A few weeks back I covered the Royals draft bonus pool and where they will be picking as a primer for this June. After forfeiting their first round pick last year, they’ll have the #14 overall pick, #52nd overall pick, and then #73rd overall pick due to the competitive balance lottery. From there they’ll pick 15th in each remaining round.
There will be plenty more draft coverage to come (it’s one of my favorite days of the year and I usually take off work for it as well to celebrate). For now though we’ll just quickly look at players who fit the profile that the Royals organization likes under the current scouting director (Lonnie Goldberg). In the coming month I’ll have write ups of guys specifically that you’ll need to know, but think of this as just some names that the Royals likely have at the top of their draft board due to their profiles.
Toolsy Prep Outfielders
This organization loves a good athlete. That’s what supposedly attracted them to Lorenzo Cain so much and is a huge reason why they’ve taken guys like Bubba Starling and Khalil Lee. Cain ended up being a star level player, Starling is almost or already arguably the biggest draft bust in history (a hot take perhaps but given how much he was paid is relevant), and Lee has been good so far in his short professional time. Some teams are able to turn these types of raw tool young guys into solid MLB players (the Rangers jump to mind). That remains to be seen with this org but it’s likely something they’ll target.
Royce Lewis (JSerra Catholic HS, CA)
Not likely to be around when KC picks but is the best prep hitter in the draft with four present average or better tools and you can dream on the power coming as he fills out.
Cal Mitchell (Rancho Bernardo HS, CA)
Mitchell is a LF only guy given that he doesn’t have the speed for center nor the arm for right field. Still though the bat looks like a good starting point for a prep guy and he’ll grow into more power.
Jordon Adell (Ballard HS, KY)
Going to be a lot of Buxton comps for Addell but he isn’t going to go as high as Buxton and Buxton was the better prospect to begin with. Adell isn’t that far off from Buxton but the hit tool is the biggest question.
Garrett Mitchell (Orange Lutheran HS, CA)
I promise Garrett is of no relation to Cal, and also that not every prep outfielder is from California; that just happens to be the hotbed of all hotbeds for prep prospects. I’m drawing a blank on a comp for Mitchell. He’s well sized for a guy who is more speed than hit, but there’s solid raw power and the opportunity to access it.
Mitchell’s stock is “low” due to the fact that he has Type I Diabetes.
Drew Waters (Etowah HS, GA)
Waters is a switch hitter and is part of the second best prep hotbed in Georgia (where he is committed to UGA). Waters has the ability to stay in centerfield give his above average speed/defense. He’s also a switch hitter with the potential for an average power and hit tool.
Quentin Holmes (Monsignor McClancy Memorial HS, NY)
Holy moley you want the Royals archetype of a dream outfielder, Holmes is pretty close. He’s probably the fastest guy in this draft (70 to 80 grade speed drops). His speed allows him to be a very good defender and stick in center. At his peak you could see 50+ steals a year and +20 runs defensively in CF. There is a question on how the hit tool will come around and there isn’t likely to be much power, but if he can turn into a 50 hit tool, you could have a dynamic leadoff hitter.
It seems like every year the Royals are good for at least a couple early round prep pitchers. They took two back-to-back with their first picks in 2015 with Ashe Russell and Nolan Watson. In 2014 they took two in the first four rounds with Foster Griffin and Scott Blewett. 2013 saw Carter Hope taken in the 3rd round. 2012 was Colin Rodgers in the 3rd, and 2011 was Bryan Brickhouse and Kyle Smith in the 3rd/4th. These picks haven’t really turned into the players they wanted to (which is a whole ‘nother article) but it seems like the org is intent on giving it a go each year.
Hunter Greene (Notre Dame HS, CA)
Barring some huge injury, Greene absolutely won’t be around when the Royals pick as he’s arguably the best talent in the draft. However he might not go 1.1 as he’s shutting himself down from pitching for the year in a move to reportedly make Minnesota and Cincinnati (the holders of the first two picks) pass on him and hopefully stay in California with the Padres who pick at 3.
Greene is one of the most athletic players in the draft and teams will have to decide if he’s a SS or pitcher. If he’s a SS then you are getting a guy with potential for five tools, a few of them already present. If he’s a pitcher then it’s a mid-90’s fastball, above average breaking ball with good present control.
Blayne Enlow (St. Amant HS, LA)
If the best prep hitters come from California then the best prep pitchers come from the south east. Enlow greats rave for his curveball and I’ve seen present 60’s on it.
His velo is reportedly down this spring a bit so it’s likely he’s still around for KC at #14 and possibly even at #52 if the velo doesn’t tick back up through outings.
D.L. Hall (Valdosta HS, GA)
Yes I recognize the irony in a pitcher having the first name of “DL.” Prep pitching isn’t an asset in this year's class and I’m not sure where Hall would be in a stronger one. However he’s in this class, which makes him one of the better prep pitchers.
Shane Baez (Concordia Lutheran HS, TX)
Baseball America had the Royals taking Baez with their first pick in their most recent mock . Baez has jumped up a bunch of big boards this spring. It’s an impressive overall package with a prototypical pitchers body, mid-90’s heat, and good feel for his secondary pitches.
Jacob Heatherly (Cullman HS, AL)
Trevor Rogers (Carlsbad HS, NM)
MacKenzie Gore (Whiteville HS, NC)
Hans Crouse (Dana Hills HS, CA) - Yes please based on name alone
“High Floor” College Pitchers
I’m not 100% on board with this being an organizational stereotypical player profile but the Royals have taken a couple guys that match this type of player (AJ Puckett, Brandon Finnegan, Sean Manaea, Erick Skoglund, and maybe even Jace Vines). They aren’t really the team that takes an AJ Puk, Carson Fulmer, Kyle Funkhouser-type player where the college guy needs some adjustments to reign in the delivery. Instead they seem to like the durable guys who might not have brilliant raw stuff but present stuff instead. Not that that’s a bad thing, but if you buy into #TINSTAAPP then “high floor” doesn’t really exist.
Kyle Wright (Vanderbilt)
Tristan Beck (Stanford)
Brendan McKay (Louisville)
Clarke Schmidt (South Carolina)
Griffin Canning (UCLA)
Seth Romero (Houston)