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Royals go all-in on college pitchers with their top five picks

Arms! Arms! Arms!

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Florida vs TCU Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals are not known for drafting college arms early in the draft, however they have selected Sean Manaea and Kyle Zimmer in the first round (and Aaron Crow and Luke Hochevar if you consider them college arms when they were taken out of the independent leagues). However the Royals went all-in on college arms when they used all five of their first five picks on college pitchers.

The Royals used their first-round pick, #18 overall, on University of Florida pitcher Brady Singer, who many considered a top-ten talent. Singer fell in the draft as teams went on a run on position players, a development Dayton Moore discussed before the draft. The run on hitters caused many top pitchers to slide down the draft board.

That included Singer’s teammate Jackson Kowar, who some felt could be a first rounder. The Royals snatched up Kowar in the compensatory round with the 33rd overall pick. The 6’6’’ junior had a 3.37 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 98 2/3 innings for the Gators, who are facing Florida Atlantic in the regionals of the NCAA tournament. Baseball America ranked Kowar as the 17th-best draft prospect, writing he has “clean arm action that he uses to throw a low to mid-90s fastball and a changeup that is currently a 60-grade offering.” His breaking ball will need some refinement, and Kowar has missed time with an ailment that caused his lung to collapse in his freshman year.

With the very next pick, the Royals went with another college arm, taking Virginia Cavaliers pitcher Daniel Lynch. The 6’4’’ lefty opened eyes with his performance in the elite wood bat Cape Cod League last summer but had underwhelming numbers this spring with a 3.96 ERA and 105 strikeouts in 88 2/3 innings. Lynch has good command of four pitches, with a fastball in the low-90s with a slider, curveball, and an above-average changeup, according to Baseball America. They ranked him as the 111th best prospect, so he might be an underslot signing to allow the Royals to offer larger bonuses to other draft picks.

With the 40th pick, a competitive balance pick, the Royals selected Stanford lefty Kris Bubic. The 6’3’’ lefty from San Jose, California had a terrific sophomore season and followed it up with a strong performance in the Cape Cod League. He has used a strong changeup and a Clayton Kershaw-like delivery to put up a 2.73 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 79 innings. However Baseball America writes that Bubic is “more of a future back-end starter at the next level”, although they did rank him as the 40th-best prospect.

With their second-round pick at #58 overall, the Royals selected Memphis right-hander Jonathan Bowlan. The 6’6’’ right-hander stands at 260 pounds and had a 3.71 ERA with 104 strikeouts and just 18 walks in 85 innings for the Memphis Tigers. He throws in the low-90s, although Baseball America writes he will have to work on refining his secondary pitches. They rank him as the 230rd-best prospect, so again, he may be an underslot signing.

The Royals have very few high pitching prospects in the system, so this could be the infusion of talent the system needed. However some of the arms aren’t as high in upside as some of the other players available. How would you grade this draft so far?


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