter merits going before No. 21, and he shouldn't get past the Royals. They also like high school arms and almost took Bickford with the eighth overall choice in 2013.

33. Kansas City Royals (compensation for loss of free agent James Shields)


Austin Smith, RHP, Park Vista Community HS (Lake Worth, Fla.)

Austin Smith will typically sit in the low-90s, but has shown the ability to reach back for more in shorter outings
A year after drafting a Florida high school pitcher (Foster Griffin) in the first round, the Royals could travel that route again. They've been associated with Smith and Royal Palm Beach (Fla.) High right-hander Triston McKenzie.

Minor League Ball.com

May 15th

21. Kansas City Royals

Chris Betts, C, CA HS

The Royals pick low enough in this draft, they can't do anything too fancy, like they have in the past. I expect them to take the best player available, and that could be Chris Betts, the power hitting catcher.

Through the Fence

May 1st

21. Kansas City Royals — Nathan Kirby, LHP, Virginia

Kirby has been slipping this spring, mostly because of his command and drop in velocity. The 6'-3" southpaw has shown three above-average offerings in the past including a plus change-up and slider that flashes plus but he hasn't been the same pitcher as he was at the start of the season. He also recently suffered a lat strain that will cause him to miss the rest of the season and he likely will not be able to throw before the draft. The good news is the track record is great and he could turn out to be a steal if he falls this low.

May 19th

21. Kansas City Royals — Garrett Whitley, OF, Niskayuna HS

Whitley was soaring over the last month but has leveled off a bit lately. He has some of the best tools among the prep bats, and he is a terrific athlete with a lot of upside. At 6'-2" and 200 pounds, the right-hander has raw power to all fields, as well as an advanced approach at the plate. His speed grades out as plus and his arm is strong enough to hold down any outfield spot. He was a beast on the summer circuit and continued to impress this spring. Committed to Wake Forest.

33. Kansas City Royals — Justin Hooper, LHP, De La Salle HS (CA)

Hooper has the type of future stuff scouts dream of. At 6'-7" and 230 pounds, the southpaw has the frame to be an intimidating force on the bump. He can also touch 96 mph, which is silly from the left side. He doesn't maintain velocity, however, and his command can get the best of him at times. His secondary offerings are average but show promise, but the upside is there for a team willing to pay a little extra. As a junior, he had 58 K/35 BB over 44.2 innings. This season, he had 56 K/25 BB over 40 innings. Committed to UCLA.

64. Kansas City Royals — Cole Sands, RHP, North Florida Christian HS (FL)

June 8th

21. Kansas City Royals — James Kaprielian, RHP, UCLA

The 6'-4" right-hander has shown increased velocity of late, sitting 92-95 mph with his heater. That is what scouts have been wanting to see, and he couldn't have picked a better time to show it. He already is a polished pitcher with great mound presence and good command of his stuff. Aside from the fastball, he features a plus curveball and solid change-up. Through 16 starts, he has a 2.03 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 114 K/35 BB over 106.2 innings. Great track record here and outstanding character.

33. Kansas City Royals — Blake Trahan, SS, Louisiana Lafayette

Yet another talented shortstop in a class deep on them, Trahan is a slick-fielding defender who seems to slow the game down. He has all the tools to stick there and he also has a great track record of hitting. He hit .355/.455/.465 as a sophomore and hit .332/.448/.438 this spring. He has an advanced approach at the plate and has good speed but isn't a great base stealer having gone 30-for-50 the last two seasons.

Keith Law

May 21

21. Phil Bickford

SCHOOL: College of Southern Nevada

Analysis: The Royals had great success with their first-round pick last year, taking TCU lefty starter Brandon Finnegan and using him in their major-league bullpen in September and the playoffs; they could do the same with Bickford, who can reach the upper 90s in relief, this fall.

May 28th

21 Phil Bickford

SCHOOL: College of Southern Nevada

Analysis: I've heard this connection numerous times, and Bickford -- who went ninth overall in 2013 but didn't sign -- could follow the Brandon Finnegan path to the big leagues as a reliever later this year.

June 4th

21 Chris Betts

SCHOOL: Wilson High School (Long Beach, Calif.)

Analysis: They're all over the map, including Bickford (who seems destined to go in this range), Harris, Randolph and even Cameron. It's too varied for me to think anything is accurate.

June 8th

21 Kolby Allard

SCHOOL: San Clemente (Calif.) High School

The Royals seem open to any type of player, but I've heard them linked to the injury guys more than most other clubs in this part of the draft. They were also on Phil Bickford earlier in the spring, but that seems to have cooled, and they're probably Donny Everett's highest landing spot.