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Potential 2016 MLB Draft picks for the Royals

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Who will fall to the 67th pick?

Tyson Alger/The Oregonian

As we continue our coverage of the upcoming draft for the Royals, I will continue to remind you that the Royals have no first round pick, due to the forfeiture of it for signing Ian Kennedy . Instead their first pick will come at 67th overall, at the back end of the second round. The Royals did not receive a competitive balance lottery pick - which would have given them either a pick immediately after the first or second round. So goes the fallout of success.

Earlier I presented a few strategies on the draft in regards to what the Royals could do, how their money could be allocated, and how they could acquire an earlier pick.  Assuming nothing changes from now until draft day on June 9th, the Royals are in line to get two types of players - someone with a talent level regarded in the range of their pick or a premium-esque player who fall due to signability concerns. I listed a few such players in my article from last week.

I say "premium-esque" because the truly elite players from the class are going to go early and sign. The potential #1 overall pick doesn't fall to #67 on the day of the draft because his draft stock is already priced in he wouldn't be the potential #1 pick. What often does happen though is a very high caliber player (anecdotally, it generally seems to be a pitcher) in the range of the 20-30th best player will drop. These players are almost exclusively high school players with a strong commitments to a powerhouse Division I college baseball program.

The last few drafts have a new system which allocates a team's money into pools specified by their number of picks and where those picks are located. One of my favorite things about the new system is that the #1 overall pick will never receive full slot. There is absolutely no incentive for the team to offer that. Instead what they do is offer the player slightly more than the full slot of the second overall pick. This makes sense because s the best the player could do if he turned down the #1 pick offer would be whatever the #2 pick slot is (give or take how much money the #2 pick would want to go over).

For instance last year the Diamondbacks had the #1 pick with a slot value of $8.6M. They took Dansby Swanson #1 overall and paid him $6.5M, roughly $275K more than the Rockies pick at #2 (technically the Astros had the 2nd pick due to their compensation for not signing Brady Aiken but they had a very specific draft plan). This has a waterfall effect down the line. The team with the #3 pick offers their pick just over the slot value of the #4 pick and so on. Eventually though there is a tipping point where players decide that their worth is more than the next picks slot value. Usually that happens in the later half of the first round (as kids generally don't turn down multi-million dollar deals).

We saw that with Kyle Funkhouser last year (who I'll talk more about later). Baseball America ranked Funkhouser the fourth-best draft prospect but teams didn't see him quite that high given his risk (which again I'll clarify later) and he fell to the Dodgers at 35. Funkhouser was probably going into draft day expecting to clear $3-4M as being taken anywhere in the top 10 guarantees you of that. Instead the Dodgers could only afford to offer him ~$1.8M including overage penalties and Funkhouser decided to return to Louisville for his senior year.

This is where the Royals have some capacity to play if when you look at my strategy from last week's article. Really at max, the Royals could offer whomever they take a 67th overall ~$2M. Anything above that and they might be pressing their luck to stay under budget. Any pick not signed in the first ten rounds means a team forfeits that money from their overall pool). That would give them ~$2M for their first pick, $600K for their second pick, $300K for their third pick, then so on down to their 9th and final pick that's tied to slot values.

Having said all of that I feel like it's worthwhile looking at some possible guys who could either fall to the Royals or are likely to be around at the Royals range still due to their respected talent levels (which we'll be using Keith Law's Top 100, MLB.com's Top 100, and Baseball America's Top 500)

Drew Mendoza - LH 3B Lake Minneola HS, FL

ESPN: 88th MLB: 28th BA: 43rd

Shortstops are basically the default position for the best fielder on the team which leads to a lot of shortstops moving off the position once they turn pro. Mendoza shares those same concerns and may profile more as a third baseman. Drew features a potential 55/50 hit/power tool with a strong arm at the hot corner, but has been dinged for his lackadaisical play and a commitment to Florida State.

Alec Hansen - RHP Oklahoma

ESPN: 35th MLB: 64th BA: 37th

Hansen falling to the Royals might be a bit optimistic, since he is likely to go earlier, but on any given day there is a different opinion of him. On Friday of last year you would have seen him dominate near 100 MPH fastball, excellent slider, and a changeup that flashed above average to plus. This lead Hansen to being a potential first overall pick coming into the spring of 2016. Then everything took a step backwards. He lost all his control, walked everyone in sight, had forearm soreness, and was mercifully demoted to a stint of bullpen duty in March (he is now back in the rotation). The Royals don't have a good track record of developing starting pitching, but the only thing that really needs to come around for him to be a viable mid-rotation or better pitcher is reigning in his command.

Jesus Luzardo - LHP Douglas HS, FL

ESPN: 42nd MLB: 81st BA: 49th

Luzardo was regarded highly as an advanced prep lefty and scouts really perked their ears up when he came out with mid-90's velocity. Jesus may have been overthrowing his fastball, and that may or may not have contributed to him having to undergo Tommy John surgery in March. He is a well sized guy and his normal velocity is probably going to be more low-90's than the 95 MPH he was pumping pre-surgery. Any team taking Luzardo is going to buy into the pre-surgery pitcher as being worth the risk. He is committed to Miami.

Cole Ragans - LHP North Florida Christian HS, FL

ESPN: 55th MLB: 74th BA: 56th

Another Florida State commit, Ragans is the mold that all teams want their prep pitchers to be. 6'3", 190 lbs, a fastball that is gaining in velocity, and swirling optimism for his changeup. There is a lot to like with Ragans to be sure. However evaluators aren't fully over the moon with him just yet. If he isn't taken early enough he could go to college, develop even further with a premium coaching staff, and find himself in the conversation for #1 overall perhaps in a few years. The other concern with Cole is his arm angle. His over-the-top delivery though worries evaluators about the future development of his changeup due to potential lack of horizontal movement.

Kyle Funkhouser - RHP Louisville

ESPN: N/R MLB: N/R BA: 92nd

I promised some information on Funkhouser so I must deliver. As you can see in his rankings, he doesn't look so hot. He drastically fallen off the map since last year. Everything has backed up: stuff, velocity, command, you name it. When you play the game of slots, you win or you die get less money in the next draft. For Funkhouser, this will be the case. There are some reports though of Funkhouser coming back to life recently.

The median-worst case scenario for Funk is a power reliever with a ceiling of a lights out closer with a bit of loose command. The median-best case scenario is a #3 starter but I'd take the latter over the former likely given his track record (though I'll hedge my bet and say that that doesn't mean I think that's what will happen).

Ben Rortvedt - RH C Verona HS, WI

ESPN: 53rd MLB: 52nd BA: 69th

Truth be told I love Rortvedt even though I shouldn't. There may not be a worse draft day investment than prep catchers and Rortvedt might not even be a catcher. Then add in that Ben is from Wisconsin, a notoriously bad place for prep talent. Oh yeah...and he's old for his class. Those are three red flags, but still Rortvedt is probably the best prep catcher in the draft though. He has great bat speed, above-average power, and the bat control/ability to make contact consistently right now. The hit tool might not be plus but it is not unreasonable to project a 50/55 hit/power tool from him. If he stays behind the plate, he's an All-Star, and he has a near plus arm to boot. Concerns to stay behind the dish though are rooted on the receiving end rather than gunning out runners. A 50/50 (maybe less) chance to stay as a catcher and a commitment to Arkansas make his signability murky.

Bryson Brigman - RH SS San Diego

ESPN: 63rd MLB: 67th BA: 81st

My Achilles heel in drafts are second baseman with above-average hit tools and some speed. I loved Forrest Wall and Ian Happ in the previous drafts and my enamoration continues with Bryson Brigman. I recognize that he is not an elite talent but I like what he offers at 67th potentially. Brigman moved off second base at San Diego to allow 2015 first rounder Kyle Holder to play there. Bryson has the range/speed/quickness to play shortstop but not the arm, which is not a concern for second. Brigman can and has hit. He's dominated pitching for both Team USA and San Diego, barreling everything to project potentially for a plus hit tool. There is very little power and maybe you can squint a bit and see his strong hit tool playing up the power half a grade, but it's unlikely. There's a possibility for him to play 2B, SS (in a pinch), LF or CF for a team and given his bat and speed, that'll work.

Bo Bichette - RH 2B Lakewood HS, FL (Homeschooled)

ESPN: 52nd MLB: 87th BA: 54th

You may recognize the last name, Bichette. Maybe because he's the younger brother of Dante Bichette Jr (who was drafted 51st overall by the Yankees last year) but you probably know his dad (Dante Bichette Sr.) instead. Dante Sr. was an average or so regular for the Rockies for a little more than a decade in the 90's. Bichette has his own path though. Rather than play outfield like his dad or third like his brother, Bo plays second. His calling card is his electric bat speed and raw plus power (especially to his pull side) but that comes with one big caveat: his swing.

Huge load, with a lot of noise, and a massive arm bar leave questions of a longer swing that might not be able to shorten up to better velocity. Some scouts/teams think despite the ugliness he could make it work but the question is how much? Say he does get by with it, is there enough there to project an above average hit tool? There is the bat speed and great raw power in his profile still. He's also not much of a runner and he doesn't have a gifted arm so he'll end up at second most likely. It's not a bunch of plus tools, and squinting your eyes you could maybe see three average or better tools (hit, power, defense). Bichette has a commitment to Arizona State so he's probably likely to go there unless he gets paid well.

Hunter Bishop - LH OF Junipero Serra HS, CA

ESPN: 28th MLB: 65th BA: 91st

Hunter Bishop has had an odd path to prospectdom. Whoever takes him is either going to probably have a huge bust on their hands or a very good player. He was more well known as a football recruit for Washington then toured Arizona State's baseball facilities and switched his commitment. He did not get a lot of looks as a baseball player until recently, and the looks they did get weren't against top-tier prep pitching. Now scouts can't see enough of him and it may be too late to get a full beat on what you are getting. He is a prototypical multi-sport football/baseball convert: athletic, fast, and raw. There are gains to be made in most of his game and especially at the plate. However there is an excellent mold to sculpt from. He's 6'5" 200 lbs, very fast foot speed, and a quick twitch. If an organization believes in their ability to develop a raw hitter, they'll take him in the first two rounds, otherwise he'll make his way to Tempe to hone his skills and be a bigger name in 2019.

Akil Badoo - LH OF Salem HS, GA

ESPN: 94th MLB: 66th BA: 60th

When you are a prep hitter from Georgia and you have any talent, you are gonna get noticed. Akil has been known for a bit given his current tools. He's still a little raw at the plate but there is a good swing from the left side and scouts could project him to be 50/50 at the plate. Combine that with plus speed and average or better defense in centerfield, and you've got Akil Badoo; potential All-Star. He doesn't have that strong of an arm so it's likely center field or left field for his final destination, but there is enough bat potentially to work at either. He's not as raw as Bishop above. I'm a fan of the package he offers and there's enough to see at least a fourth outfielder. He is committed to Kentucky.

Matt Krook - LHP Oregon

ESPN: N/R MLB: 68th BA: 55th

Krook was drafted 35th overall in 2013 but opted to go to school in Oregon instead due to a dispute. The Marlins and Krook agreed to a deal but that fell through after the Marlins reported he failed his post-draft physical. The Marlins likely offered him a slot bonus of $1.5M, Krook agreed, his physical revealed questions about his shoulder, and the Marlins dropped their offer to $650K. The Marlins may have been right about the shoulder but that isn't what will push Krook to the Royals perhaps. Instead his elbow flared up and he underwent Tommy John surgery, missing all of 2015.

Krook returned to the mound in April and has been good and bad at times. His command has been very shaky and it worsens when he tries to let his full fastball fly. Somewhere in there there's a plus slider, curveball, and fastball with a changeup that projects for average. Out there currently though is a pitcher with consistent command issues, and pitches that don't match up on the same day. He's hands down a frontline pitcher if things click. Krook is a redshirt sophomore so he isn't in urgency to sign if the right offer doesn't come along, but depending on where he goes his stock may not get much higher even after returning to Eugene.

Logan Shore - RHP Florida

ESPN: 68th MLB: 40th BA: 34th

Teammate AJ Puk will likely go in the top five picks of this draft and he's much more heralded than Shore, but Shore has been starting Friday nights (the premium spot) for the Gators since he was a freshman. Puk is a better prospect but Shore has a better track record and results. He's not as flashy as his teammate and doesn't feature nearly the same stuff. Instead Shore's best pitch is his changeup (a plus offering currently) and he'll use it consistently to lefties, getting results even if they know it's coming. His fastball isn't high velocity but in the low-90's with some life, he pounds the zone with all his pitches. You'll hear "pitchability" when people speak about Shore and that's who he is. An excellent, smart pitcher who throws strikes, command his pitches, and has a good arsenal. Teams may see lack of explosiveness in his tools/profile which will drive down his stock. Puk will go first, but don't be surprised if Shore ends up with the better career.

Quick Hits

Thomas Jones - RH OF; Laurens HS, SC

ESPN: 85th MLB: 55th BA: 61st

Football star with offers to Notre Dame, South Carolina, Clemson, and others. Extremely fast, above average defender, strong arm. Still raw at the plate but projectable body that could have above average power with an average hit tool. Committed to Vanderbilt.

Conner Capel - LH OF; Seven Lakes HS, TX

ESPN: 92nd MLB: 75th BA: 62nd

Very athletic Texan and son of former big leaguer Mike Capel. Plus runner, above average defender, above average arm. Projectable hit tool but lacks plus bat speed and swing plane is more downward than even/lofted. Power may never come but a 50 hit, 65 runner, 55 arm, 50 defense in center is an intriguing package. Committed to Texas.

Daulton Jefferies - RHP; California

ESPN: 73rd MLB: 45th BA: 50th

Very good command of three average pitches with a changeup that's the best. There's a low-90's fastball that he can pump up to 95 MPH as well. Biggest knock on him is his size; he's 6'0" 180 lbs.

Cooper Johnson - RH C; Carmel Catholic, IL

ESPN: 33rd MLB: 72nd BA: 65th

Johnson will get comps to Austin Hedges given their similar profiles. Johnson is a very defensive minded catcher, and likely the best of the class (in regards to defense). Huge arm, strong receiver, good movements, he's a lock to stay behind the dish. Big questions though on his bat and neither the hit nor power may even be average. Committed to Mississippi.

Matt Thaiss - LH C; Virginia

ESPN: 27th MLB: 33rd BA: 28th

Thaiss could easily be a first rounder if a team thinks he could stick at the backstop but that's not the most likely scenario. The normal fallback option of 1B might be out of the question too as he doesn't have the power for the position. Instead, he's got a near plus hit tool and will be a good source for doubles power. He's got zero speed and a less than stellar arm so left field might not happen either. Catching is thin in this draft so someone could pop Thaiss early and hope it works, otherwise he should still be around at 67 for the Royals.

Ryan Boldt - LH OF; Nebraska

ESPN: 43rd MLB: 49th BA: 73rd

Boldt is extremely fast and has the skills/instincts to stay in centerfield. Concerns are with his low angle swing and lack of pull instinct that will be exploited at the upper levels. Some evaluators love the opposite field approach despite average power while others see too many groundballs due to his swing (something that maybe could have been fixed had he signed out of high school rather than ingrain the swing in college) and shy at even putting a 45/45 profile at the plate.

Lucas Erceg - LH 3B; Menlo College (CA)

ESPN: 46th MLB: 58th BA: 76th

Erceg plays 3B for Menlo but has also been their closer thanks to a strong arm, but he'll be drafted as a 3B. He was forced to transfer from Cal-Berkeley due to academic issues and made his way to NAIA Menlo where he has been one of the best hitters in the division, but not quite as good as you'd expect a Pac-12 transfer to do. There's plus power, a plus arm, and average defense, but questionable mechanics make his hit tool potentially only a 45. If Erceg goes early it's because a team thinks the Cal-Berkeley hitter can return.

Dane Dunning - RHP; Florida

ESPN: 59th MLB: 60th BA: 75th

Another Florida pitcher expected to go on day one, Dunning however has been relegated to the bullpen because of the better talent in front of him. He has the stuff and ability to start however. Teams would have liked to see more from Dunning out of the rotation, but are confident that he fastball/changeup combo (both potentially above average to plus) with decent command will shine.

Chris Okey - RH C; Clemson

ESPN: 56th MLB: 53rd BA: 52nd

Okey gets a lot of love for his leadership but he can also hit a bit and is strong enough defensively to stay a catcher. There isn't a standout tool but it isn't unreasonable to project 50's across the board.

Brandon Marsh - LH OF; Buford HS, GA

ESPN: 61st MLB: 70th BA: 59th

Two-sport athletes always seem to be the pop-up spring guy who shoots up draft boards and they focus a bit more on baseball. Like most of his football-baseball cohort, he's a plus runner, plus arm, and a plus defender (with potential to play center), with very good size and strength. Taking Marsh means you are confident in his ability to focus on strictly baseball and raise his develop his hit tool. If that happens, and the tool reaches average, then you could be looking at 50/50/60/55/60; that's an awesome package. Committed to Kennesaw State.

Jeff Belge - LHP; Henninger HS, NY

ESPN: 37th MLB: N/R BA: 70th

Prep pitchers from New York are few and far between (the Royals have one in Scott Blewett). Belge is a huge pitcher listed at 6'4" 235 lbs and he's intimidating on the mound. There is an interesting story with Belge too. Twice in his life now he's suffered severe injuries to his right eye; once as a child and again last year. Belge's velocity has been inconsistent but he recently had a big start that he pitched very well in front of a dozen or so scouts. His injury has left him essentially blind in his right eye, but hey it's working fine for Julio Urias. Committed to St John's.

Skylar Szynski - RHP; Penn HS, IN

ESPN: 75th MLB: 62nd BA: 88th

If you are a prep pitcher from Indiana in the next few drafts you are going to get compared to Royals 1st rounders Ashe Russell and Nolan Watson. Szynski doesn't feature the same velocity and arm strength as them (especially Russell) but he's got a better present pair of secondary pitches in his changeup and curveball. There are consistency issues in his command but if he irons those out then you could see a #3 ceiling. Committed to Indiana.

Heath Quinn - RH OF; Samford

ESPN: 88th MLB: 57th BA: 47th

Quinn was among the DI leaders in home runs this year, knocking 19 out of the park. He also performed very well this past summer in the Cape Cod League. His calling card of course is his power but his other tools are average as well for the most part. He's a decent runner, defender in right, and a strong arm. The only tool that will likely settle below average is his hit tool due to some holes in his swing. He takes his walks however and it's not hard to project a 45 on the hit tool, making him a solid regular.

Okay. I gave you 25 prospects. Most likely the Royals won't draft any of these guys and you'll just be more informed on other teams prospects. So covering the draft goes. If you want to read more, below I've compiled a list of potential players who the Royals could see available at their pick. Some of them I've covered above, others I haven't. Perhaps I'll write up some more, but my next article (due out next week likely) will cover the top end talent and names to know for the draft.