The Royals will have the 14th overall pick in tonight’s draft which you can watch live on MLB Network or follow live here at Royals Review starting at 6pm CT. The Royals have not selected this high since 2013, when they drafted Hunter Dozier with the eighth overall pick.
The top pick belongs to the Minnesota Twins, who are expected to choose between California high school pitcher Hunter Greene or University of Louisville two-way player Brendan McKay. It is a bit more difficult to ascertain who will be available by the time the Royals select, but here is a summary of players who could still be on the board.
The High School Pitchers
RHP Shane Baz, Concordia Lutheran High School (Tomball, Texas)
Baseball America rank: #11
The Royals have been linked to a number of high school pitchers, including Baz. The 6’3’’ right-hander has a clean delivery with a mid-90s fastball, but is not your typical Texas flamethrower since he has a deep repertoire of pitches including a curveball, slider, changeup and cutter. He features one of the best spin rates for a potential draftee. His command is a weakness, but he is not wild and some feel he will develop average to above-average command. He may require a larger bonus to keep him from attending TCU.
RHP Sam Carlson, Burnsville High School (Burnsville, Minnesota)
Baseball America rank: #21
Carlson was a fast riser this spring due to a fastball that jumped to the mid-90s on the gun. He has perhaps the best changeup out of any prep pitcher, although his slider will need some work. Carlson has an easy rock-back delivery that can cause some deception to hitters, although some feel that he throws across his body a bit which may lead to injury issues. Standing at 6’4’’, Carlson is a terrific athlete who would also be a prospect at outfield and is committed to the University of Florida.
LHP DL Hall, Valdosta HS (Valdosta, GA)
Baseball America rank: #16
Hall is widely considered the second-best lefty arm in the draft after MacKenzie Gore, and there have been rumors of interest from the Royals. He can touch 95 on the gun and is said to have a “repeatable” delivery, although there is some concern about his propensity to “fall hard” off the mound. The velocity can be a bit inconsistent and his command will need to be refined. His “out” pitch is an outstanding curveball, and some like his changeup, while others feel it is inconsistent but shows promise. Hall is already 19 years old, and is committed to Florida State.
LHP Trevor Rogers, Carlsbad HS (Carlsbad, NM)
Baseball America rank: #31
Rogers has been heavily linked to the Royals in rumors, although it could be a smokescreen. Rogers is another 19-year old prep pitcher, and his age combined with inconsistent performance in what is considered a weaker opposition than he might face in California or Texas has raised red flags with some. When he’s on, the 6’6’’ lefty has a fastball in the mid-90s with a low-effort delivery at a three-quarters angle that is killer on lefty hitters. His breaking pitch is inconsistent and a bit slurvy and he will need refinement on a changeup. The Texas Tech commit has high upside, but will need strong coaching and development.
Others to know: RHP Hans Crouse (Dana Point, CA); RHP Blayne Enlow (St. Amant, LA); RHP Matt Sauer (Santa Maria, CA)
The High School Hitters
OF Jordon Adell, Ballard HS (Louisville, KY)
Baseball America rank: #7
To borrow from Moneyball, Jordon Adell is the kind of prospect that can sell jeans. Adell is the kind of five-tool prospect the Royals have typically loved and there is a good chance he will be off the board by the time they select. Adell ran a 6.19 in the 60-yard dash, can hit 450-foot home runs, throws in the mid-90s on the mound, and hit .512 with 10 home runs in 16 games this spring for his high school team. The right-handed hitter has been inconsistent at times, disappearing in big events, and suffers misplays and exhibits poor strike zone judgment at times. He is known for his good makeup and with the right organization could become a superstar.
OF Heliot Ramos, Leadership Christian Academy (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico)
Baseball America rank: #30
Heliot seems to be on helium, with buzz about him possibly skyrocketing up draft boards. The excitement from scouts comes from his raw tools - he shows plus power and plus speed. He has the speed to play center field with mixed reports on his arm - some feel it is above-average, while others think he will end up in left field. Pitch recognition may be a factor with Ramos, which is why he has become a divisive prospect. If an organization can hone his raw skills, his ceiling is sky-high.
OF Bubba Thompson, McGill-Toolen Catholic High School (Mobile, Alabama)
Baseball America rank: #25
Thompson was a big-time college football recruit as a quarterback, but he will dedicate himself to baseball and is committed to attend Alabama. He fits the prototype as a raw five-tool player with 70-grade speed with a 60-grade arm. His power is still developing, but with his thick frame and quick bat speed, many expect him to be a home run hitter as he matures. He does have a stutter in his swing that may be for timing pitches or could be an issue going forward. He will also need instruction on defense, but his speed allows him to cover misjudgments. The right-handed hitter just turned 19 and is considered a hard-worker.
Others to know: OF Austin Beck (Lexington, NC); 1B Nick Pratto (Huntington Beach, CA); SS Mark Vientos (Plantation, FL)
The College Pitchers
RHP Tristan Beck, Stanford University
Baseball America rank: #41
Beck would be a huge gamble at pick 14 since he hasn’t pitched all year with a stress fracture to his back. But it may be a gamble worth taking since he flashes four above-average pitches, including the best changeup in the draft. He also throws what some scouts feel is the best curveball in the draft, and he has sharp command with a fastball in the low-90s. Beck had a 2.48 ERA with 76 strikeouts and 26 walks in 83 1⁄3 innings for the Cardinal in 2016 and is still just 20 years old.
RHP Griffin Canning, UCLA
Baseball America rank: #26
Canning is one of the best college pitchers in the country, currently second in the nation in strikeouts with 140 in 119 innings with 32 walks and a 2.34 ERA for the Bruins. The 21-year old throws in the low-to-mid 90s, and features a solid curveball, slider, and changeup as well. He is lauded for having a good feel for pitching with a clean arm delivery and very good command. He did have a heavy workload at UCLA, once tossing 134 pitches in a start and his upside isn’t considered to be too high, more a mid-rotation starter or possibly even a reliever.
RHP Alex Faedo, University of Florida
Baseball America rank: #10
Faedo has been the ace of an excellent Florida Gators squad, striking out 132 hitters in 107 1/3 innings with a 2.60 ERA and 35 walks. He has what may be the best slider in this draft to go along with a fastball in the 92-94 mph range. He may not have big-time velocity, but his fastball has excellent movement. He hasn’t thrown the changeup enough for scouts to love it, but it is still considered by many as an average offering. Faedo has a long delivery that reminds me a lot of former Royals reliever Mike MacDougal. Like MacDougal, Faedo may have some command issues. He also had minor knee injury, although that shouldn’t be much of a concern.
LHP Seth Romero, University of Houston
Baseball America rank: #27
Romero struck out an eye-popping 85 hitters in just 48 2⁄3 innings for the Houston Cougars this season and is considered to have one of the best fastballs in college baseball. The 6’3’’ lefty throws in the 92-95 mph range with a plus slider and solid command. His changeup needs some work, however. Romero’s biggest red flag however is his work ethic. He has been overweight in the past, although he has slimmed down to a reported 220 pounds. He was also suspended from the team in both 2016 and 2017, once for a failed drug test. Romero also had a procedure in high school where a screw was inserted into his elbow. His arm tends to drag a bit in his delivery, which may cause problems down the road.
Others to know: RHP Tanner Houck (Missouri); RHP Nate Pearson (JC of Central Florida); LHP David Peterson (Oregon)
The College Hitters
3B Jake Burger, Missouri State University
Baseball America rank: #20
Burger may have the best power in the draft, smashing 22 home runs for the Bears down in Springfield. He also hit .328 with 43 walks to just 38 strikeouts. Some feel he will be able to continue to hit for average in the pros, while others think the arm bar in his swing will cause him to hit for a low average. Burger is considered to have a poor body, and despite a strong arm, may have to move off third base to first. The Royals reportedly had a “large contingent” on hand recently to see the St. Louis-native.
OF Adam Haseley, University of Virginia
Baseball America rank: #8
Haseley was an impressive pitcher for the Cavaliers, but his sensational junior season has put him among the top college draft hitting prospects. He hit .390 with 14 home runs for Virginia with 44 walks to just 21 strikeouts. Haseley hits in a bit of a crouch with a short, compact stroke. He profiles as a solid top-of-the-order-type hitter with good gap power and above-average speed, not unlike former Royals outfielder David DeJesus, although with perhaps more home run power and a much better arm. Scouts seem divided on whether he could handle center field at the pro level, and he may end up in left.
2B/OF Keston Hiura, University of California-Irvine
Baseball America rank: #14
Hiura leads the nation in hitting with a .442 batting average and has drawn 50 walks to boot. He has flashed modest power, smacking eight home runs for the Anteaters, but scouts like his ability to barrel up and feel he could hit for more power as a pro. Hiura possesses the best pitch recognition skills in this draft and has done nothing but hit in his collegiate career. There are questions where he will end up defensively, however. He suffered an elbow injury that has forced him to DH this spring, and he may need Tommy John surgery. He has average speed and an average arm and may end up in left field.
OF Jeren Kendall, Vanderbilt University
Baseball America rank #18
Kendall was considered one of the top players in this draft, but his stock has fallen recently and he could fall to the Royals at #14. He is perhaps the fastest player in the entire draft, grading at 70 with raves about his ability to handle center field at the pro level. Kendall is not some slap-hitter either, he smacked 15 home runs for the Commodores hitting from the left-side. The big issue with Kendall is his whiffs. He struck out over 25% of the time this year, a huge mark for a top college hitter. He also struggled in the elite wood-bat Cape Cod summer league last year and can be a bit pull-happy. Still, it is not too hard to see his speed playing at Kauffman Stadium, and the Royals have been linked to the Wisconsin-native.
SS Logan Warmouth, University of North Carolina
Baseball America rank: #19
Warmouth has good defense at shortstop with an above-average bat that may not have huge upside, but comes with a high floor. The right-handed hitting Warmouth hit .336 for the Tarheels with 10 home runs and 28 walks with 47 strikeouts. He fared well in the Cape Cod League last summer and has good pitch recognition skills and average speed. Some scouts feel Warmouth has the range to stick at shortstop in the pros, while others think his arm is not strong enough and he will have to move to second base.
1B/OF Evan White, University of Kentucky
Baseball America rank: #12
White is possibly the best defensive player in this draft, albeit at first base. He has the athleticism to move to the outfield and become an average to above-average defender there as well. White also brings offense from the right-side of the plate, hitting .373 for the Wildcats with 10 home runs and 25 walks to 31 strikeouts. White may have more gap power than home run power in the pros, and he did suffer from some hip and hamstring injuries in college.
Others to know: OF Stuart Fairchild (Wake Forest); OF Brian Miller (North Carolina); 1B Pavin Smith (Virginia)
My personal draft ranking* of these players:
RHP Shane Baz
3B Jake Burger
2B Keston Hiura
OF Jordon Adell
LHP DL Hall
RHP Sam Carlson
OF Jeren Kendall
RHP Tristan Beck
OF Adam Haseley
OF Heliot Ramos
RHP Griffin Canning
1B Evan White
RHP Alex Faedo
LHP Seth Romero
SS Logan Warmouth
OF Bubba Thompson
LHP Trevor Rogers
*-with the caveat that I’m some dumb schlub sitting on my couch watching videos and reading scouting reports