Last week I gave you some names that the Royals would likely be interested in for the first round tonight’s draft, and I feel confident at least one of them will be taken by them.
Now it’s time for the fun. Here are the guys I like (in no real order):
RHP Cole Wilcox (wrote about on Thursday)
I’m a big fan of Wilcox, so excuse me if I drool a bit here. I’m not a fan of the Royals taking a prep pitcher with their first pick given their developmental history, but there is just too much to like about Wilcox. There’s also a decent chance he isn’t even available to the Royals at 18th, but a guy can dream.
There are two things that stand out to me about Wilcox. First, he’s mid-90’s on his fastball, touching 98 MPH, one of the higher readings in the class. Secondly, he has one of the best, if not the best, changeup by a high school pitcher in the draft.
You can throw a flag on his delivery perhaps, his command is good but not great, and he’s not necessarily young for a prepster, but he checks many boxes for me.
1B Triston Casas (wrote about on Thursday)
Yes, you may recognize the high school Casas is from and who came from there. Casas would join Eric Hosmer as first basemen taken in the first round by the Royals from American Heritage. Casas isn’t going to be taken nearly as high (I’d prefer him more at 33/34 than at 18th) and doesn’t have the same shine Hosmer did.
Still, he’s from one of the best prep programs in the country, in a state that plays nearly year-round. Casas has been seen for years now by scouts and has been highly decorated in his prep “career.” He has a ton of power and projects to hit for a decent average to boot. He’s not particularly athletic (he looks unnatural in the box - but so does Aaron Judge) and isn’t a total zero at the cold corner, his bat is the only thing he has to worry about.
Prep first basemen taken early rarely happen, and it doesn’t often work out (relative to your typical draft prospect), and I like Casas more in the comp round or second than the first. Casas reclassified, and moved up a year to be draft-eligible next week.
SS/2B Jeremiah Jackson (wrote about on Thursday)
Even though Jackson won’t likely go in the first round, he’s been strongly linked to the Royals, so why not start here. Alabama infielders are a rare sight on day one despite being in a hotbed of baseball activity. Jackson isn’t a surefire player to stay at short, but it’s a non-zero chance, and if not he’ll move either right to second base or left to third base. He’s athletic, makes good contact, and has a little power for a guy as wiry as he is. If the Royals go with him, it’ll likely be in the compensation round or competitive balance pick.
CF Jarred Kelenic - Waukesha West HS, WI
It’s tough to scout guys up in the northern areas of the United States given they either a) don’t have high school baseball (Wyoming - Mets first rounder Brandon Nimmo never played high school ball) or b) don’t get started until a few weeks before the draft even takes place.
Kelenic is of the latter group, where his teams first game didn’t take place until May 23rd. Kelenic though graduated early and joined a travel team, so it made it easier for teams to get eyes on him.
He’s not a sure fire centerfielder, but he’ll start there and move to right field if he can’t stick given his above average arm. He’s not of the “selling jeans” mold when he’s in the box, but there’ innate raw power, above average speed and contact skills. If he can stick in center, he could be a 3-4+ win player in the dynamic Shane Victorino/David DeJesus mold. It remains to be seen how much he’ll physically grow.
The red flags on Kelenic are somewhat glaring: old for his class (19), from a cold weather state (Wisconsin), and hasn’t been seen that much this spring, causing teams to lean more on older reports than recent looks.
CF Nick Schnell - Roncalli HS, IN
I’m definitely “in” on Schnell, who arguably already has four average or better tools (speed, arm, power and fielding) and might just stick in centerfield. He’s projectable and likely to add a bit more power to his already above average raw and the contact skills aren’t non-existent and projected to be about average. He’s destroyed his competition everywhere this spring.
CF Connor Scott - Plant HS, TX
Plant High School is going to produce four day early pick guys over the past few years if/when Scott gets taken somewhere in the first (the others being Kyle Tucker 2015, Jake Woodford 2015, and Mychal Givens 2009). With Woodford and Givens being pitchers (though Scott does pitch too), Tucker is obviously a better comparison but not just in coincidence of where they went to school.
He shares a not dissimilar setup as Tucker, with and upright stance in the Ted Williams-esque mold (though Tucker was a bit more exaggerated). Both are tall and lean outfielders, but Scott is much faster though he lacks the raw power Tucker had.
He’s been nagged by injuries this spring but has impressed when he plays, but the lack of looks are going to deflate his stock a bit. Still, he’s an impressive athlete with plus-speed and average to slightly above raw power who is likely to develop more feel to hit.
If developed fully, he’s a true five tool guy with impact on both sides of the ball.
RHP Ethan Hankins - Forsyth Central HS, GA
Strangely, the pre-draft top hitting and top pitching prospects both saw their stock drop significantly enough, but for different reasons. Turang was more due to performance while Hankins was due to an injury (shoulder).
Hankins eventually returned to the mound but hasn’t returned to his once dazzling form. He has a looonnggg track record of performing well, wowing scouts, and racking up “hardware”.
At his best, it’s a double-plus fastball, and above average or better changeup, and a plus curveball. That Hankins hasn’t appeared back on the mound yet, so his stock is considerably lower, but if a team likes his medicals enough, Hankins has a lot to speak for and could be the steal of the draft.
OF Trevor Larnach - Oregon State
Our man Patrick Brennan on these pages is a big Larnach fan, and while I’m not quite as high, I’m certainly buying into him.
Larnach is an interesting type of top college prospect. He has above average to plus raw power, but you might not really see it just by the looks of him. The power mainly is to opposite field, which I think is a big attraction that typically spells out good things for future game power, but there are strikeout concerns and he doesn’t always get to the power given his swing. He’s not a big hacking slugger like his strikeout rate might suggest, but there’s patience at the plate leading to what will likely be a good walk rate to go alongside with liveable strikeouts.
He’s a below average runner and fielder, likely to find a home in left, but he might hit enough to cover his defense/baserunning deficiencies and it’s unlikely his home will ever be anywhere other than out in the grass.
The dude hits the ball hard, walks, and isn’t a total zero defensively in the outfield, so it’s not hard to see an above average player if it all translates.
CF Mike Siani - William Penn Charter HS, PA
Siani is impressive when he gets out of the box or is out on the field. He’s an above average runner and fielder in the outfield, is well sized, and has a strong arm (guess what, he pitched). He’s not imposing in size but he’s athletic and has performed well this spring against decent northeast competition.
The concerns with him are his future power and contact ability, as he’s a bit raw at the plate, but it’s not tough to see him taking a few steps forward in contact/bat control as he has good bat speed.
C Anthony Seigler - Cartersville HS, GA
Want to talk about weird? Seigler is a switching hitting, switch throwing, catcher who also doubles as a switch throwing pitcher on the mound. If right-right first basemen are weird, Seigler is a Lars Von Trier film.
An already good catcher with an above average to plus arm, Seigler makes good contact currently and is fairly quick for a catcher. The real question is what happens with the raw power? Seigler is one of the older guys in his class but it’s not tough to project growth for any high school guy. If that comes then so could the power (but a loss in some athleticism).
The comparisons will be made to MJ Melendez who is already in the Royals system, but Seigler is a better prospect than Melendez was coming out of the draft and I think I’d take him even over current Melendez.
C/3B Noah Naylor - St. Joan of Arc HS, Canada
Naylor has a wider range of opinions on him because it depends on where he ends up defensively. He’s spent time at catcher, third base, has taken some balls at SS, and some teams think he could end up at either first or second base. There’s also an outside chance he moves to the outfield. Five years from now he’ll be somewhere on the field.
But if you are getting caught up in where he’ll play, you are missing the big picture with him. He’s a very good hitter who is more more athletic than his older brother (Padres prospect Josh Naylor), so he shouldn’t suffer the same fate as being demoted all the way down to the cold corner.
Naylor is going to keep growing a bit, and I think the power will come, making him possible plus hit and power guy who could catch or play third.
RHP Tristan Beck - Stanford
I liked Beck last year for the Royals, but they obviously passed, as did every other team for 28 rounds until Beck was taken by the Yankees and didn’t sign, returning back to Stanford. His stock dropped due to a back injury that made him a no show basically all spring.
This year Beck has been back on the mound, but the stuff isn’t quite as exciting as it was last year. Still, Beck has an interesting enough background, history, and repertoire that he’s worth a shot at pick 40 or so perhaps.
2B Matt McLain - Beckman HS, CA
Man, if you know me, you know I like a good undersized second baseman who can hit and run, and baby, McLain is it.
McLain just kinda does everything well except for hit for power. That’s the biggest detractor to his game right now, but his contact skills could lead to a positive light. In an era of baseball where contact hitters can tease out power later in their careers, if McLain grows a bit more, he could be a possible candidate to do so given his bat control.
RF Elijah Cabell - TNXL Academy, FL
Cabell is out there, selling jeans, and looks the part of an impactful MLB player. The power is real, but so are the contact issues.
CF Alek Thomas - Mount Carmel HS, IL
An above average spend and defense centerfielder, Thomas has one of the better hit tools amongst prep guys in the draft. He could grow into some more power, which would just be a cherry on the sundae, but even without it he looks like a possible everyday guy.
RHP Durbin Feltman - TCU
High-90’s fastball that touches 99 MPH, paired with a power slider, Feltman is purely a reliever but a potentially very good one.
RHP Lenny Torres Jr - Beacon HS, NY
One of the youngest guys in the draft (17.6) Torres already has impressive mid-90’s velocity that touches 98 and a good slider. Torres will grow more and is highly projectable.
OF Parker Meadows - Grayson HS, GA
Brother of Pirates outfielder Austin Meadows, Parker doesn’t have the same heat going into the draft but he’s a good prospect in his own right. He’s athletic with plus speed, a good fielder, and carries above average raw power. The bat isn’t as good as his brothers was in the June of his draft year, but Meadows has projectability.s speed and a good
RHP Joey Gerber - Illinois
Gerber is a reliever only with a plus fastball and slider that is played up through the deception of his funky delivery but plays down his command.
2B Nico Hoerner - Stanford
I like Hoerner actually a decent bit. Good approach college guy with some existing power that runs well and is good enough to stay up the middle at either SS or 2B. Might benefit from a launch adjustment.
1B/DH Seth Beer - Clemson
Beer is going to get paid to do one thing: hit bombs. He has some of the best raw power in the draft and has accessed it in an elite conference. He’s a 1B/DH only guy who is slow, but teams are all over on him. Some buy the college dominance and power, while others are scared by the hit tool and bottom of the scale defensive home putting too much pressure on the bat.
RF Griffin Conine - Duke
Son of long time MLBer Jeff Conine, Griffin had higher stock last summer after a great showing in the Cape Cod League. He’s struggled for most of the spring, and there are concerns about the ultimate hit tool but there’s some power and athleticism to go along with his #Bloodlines.
RF Kyler Murray - Oklahoma
Ultra athletic outfielder who also plays quarterback at Oklahoma. Murray is young for a college guy, and has eased some doubts about his contact issues. Still, he’s raw after having to share attention with football, but he’s toolsy.
C CJ Willis - Ruston HS, LA
Somewhat similar to my boy Chase Vallot, Willis is a raw but powerful prep catcher from Louisiana who defensive home is up for debate. Like Vallot, Willis is very young for his draft class and won’t turn 18 until after it.
CF Osiris Johnson - Encinal HS, CA
Another very young guy for his class, Johnson is twitchy with above average raw power and a non-zero chance of sticking at shortstop. He’s obviously raw, but in several years could be 50s across the board.
RF Lawrence Butler - Westlake HS, GA
He’s similar to Osiris Johnson in rawness, but Butler has a bit better feel to hit but isn’t quite the athlete as Johnson.