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Royals 2016 draft recap

Looking at all 40 (39) rounds

It's over. Starting at 7pm on Thursday and lasting until Saturday evening, the 2016 MLB draft is in the books. It's always a long, arduous process, especially since the last few rounds are just teams throwing names at the wall. Unfortunately for scouting directors, scouts, and evaluators though the preparation for the 2017 draft starts Monday.

With the draft complete, we can now look at all the players the Royals have selected.

First, the big board:

Round Pick# Player School Position Age BA Rank
2 67 AJ Puckett Pepperdine RHP 21 73
3 103 Khalil Lee Flint HS, VA CF 17 121
4 133 Jace Vines Texas A&M RHP 21 461
5 163 Nicky Lopez Creighton SS 21 401
6 193 Cal Jones Dadeville HS, AL CF 18 Unranked
7 223 Travis Eckert Oregon State RHP 22 Unranked
8 253 Chris DeVito New Mexico 1B 21 Unranked
9 283 Walker Sheller Stetson RHP 20 454
10 313 Richard Lovelady Kennesaw State LHP 20 Unranked
11 343 Vance Vizcaino Stetson CF 21 Unranked
12 373 Jeremy Gwinn Colby CC RHP 20 Unranked
13 403 Logan Gray Austin Peay 2B 21 169
14 433 David McKay FAU RHP 21 Unranked
15 463 Mike Messier Bellarmine LHP 21 Unranked
16 493 Nick Heath Northwestern State CF 22 Unranked
17 523 Dillon Drabble Seminole State College RHP 19 Unranked
18 553 Vance Tatum Mississippi State LHP 21 Unranked
19 583 Tyler Fallwell Cochise College RHP 20 303
20 613 Anthony Bender Santa Rosa JC RHP 21 Unranked
21 643 Griffin Dalton South Effingham HS, GA CF 18 Unranked
22 673 Cody Nesbit San Jacinto College North RHP 20 Unranked
23 703 Kort Peterson UCLA OF 22 313
24 733 Mike McCann Seattle University C 20 Unranked
25 763 Robby Rinn Bryant University 1B 23 Unranked
26 793 John Brontsema UC Irvine 3B 21 Unranked
27 823 Rex Hill TCU 3B 22 Unranked
28 853 Yordany Salva Broward College C 19 Unranked
29 883 Grant Gavin Univ. Central Missouri RHP 20 Unranked
30 913 Geoffrey Bramblett Alabama RHP 21 Unranked
31 943 Malcolm Van Buren Hanahan HS, SC RHP 17 Unranked
32 973 Luke Bandy Providence Classical Christian Academy CF 18 Unranked
33 1003 Kameron Misner Poplar Bluff HS, MO OF 18 Unranked
34 1033 Nathan Webb Lee's Summit North HS, MO RHP 18 Unranked
35 1063 MJ Sanchez Cal Baptist C 21 Unranked
36 1093 Alex Massey Tulane RHP 23 Unranked
37 1123 Justin Camp Auburn RHP 23 Unranked
38 1153 Joey Fregosi Murrieta Valley HS, CA SS 18 Unranked
39 1183 Chase Livingston Rhode Island C 22 Unranked
40 1213 Taylor Kaczmarek San Diego RHP 24 Unranked

Overall thoughts

After Friday afternoon I was a bit perplexed. I can kinda understand the first two picks. The Royals liked Puckett a bit more than the consensus perhaps but that wasn't necessarily my issue. Instead it was the talent still left on the board.

Connor Jones of Virginia was still on the board. Jones has better stuff than Puckett, came from a better program/conference, and was easily signable at 67th overall with a draft slot of ~$900K. The Cardinals would then take Jones 3 picks later at 70th overall.

That of course is only if they wanted a college pitcher. Outside of that there were plenty of strong prep bats left (something the Royals have taken with their first pick since Bubba Starling - so maybe that's why).

But okay...let's say they really liked Puckett but then I don't really understand the Lee pick either. First, the Royals stated that they are drafting him as a centerfielder. However most evaluators/scouts think he's better off on the mound (I'll talk more about this below). Even then there were still a bunch of good prep bats left that are just as signable as Lee.

Then with their next 7 picks the Royals took easy sign guys. This means two things:

1) They are worried about the signability of Puckett or Lee (that doesn't seem to be the case)

2) They were going to use their savings on a fallen top player.

So we had to wait for day three to see what it was they were really doing. The Royals have played slot games before when they took Hunter Dozier at 8th and used the savings to take Sean Manaea back in 2013.

Day three came around and passed and the Royals had made all their selections, but there was no top talent that they drafted really. Logan Gray was a top 200 player by Baseball America but there were guys that seemingly are just as signable as Gray left.

Jeff Belge

Cooper Johnson

Adam Laskey

Max Kranick

Hunter Bishop

Zach Lingenfelter

Now Gray is a college guy so he has less leverage but assuming all the unranked guys taken before Gray sign for less than slot (they all should sign for a good chunk less) they should have had ~$1M (maybe more) to play with on someone.

So needless to say I'm underwhelmed by this draft. Yes the Royals didn't have a huge pool but I don't think they've added much talent into the organization as far as we can tell right now (any Mookie Betts notwithstanding). Puckett won't be in conversation for the #1 prospect for the Royals and I wouldn't be surprised if he wasn't a top 5 guy (his impending results in Idaho Falls notwithstanding either).

AJ Puckett

I wrote about Puckett on Friday so for a more detailed look click the link. He's a right handed pitcher from Pepperdine. Puckett pitched in the Cape Cod League last summer where he was good not great but in his Junior year for the Waves he found his command. Puckett had a long scoreless streak (aided by BABIP some) and a 3:1 K:BB ratio.

I'm a bit hesitant on projecting what his pitches will be. His changeup is average or better now and his fastball is now average too after a velo bump up to 94 MPH this year. However I'm not sure what his curveball will be and we need to see his command for more than just a few months. Also keeping an eye on his velocity will be key because any loss there are we are looking at fringe average realm. He's got some very particular mechanics as well.


So the Royals actually signed Puckett for ~$300K overslot which really surprises me. I just don't see any leverage Puckett has to sign overslot.

Khalil Lee

The Royals surprised folks in a way on Friday with the selection of Lee. Dayton Moore specifically said the Royals were taking Lee as a centerfielder. This surprised Jim Callis and John Mayo of (who were live broadcasting each selection) as they and others were expecting a team to pop Lee as a pitcher.

Lee has a very strong arm and is just okay in centerfield with a move to right being possible. Meanwhile he has average power too and his frame should fill out a bit. The big question though is his ability to make contact. There is pretty good bat speed from the man so it may eventually work.

Jace Vines

Vines is the somewhat rare draft eligible sophomore, and playing for a good program in an elite conference means you have to have a good bit of raw talent. Vinces does but the results didn't match the stuff. Vines started the season off in the Aggies rotation but a five walk, five run, only one out recorded outing demoted him to the bullpen.

The stuff is just okay. Low-90's fastball, a just okay curveball, and a fringe average or so changeup. However his command plays all of it down. He worked multiple innings in games this year out of the bullpen so there's still the ability for him to start (which the Royals will do so) but he'll need to work on controlling his stuff. He doesn't have a wild delivery but there is some explosiveness in his arm as he delivers, which may lead to his iffy command.

It seems like given his sophomore results and profile, Vines will sign.

Nicholas "Nicky" Lopez

Lopez grew up in Chicago and attended Creighton where he earned Second Team All Big East honors this season as a Junior. Lopez hit .307/.417/.444 but was more known for his reputation as one of the best defenders in the conference.

Lopez is a high contact hitter without much power, similar to Alcides Escobar (for better or for worse).

Cal Jones

Jones was a two-sport athlete as a quarterback in high school and is the only draft pick from Dadeville since Josh Farrow in 1994. Jones has apparently already signed a deal with the Royals for an undisclosed amount for now, and he'll report to Arizona before being shipped off to his pro ball destination.

Jones is of course raw at the plate given his two sport focus and lack of strong competition in Alabama. However he hit .516, a .593 OBP,  and ten home runs.

Travis Eckert

Eckert put it all together his senior year in the Beaver rotation thanks to an increase in velocity, pumping it up to the mid-90's.

Eckert was the #1 starter for Oregon State this spring and was the only senior on the roster. He moved around a bit to start his collegiate career. After getting no scholarship offers from any D1 programs, he attended Temple College in Texas where he struggled. Then he moved on to Clark College in Washington where the nearby Beavers noticed him and offered him a spot on their roster.

Eckert has an above average fastball when it's hitting that mid-90's but his secondary pitches aren't quite there. His next best pitch is his changeup, but there is still some work to be done with his slider though he does have decent command. Eckert doesn't get many whiffs so at best he profiles as a back end guy.

Chris DeVito

DeVito is going to get a lot of love for his nickname: The Red Hercules but isn't solely all name. He features very good power and finished 2nd in the Mountain West in home runs. However he also played in an extremely hitter friendly home park in New Mexico. DeVito is a bat only prospect as he has near bottom of the scale speed and is relatively un-athletic. Questions also surround his ability to make contact so the hope is that his power will really have to play.

Walker Sheller

Sheller was the closer at Stetson and rode a good ERA (1.38) off of not so good peripherals (8.67 K/9 4.14 BB/9). Sheller has an underwhelming fastball (for a reliever) early in the spring before switching to long toss, building arm strength, and now getting up to the mid-90's.

Richard Lovelady

Lovelady worked out of the Kennesaw State bullpen this spring and finished 2nd all time in appearances for the Owls. Lovelady has a nice fastball but has a lack of secondary pitches. He was able to strike out Atlantic Sun batters in bunches but need some refinement of command too.

Vance Vizcaino

Vance was teammates with Walker Sheller at Stetson but played a little more regularly than his reliever comrade. Vizcaino played his freshman year at Tennessee but left baseball. The Royals drafted him in the 29th round in 2014 but he of course went on to Stetson. He's a tall, broad shouldered kid but there isn't much power in his game given his straight swing. Solid speed though for a guy his size, but I wonder if SS is actually an option for him.

Vance is the son of Royals scout Junior Vizcaino.

Jeremy Gwynn

Big sized right hander from Colorado but played locally at Colby Community College in Colby Kansas. He started 9 games for the Trojans and five of them were complete games. He struck out 104 batters and walked just 21. I don't have much on this guy, to be honest.

Logan Gray

Logan is a local kid who attended Rockhurst High School (anecdotally I'm getting my MBA from Rockhurst University) and went on to Austin Peay in Tennessee. Gray absolutely hit the Ohio Valley Conference, finishing his season with a .356/.454/.687 slash line and 12 home runs. That was coming off a sophomore season where he hit .366/.461/.752 with 14 home runs. A season that got him national attention. Gray has a little smaller size than you'd imagine someone with a .752 slugging percentage would, but he generates power in his aggressive swing. He has a bit of a grip it and rip it attitude so watching his ability to make contact will be key. Also there are questions on if he remains at 2B or moves to 3B.

David McKay

The Royals took Roman Collins out of FAU last year and went to that well again with McKay. He had Tommy John a few years back and is more pitchability than raw stuff with a high-80s/low-90s fastball and just okay secondaries. He was just okay at FAU and didn't generate many strikeouts but also didn't necessarily avoid walks either.

Mike Messier

I've literally never heard of Bellarmine University but not only does it exists but they also have a baseball team (Todd Wellemeyer played there). Messier was a PG All American during their summer circuit but lack of standout stuff makes him more of an org arm than anything intriguing, even from the left side.

Nick Heath

Heath is from Junction City, Kansas but made his way down to Northwestern State in Louisiana to play baseball. He is physically everything you want from an outfielder. Great build, tall, quick footed, and a strong arm. He could definitely sell jeans. Heath had an offer to play at Coffeyville CC but opted to play for a D1 program instead. Heath is an aggressive hitter but there is size in his profile and defensive competency that you squint and see a potential 4th outfielder.

Dillon Drabble

Drabble started off at Central Arkansas for a brief stint where he walked seven batters in six inning before landing at Seminole State. He was much better as a Trojan (82K's in 70 IP) and put on some additional size. It's a total mystery what he could become but that's what you get out of later round small college signs.

Vance Tatum

DeVito may have the best nickname among this Royals draft class, but don't count out Tatum who goes by Moonlight. He didn't dominate SEC batters this year but was more known for his stint this past summer with Hyannis (a team that featured first rounder Dakota Hudson) in the prestigious Cape Cod League.

There's some semblance of a crafty lefty in Tatum since he doesn't have very good stuff but he doesn't quite have the command either.

Tyler Fallwell

Royals had some success last year snagging a JuCo pitcher from Arizona when they took my man Josh Staumont from Azusa Pacific. Fallwell (your autocorrect is wrong, it is spelled Fallwell) absolutely pounds the zone and at 6'4" with long arms he gets good extension on his pitches with a long stride. He has a really laid back tempo and style on the mound and his mechanics are momentum based.

Anthony Bender

Bender is a bit of a project despite being a college guy. He's got a very good fastball but it's all generated by arm speed and there isn't much of a secondary arsenal to pair with it. He was awarded first team Big 8 as a reliever and gets up to the mid-90's with his fastball.

Kort Peterson

Other than having a great last name, Kort also has nice power built by his strong frame. However he has trouble getting that power into games because he's consistently swinging at pitches he shouldn't. He didn't strike out egregiously at UCLA but instead offered at bad pitches, making weak contact. He runs well for a guy his size and a corner outfield spot is a good bet. He's not like Brett Eibner (not nearly the defender) but has enough raw power and size that he could be a 4th outfielder/bench bat if it all works.


As of this moment I believe only the AJ Puckett signing is official but there are reports of others too.