While it doesn’t get the hype of the extravaganza that is the NFL draft, and doesn’t come with ping pong balls and intrigue like the NBA draft, the MLB draft is still a very important way for teams to restock their teams. For the Royals, who have one of the lower-ranked farm systems in baseball, the draft is a vital way to produce talent, and a major part of how they built a championship club in the first place.
Next week, we will know who the newest members of the Royals organization are. Here is what you need to know about the Royals and the 2017 Major League draft.
When is the draft?
The 2017 Major League draft will be held June 12-14 in Seacaucus, New Jersey. Rounds one and two will take place Monday, June 12 at 6 p.m. CT. On Tuesday, teams will draft rounds three through ten beginning at noon. They conclude the draft on Wednesday through round 40, beginning at 11 a.m.
The first day of the draft will air on MLB Network with Greg Amsinger anchoring coverage with contributions from Peter Gammons, Dan O’Dowd, Harold Reynolds and MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis. You can follow the draft live on all three days on MLB.com.
When do the Royals draft?
The draft order is determined on last year’s reverse standings, so the Royals select at #14. They did not have a first round pick in last year’s draft due to signing Ian Kennedy. Because of all the sandwich picks given to clubs to compensate for free agents, the Royals’ second round pick will not be until #52. The Royals also received a “competitive balance” pick that MLB awards lower revenue clubs on a lottery basis, which will give them a pick after the second round at #73. Their third round pick will be #90, and they will select every 30 picks after that. You can find the full draft order here.
What are draft bonus pools?
To limit escalating bonus demands from draftees, Major League Baseball implemented a draft bonus pool system. Every draft pick is assigned a monetary value, and each team has a draft pool that is the total value of their picks combined. They can sign a player to any dollar value under their pool, but the total value of their picks cannot exceed their draft pool.
So if a team has a $5 million draft pool, they can offer one player $2 million, but they would have to sign the rest of their pool to no more than $3 million combined. Teams typically will draft college seniors and offer very low bonuses so that they can offer bonuses over-slot for higher-round players. The draft pool only applies to the first rounds, after that, players can only be signed for $100,000, or else it must come out of the draft pool.
The Royals will have just over $8 million in their draft pool to offer players.
Can you trade picks?
Unlike the NFL and NBA, baseball teams cannot trade draft picks with one exception - competitive balance picks can be traded. They must be traded during the regular season, they cannot be traded for cash, and they cannot be re-traded.
No one really knows why MLB won’t allow trading of other picks. They never have, and baseball is slow to adapt. They did change rules recently so that you can now trade a draftee once the season is complete - previously you had to wait until the following draft to trade a player.
Because there is no trading of picks, the MLB draft moves along much quicker than other drafts.
Who is expected to be the top pick?
The consensus is that the top two players are high school pitcher Hunter Greene of Sherman Oaks, California, or Brendan McKay of the University of Louisville. Complicating things is whether teams see McKay as a first baseman or pitcher, since he has excelled at both. North Carolina prep pitcher MacKenzie Gore, California prep shortstop Royce Lewis, Vanderbilt pitcher Kyle Wright and University of North Carolina outfielder J.B. Bukauskas will be some other names that will go early.
Who will the Royals pick?
The Royals have been linked to some high school pitchers, primarily Trevor Rodgers from New Mexico, Shane Baz from Texas, and DL Hall from Georgia. Vanderbilt outfielder Jeren Kendall has reportedly excited them with his speed, but has a high strikeout rate that may scare teams away. High school outfielders Jo Adell and Bubba Thompson are also possibilities as are college hitters Adam Haseley of Virginia and Jake Burger of nearby Missouri State. Our Shaun Newkirk also highlighted some other players he liked for the Royals early in the draft.
What is some draft jargon I should know?
Baseball scouts will talk about a 20-80 scale to grade player attributes, with 80 being the top score and 50 being average. They will talk about skills being “tools”, such as a “hit tool.” Sluggers may have “raw power”, which means he can hit it a long way in practice, but not necessarily always in games yet. Hitters will also be judged on how quick their “trigger” is, meaning how quickly they can get their bat going through the zone.
Pitchers, typically high school pitchers, will be said to have a “feel for pitching” or “pitchability”, which means they understand how to pitch, in contrast to some that just throw hard. A pitcher’s breaking ball may be described as “slurvy”, which means it looks like a mix of a curveball and slider, which is typically not ideal.
Where can I find excellent draft coverage?
Glad you asked! You can find great draft coverage here at Royals Review, including draft-day threads and updates on Twitter next week.