MLB Pipeline released their top 50 draft prospects for the 2019 June draft on Wednesday. Given that the Royals possess the #2 overall pick in the draft, we’ll be doing a bit of draft coverage here at Royals Review. I’m going to give some of my personal thoughts about MLB Pipeline’s list, and then some options for the Royals at #2.
MLB Pipeline’s top 13:
- Adley Rutschman, C, Oregon State
- Bobby Witt Jr., SS, Colleyville Heritage HS (TX)
- Andrew Vaughn, 1B, Cal
- Shea Langeliers, C, Baylor
- CJ Abrams, SS, Blessed Trinity Catholis HS (Georgia)
- Josh Jung, 3B, Texas Tech
- Carter Stewart, RHP, Eastern Florida State JC
- Riley Greene, OF, Hagerty HS (FL)
- Graeme Stinson, LHP, Duke
- Brennan Malone, RHP, IMG Academy (FL)
- Kameron Misner, OF, Mizzou
- Bryson Stott, SS, UNLV
- Daniel Espino, RHP, Georgia Premier Academy
You may be wondering why I chose to list the top 13 for you, and not 5/10/15 or some other round number. I’m glad you’re wondering. I chose the top 13 because I believe that all 13 of these players are currently in play for the Royals at #2, and I don’t think there’s many other options outside of these 13 that are in play (Nick Lodolo, LHP, TCU, may be the only exception).
The MLB Draft is mostly a crap shoot. Things change so fast when you’re drafting both high school and college kids, and no one ever really knows who will work out and who won’t. In the fall of 2017, Brady Singer and Ethan Hankins were both sure-fire, can’t miss prospects that were going to battle each other for the #1 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. Until they didn’t. Brady Singer fell to the Royals at #18 and Hankins almost fell out of the first round completely before being swooped up by Cleveland at #35.
The point of all this is to say that it is absolutely possible that Adley Rutschman and Bobby Witt Jr. fall past the Royals at #2. Nothing is guaranteed in the MLB Draft. As it stands on 12/7/2018, it looks very likely that the Royals would take either Adley Rutschman or Bobby Witt Jr., whom ever the Baltimore Orioles don’t take at #1. Assuming that things will change before the 2019 draft begins, and it will, here’s a look at some guys that I think will head the list of options for the Royals at #2.
1.) Adley Rutschman
The Oregon State backstop appears to be, without a doubt, the best prospect in the draft pool for next summer. Joey Bart, the #2 overall pick in the 2018 draft, is currently considered to be one of the best catching prospects in all of baseball. Adley Rutschman will almost certainly surpass him the moment he is drafted. He’s that good. In 250 AB at Oregon State in 2018, Rutschman (a switch hitter) slashed .408/.505/.628/1.133 with 9 HR, 22 doubles, and 3 triples. Along with being one of the two or three best college hitters available, he’s got gold glove defensive ability behind the plate as well. Will Baltimore pass on him? I doubt it, but should they select anyone else at #1, the Royals will have an excellent option at #2.
2.) Bobby Witt Jr.
Should Baltimore opt for Rutschman at #1, there’s another pretty good option for the Royals at #2. Bobby Witt Jr. is currently heralded as the second best bat available in the 2019 draft. His combination of speed and raw power make him an intriguing option on the middle infield. MLB.com just did a mock draft and they’ve got the Royals taking Witt Jr. This is looking like the most likely option, but there’s a few others I like too...
3.) Kameron Misner
Yes, the under-the-radar Mizzou outfielder is absolutely in play here for the Royals at #2. Is it likely? Probably not, but Misner is a monster junior season in the SEC away from jolting up draft boards.
Kameron Misner hit .360/.497/.576/1.073 last season with Mizzou in 34 games. 4 HR, 9 doubles, 3 triples, 13 SB. Kid can flat out play.— Alex Duvall (@duvy_013) December 5, 2018
I’m not under the impression that the Royals will necessarily want to under-slot early on in the draft, but if they choose to go that route, Misner is probably one of the leading candidates. Drafting high school players can be risky, as they have all kinds of leverage to say no (college), and the Royals have made it clear they want to make sure this rebuild goes quickly. Drafting a high school player that opts to go to college after the draft would be a crushing blow to the rebuild. Drafting a college bat would only help to speed the rebuild up. The Royals have already drafted Misner before (33rd round in 2016), and he would represent some really good value as a 5-tool player in the 2019 draft. Some say he even has the best tools of any college player available...
Despite owning the best all-around tools in the 2019 college crop and a track record of performance, @MizzouBaseball OF Kameron Misner hasn't gotten much hype. That should change. Here he is on our Top 50 Prospects list: https://t.co/klEwXZrZ5L pic.twitter.com/2hBauqPRvp— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) December 6, 2018
4.) Brennan Malone
This is another guy that I think can shoot up draft radars and be something of a sneaky pick for KC at #2. Malone is a RHP out of Florida that reminds me a lot of 2018 Vanderbilt signee Kumar Rocker. Malone is an excellent athlete with good arm action and an upper-90’s fastball. He’s got great movement on his curveball and decent feel for his changeup. He would certainly need some seasoning in the minor leagues, but he’d be an interesting option as a young pitcher with an immense ceiling.
Armed with one of the best fastballs in the 2019 #MLBDraft, @DiamondHeels commit Brennan Malone stands out as one of the top high school arms in the class. He cracks the top 10 on our Top 50 #MLBDraft Prospects list: https://t.co/klEwXZrZ5L pic.twitter.com/fQUZUU25tw— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) December 6, 2018
5.) Bryson Stott
Oh yes. Kyle Isbel’s former teammate, the SS at UNLV, could be another college bat option for the Royals at #2. Let’s take a look at how Isbel and Stott compared with UNLV in 2018:
- Isbel: .357/.441/.643/1.084, 14 HR, 18 doubles, 6 SB, 15.25 K%
- Stott: .365/.442/.556/.998, 4 HR, 30 doubles, 14 SB, 6.12 K%
So, Isbel hit for a bit more power in terms of HR, but Stott hit a ton of doubles, walked more, struck out less, and plays a more prominent defensive position. Reuniting these two in the system would be an awesome get for the Royals. The only caveat to picking Stott at #2 is that he would have to go out and have a monster junior season, which is not out of the question. Stott is a plus defender at SS, so should he go out with a bang at UNLV, he could potentially be the first SS off the board next June.
Some honorable mentions to my top five list would be Daniel Espino, Nick Lodolo, Josh Jung (who I really wanted to put on this list, but his defensive profile doesn’t fit the Royals as well as others), and Drew Mendoza. Again, things change frequently when talking about the MLB Draft, but I truly believe my five favorite candidates for the Royals at #2 next summer would all present great pieces to solidify this rebuild.
THINGS WILL CHANGE BEFORE NEXT JUNE’S DRAFT. No one had Casey Mize as the #1 overall pick this time last year. The guy the Royals pick with the second overall pick next June will probably remain a mystery until draft night. With that being said, who would you like to see the Royals take? Any creative options in your mind?