The Royals have long relied on the draft to provide a cheap pipeline of talent, but since they signed free agent Ian Kennedy last winter, they have forfeited their first round pick in tonight's draft. The Royals have the 67th pick, the first time they will enter the draft without a first round pick since 1990.
What kind of player can you expect with the 67th pick? With the 67th pick, the New York Yankees took a lanky left-handed pitcher from Louisiana named Ron Guidry, a future four-time All-Star and Cy Young winner. With the 67th pick, the Chicago Cubs took a right-hander out of Western Illinois University named Rick Reuschel, who would go on to win 214 games. With the 67th pick, the California Angels took a slick-fielding first baseman from BYU named Wally Joyner, who would become a rookie sensation and an All-Star.
What about more recently? If recent drafts are any indication, if the Royals select wisely, they could end up with a very productive Major Leaguer. If not, they could end up with an anonymous name we will never hear from again. Here are some of the more recent 67th picks.
2011 - Cleveland selects P Dillon Howard
This is probably the most recent draft that has a lot of players that have reached the big leagues. With the 67th pick, the Indians took prep pitcher Dillon Howard, out of Searcy High School in Alabama. The right-hander impressed with a fastball in the low-to-mid-90s, and many mock drafts had him in the first round.
He's largely projection and arm strength, but his delivery is clean, repeatable and very promising.
He signed for $1.8 million, three times more than slot, but proved to be an epic bust. He pitched just 41 innings of pro ball with a 7.90 ERA, got suspended 50 games for amphetamines, and retired in 2013 after losing the desire to play baseball.
Players available with the next ten picks: Adam Conley, Daniel Norris, James McCann
2010 - Mariners select SS Marcus Littlewood
The Mariners were expected to take Littlewood with their first round supplementary pick, but the switch-hitting infielder from Pineview High School in Utah ended up falling to the second round.
He offers the potential of a plus defender at shortstop whose bat is above-average for the position. Littlewood has some of the best hands of any position player in this draft, college or high school.
Littlewood signed for $900,000, over $350k more than slot. Littlewood is still in the Mariners system, but has been largely disappointing, now playing in AA ball at age 24 as a catcher.
Players available with the next ten picks: Drew Smyly, Andrelton Simmons, Chad Bettis
2009 - Cardinals select C Robert Stock
Stock was supposed to be a first-round talent for the 2007 draft, but he decided instead to graduate high school a year early and head to USC. Despite a disappointing career at the plate as a catcher and a promising 2.90 ERA on the mound for the Trojans, Stock told teams he wanted to be a catcher in the pros. The Cardinals obliged him, selecting him 67th in 2009. Stock had a terrific first year in the minors, but quickly showed his bat was not pro quality. By 2012 he finally gave pitching a try, but only got as high as High A ball before the Cardinals let him go. Stock spent 2015 with the Pirates, but is now pitching in the independent Canadian-American Association.
Players available with the next ten picks: Stephen Matz, David Holmberg, J.R. Murphy
2008 - Tigers select P Cody Satterwhite
Satterwhite pitched in the rotation for Ole Miss, but most scouts felt he was destined to be a reliever in the pros. He signed with the Tigers for $600,000. He rose quickly and by 2009 was in AA with a 3.47 ERA in 49 1/3 relief innings. Then the injuries hit. He had labrum surgery in 2010, missing the entire season. After just ten innings in 2011, he had a second shoulder surgery. The Tigers let him go, where he ended up in the independent leagues, but he has resurrected his career and has a 1.80 ERA in AAA for the Angels this season.
Players available with the next ten picks: Charlie Blackmon, Tyler Chatwood, Bryan Shaw
2007 - Nationals select P Jordan Zimmermann
Finally, a success story! The Nationals selected Zimmermann near the beginning of the second round, one pick after the Royals selected pitcher Sam Runion. They chose him as compensation from the Cubs for losing outfielder Alfonso Soriano. Zimmermann hailed from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, a Division III program.
Zimmermann … throws a changeup with promising action and uses a loopy curveball as a fourth pitch. Zimmermann regularly touched 93-95 in the Northwoods League, and scouts expect him to show that velocity more often as he adds more strength to his 6-foot-2, 205-pound frame
Zimmermann excelled in the minor leagues and by 2009 he was in the big leagues. He won 19 games in 2013 and signed a $110 million contract with the Tigers last winter.
Players available with the next ten picks: Giancarlo Stanton, Jake Smolinski, Barry Enright
2006 - Astros select P Sergio Perez
Perez dominated Division II for the University of Tampa, tossing a no-hitter that spring. He featured a fastball in the low-90s, but had enough warts to fall to the second round, where the Astros scooped him up.
Perez struggles to repeat his delivery, which hinders his fastball command, although he has average control. He gets under his slider, showing it early and causing it to hang in the strike zone. His wide, thick frame doesn't offer much projection.
Perez put up underwhelming numbers as a minor leaguer, failing to strike out many hitters, but rose as high as AAA with the Astros before they released him. He spent a year with the Athletics organization before spending a few seasons in the independent Atlantic League.
Players available with the next ten picks: Justin Masterson, Jon Jay, Matt McBride
2005 - Rangers select 3B John Whittleman
The Rangers took Whittleman one pick after the Padres selected another third baseman, Chase Headley. Whittleman was a left-handed high school bat from nearby Houston who flashed decent power in the minor league and an ability to draw walks. However by 2010, he was hitting at the Mendoza Line in AA, and the Rangers dealt him to the Royals, where he served as organizational filler before retiring at age 25.
Players available with the next ten picks: Yunel Escobar, Nick Hundley, Kevin Slowey
2004 - Athletics select C Kurt Suzuki
I actually remember watching Cal-State Fullerton in the College World Series that spring and saying to myself "that catcher is going to end up in the big leagues." Suzuki hit .413 with 15 home runs his junior year while leading the Titans to a college championship. Suzuki steadily rose up the Athletics system, showing off their trademark plate discipline, before becoming Oakland's starting catcher in 2007. He has had a ten-year career thus far with the Athletics, Nationals, and Twins.
Players available with the next ten picks: Jason Vargas, Wade Davis, Scott Lewis