The Royals face one of their most important drafts in at least a decade, as they will have five of the top 58 picks in the draft, beginning tonight. Royals General Manager Dayton Moore discussed the draft, among other topics on his weekly appearance on Fescoe in the Morning on 610 Sports last Friday.
With a rebuild underway, Dayton Moore asserted that the draft gives the team a chance to replenish the organization, remarking “we’re going to have a chance to build a lot of depth.” He argued that smaller market teams would have trouble competing for elite free agents, particularly at premium positions, making the draft even more important.
“We have to sign them and develop them, we have to get them out of the draft, we have to sign them internationally,” he added, “Especially in the middle of the diamond.”
He cited Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar as the kind of “elite” talent in their prime that the club was seeking to emulate.
“When you look at Kauffman Stadium, we have to have an impact centerfielder. We know what a difference that makes. Really, you need two quality centerfielders on that team. You’d love to have your rightfielder be not only an excellent offensive player, but also be able to play centerfield at times.”
Moore didn’t quite tip his hand on whether the team would prefer hitters or pitchers with their early picks, instead saying “we want a blend, we want a combination of both.” He also stated that with those five early picks, he wanted to be aggressive in taking the “the very best players available.”
However, he did note that teams seem to jump on the premium position players early in the draft.
“The position players fly off the board rather quickly. I think people feel like they can get quality pitching almost in any round - one through ten - the draft has proven that. But the position players - especially the premium position players, come off the board really, really quick.”
The Royals have struggled developing pitchers in the first round under Moore, with Kyle Zimmer (injured), Brandon Finnegan (traded, but struggling), Ashe Russell (many struggles), and Nolan Watson (unimpressive minor league numbers) all failing to pan out so far, and only Sean Manaea having succeeded, albeit in Oakland. However the team has found a few pitchers later on in the draft, namely Danny Duffy (third round) and Jake Junis (29th round).
Our own Matthew LaMar as well as Rany Jazayerli at The Athletic have argued the Royals should concentrate at what they are good at - drafting and developing hitters, and finding other ways to obtain pitching. The Royals have been linked to a number of hitters in this draft - mostly high school players like Alek Thomas, Connor Scott, Noah Naylor, Jeremiah Jackson, and Jordyn Adams, as well as college hitters Jake McCarthy and Jeremy Eierman.
Does this mean the Royals will lean heavily towards hitters? Well, Dayton Moore has typically played things close to the vest, and the Royals often take players in the draft with little reports of interest from them beforehand. The Royals will have the largest draft bonus pool in baseball, which will give them plenty of options on how they want to attack this draft. The club has struggled with their last few drafts, making it even more important for them to nail it this year.