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Royals wrap up college-heavy draft

College arms, speedsters, and tall pitchers were the theme.

Detroit Tigers v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

The Major League draft concluded on Wednesday, and 2018 will certainly be one of the most college-heavy draft classes for the Royals or perhaps any team in recent memory. Of the 43 players selected by the Royals, just nine were drafted out of high school, just three in the top 30 rounds. It began on day one with the selection of Florida pitcher Brady Singer, and continued with the team using all of their five day one picks on college pitchers. The preference for college players continued on day two, with only one high school player taken that day.

It was a very pitching-heavy draft as well, with 26 of the 43 selections chosen for their arm. The Royals chose four catchers, five infielders (no listed first basemen), and eight outfielders. The lack of hitters makes you wonder how the short-season squads at Burlington and Idaho Falls will fill out a lineup this summer.

The focus on day three seemed to be on tall pitchers with good fastballs and speedsters on the bases. Christian Cosby, taken in the 14th round, is in his first full-season of pitching and found he had a mid-90s fastball that could be projectable. Josh Hendrickson hails from Australia, but the 6’3’’ lefty made his name at nearby Barton County Community College where he hada 2.52 ERA with 125 strikeouts in 96.1 innings. Thirty-sixth round pick Elijah Pleasants from Tennessee towers over batters at 6’6’ and was selected after flying in from Kansas City for a workout.

The Royals took a number of speedsters, like prep outfielder Milan Walla. Nathan Eaton played all over the field for the Virginia Military Institute, but swiped 36 bases, including this exciting steal of home. Junior college standout Hunter Wolfe (Round 19) and prep outfielder David Hollie (Round 37) also bring plus speed.

Aside from Hendrickson, the Royals only took one other player from a local school, taking left-handed pitcher Trae Robertson from Hickman High School in Columbia, Missouri. Robertson played on the local Mac n Seitz Elite Team and is committed to Mizzou. Their 39th-round pick, catcher Adam Hackenberg, is the brother of NFL quarterback Christian Hackenberg. Royals assistant General Manager J.J. Picollo also saw his own son Mike, a Blue Valley North grad, drafted by the Mets in round 33.

Players have until July 15 to sign, or else they will return to school. Short-season leagues begin play on June 15.

Royals 2018 Draft Class

Round Pick Player Position School Notes
Round Pick Player Position School Notes
1 18 Brady Singer RHP University of Florida Baseball America College Player of the Year
1 33 Jackson Kowar RHP University of Florida 3.37 ERA with 96 K in 98.2 IP and mid-90s fastball
1 34 Daniel Lynch LHP University of Virginia 105 K in 88.2 IP and good command of four pitches
1 40 Kris Bubic LHP Stanford University Kershaw-like delivery, did well in Cape Cod League
2 58 Jonathan Bowlan RHP University of Memphis Big bodied, struck out 104 with 18 BB in 85 IP
3 94 Kyle Isbel CF University of Nevada-Las Vegas High contact hitter compared to Jason Kipnis
4 122 Eric Cole CF University of Arkansas Could add even more power, corner outfielder in pros
5 152 Austin Cox LHP Mercer University Big curveball led to 124 K in 87 IP, but high ERA
6 182 Zach Haake RHP University of Kentucky College senior with ugly numbers, but live fastball
7 212 Tyler Gray RHP University of Central Arkansas College senior with a 3.32 ERA and 116 K in 97 IP
8 242 Jackson Lueck OF Florida State University Switch-hitter with good power, but hit .245
9 272 Kevon Jackson CF Queen Creek HS (Arizona) Track star stands at 5'8'', just 17 years old
10 302 Austin Lambright LHP University of Central Oklahoma 3.32 ERA with 52 srikeouts in 43.1 IP
11 332 Michael Emodi C Creighton University Good raw power, strong arm, profiles as backup
12 362 Rylan Kaufman LHP San Jacinto College North Stands 6'4'' with a low 90s fastball
13 392 Jon Heasley RHP Oklahoma State University 5.96 ERA, poor command, 94-95 mph fastball
14 422 Christian Cosby RHP Chapman University 6'5'', new to pitching full-time, 95 mph fastball
15 452 Milan Walla CF Tivy HS (Texas) 6'4'', burner on the bases, Oklahoma commit
16 482 Kyle Hinton RHP University of Delaware 2.78 ERA with 94 K and 41 BB in 90.2 IP
17 512 Noah Bryant RHP Georgia Highlands College Can hit 97 on the gun, new to pitching
18 542 R.J. Dabovich RHP Central Arizona College Low 90s fastball and a projectable frame
19 572 Hunter Wolfe SS Walters State Comm. College Great speed, walks a lot, 12th-round pick in '17
20 602 Josh Hendrickson LHP Barton County Comm. College Australian native stands at 6'3''
21 632 Nathan Eaton C Virginia Military Institute Hit .287/.402/.507 with 36 SB
22 662 Bryce Hensley LHP UNC-Greensboro Senior with 4.21 ERA with 82 K and 19 BB in 83.1 IP
23 692 Josh Dye LHP Florida Gulf Coast University 6'5'' with a 2.40 ERA, 74 K and 16 BB in 93.2 IP
24 722 Gage Hughes 2B Greenup County HS (Kentucky) Switch-hitter, good range, committed to Cincinnati
25 752 Hunter Strong OF University of Central Arkansas .338/.424/.519 with 5 HR
26 782 Daniel James RHP University of Texas-Arlington Senior, 3.56 ERA with 28 K and 15 BB in 30.1 IP
27 812 Derrick Adams LHP Jacksonville State University 6'3'' lefty with 46 K and 33 BB in 74 IP with a 5.11 ERA
28 842 Rhett Aplin OF Florida State University Senior hit .301/.428/.416 with 47 walks
29 872 Andres Nunes RHP Florida International University 6'5'' right with 3.42 ERA, 77 K and 21 BB in 68.1 IP
30 902 Kyle Kasser SS University of Oregon Senior hit .278/.381/.319, but hit .352 last year.
31 932 William Hancock C University of Central Arkansas Hit .280/.349/.393 with 5 HR
32 962 Bhret Bewley 3B University of San Diego Hit .291/.376/.468 with 8 HR
33 992 Ted Cillis LHP Hofstra University 3.66 ERA with 65 K and 34 BB in 66.1 IP
34 1022 Ty Madden RHP Cypress Ranch HS (Texas) Low 90s fastball, #240 on BA list, committed to Texas
35 1052 Kody Hoese 3B Tulane University Draft-eligible sophomore hit .291/.368/.435 with 5 HR
36 1082 Elijah Pleasants RHP Rossview HS (Tennessee) 6'6'' with low-90s fastball committed to Tennessee
37 1112 David Hollie OF Cross Creek HS (Georgia) Corner OF with power potential, committed to Ga. Southern
38 1142 Trae Robertson LHP Hickman HS (Missouri) 6'4'' pitcher from Mac n Seitz elite team committed to Mizzou
39 1172 Adam Hackenberg C Miller School of Abermarle (VA) Brother of NFL QB Christian, power hitting Clemson commit
40 1202 Ky Bush LHP Fremont HS (Utah) 6'5'', ranked as 3rd-best talent in state by BA