The Royals have a reputation for drafting high school players, but over the last five years they have drafted an equal number of high school and college players in the first five rounds. That balance was tipped this year, however, as the Royals went on a shopping spree on college players, almost completely forgoing any prep players through the first two days of the draft.
The team went with only college pitchers on day one of the draft, starting with University of Florida pitcher Brady Singer. But they continued picking from the college ranks on day two, although they finally selected some hitters. In round three, they selected UNLV outfielder Kyle Isbel. The left-handed hitter is capable of playing second base, but will likely play center for the Royals, where he spent much of this season with the Rebels. He has a high-contact approach, batting .357/.441/.643 with 14 HR in 59 games, and has drawn numerous comparisons to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis.
The Royals took another outfielder in round four with University of Arkansas’ Eric Cole. The Razorbacks centerfielder will likely move to a corner spot at the pro levels and is capable of hitting for more power, although he did smack 13 home runs while hitting .329/.416/.545 this year.
For the next three rounds, it was back to the college arms. The Royals grabbed left-hander Austin Cox out of Mercer in round five. The 6’3’’ lefty went to high school with Royals’ minor leaguer Richard Lovelady and has a big curveball that allowed him to strike out 124 hitters in 87 innings, although with a 4.52 ERA. In round six, the Royals selected Kentucky’s Zach Haake, a college senior who will likely be signed to a cheap bonus and struggled this season with an 8.47 ERA but has a live fastball and could profile as a reliever.
The Royals grabbed another college senior in round seven with Central Arkansas’ Tyler Gray who is a competitor on the mound with a low-90s fastball and a 3.32 ERA with 116 strikeouts in 97 2/3 innings. In round eight it was back to the outfield with Florida State’s Jackson Lueck, who hit .245/.364/.476 with 15 home runs for the Seminoles as a switch-hitter.
The Royals finally took their first prep player in round nine, taking outfielder Kevon Jackson out of Queen Creek High School in the Phoenix, Arizona area. Jackson was not listed among the top 40 Arizona prospects by Baseball America, but was a track star in high school and is listed at 5’8’’ with 24 steals this year, the kind of speed the Royals covet. In round ten, the Royals went back to college pitchers, taking left-hander Austin Lambright out of Central Oklahoma. The 6’3’’ senior had a 3.32 ERA with 52 strikeouts in 43 1⁄3 innings for the Division II program.
Royals 2018 draft class, Rounds 1-10
|1||18||Brady Singer||RHP||University of Florida||$3,349,300|
|1||33||Jackson Kowar||RHP||University of Florida||$2,118,700|
|1||34||Daniel Lynch||LHP||University of Virginia||$2,066,700|
|1||40||Kris Bubic||LHP||Stanford University||$1,786,300|
|2||58||Jonathan Bowlan||RHP||University of Memphis||$1,168,300|
|3||94||Kyle Isbel||CF||University of Nevada-Las Vegas||$594,800|
|4||122||Eric Cole||CF||University of Arkansas||$451,200|
|5||152||Austin Cox||LHP||Mercer University||$337,000|
|6||182||Zach Haake||RHP||University of Kentucky||$258,000|
|7||212||Tyler Gray||RHP||University of Central Arkansas||$201,800|
|8||242||Jackson Lueck||OF||Florida State University||$163,800|
|9||272||Kevon Jackson||CF||Queen Creek HS (Arizona)||$147,100|
|10||302||Austin Lambright||LHP||University of Central Oklahoma||$138,900|