In 2018, the Royals went heavy on college pitchers in the draft, picking up two Florida Gators in the first round - Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar. This year on day one of the draft, they picked up another Florida Gator with their second-round pick, then picked up another college pitcher with their Competitive Balance pick after the second round.
In the second round, with the 44th pick, the Royals selected shorstop Brady McConnell out of the University of Florida. McConnell was teammates with Singer and Kowar last year, although McConnell only appeared in nine games that year due to injury. This year he played in 59 games and hit .332/.385/.576 with 15 home runs and six steals as a draft-eligible sophomore.
McConnell was ranked as the 59th-best prospect by Baseball America, 56th by Fangraphs, 39th by MLB Pipeline, and 55th on Shaun Newkirk’s aggregate board. McConnell was considered a first-round talent as a prep star out of Merritt Island High School in Florida in 2017. A lackluster spring caused him to fall to the 33rd round, and he passed up a chance to sign with the Reds to head to Gainesville. According to Baseball America, McConnell added 10-15 pounds to his 6’3’’ frame since coming to college to hit for more power. MLB Pipeline writes he has a “knack for barreling up the baseball.”
However they write that “scouts are still puzzled with McConnell, as they question his true hitting ability” while Fangraphs calls him a “polarizing player.” McConnell whiffs quite a bit with 57 strikeouts this year to just 17 walks. He has plus speed and could be a good, although not elite basestealer.
Fangraphs writes he has “true shortstop skills”, but Baseball America writes that scouts question whether he can stick at the position, and that “his internal clock seems to be a bit off at the position, and he struggles to get his feet set properly at times.” MLB Pipeline writes he could move to second, but if his hands are a problem, centerfield could be his destiny.
With the #70 overall pick in the Competitive Balance B round, the Royals selected right-handed pitcher Alec Marsh out of Arizona State. Marsh, who went undrafted out of high school in Milwaukee, has been a big riser up draft boards after a strong spring with the Sun Devils, and was ranked #97 by Baseball America and #102 by MLB Pipeline. He was 9-3 with a 3.17 ERA and 92 strikeouts and 33 walks in 96 2/3 innings.
Baseball America describes him as having a “five-pitch mix” with all pitches grading as average pitches. He throws in the low 90s, although he can get his fastball in the mid-90s at times with “solid cut and sink” according to MLB Pipeline. His two-seamer and four-seamer are his out pitches, but he also throws a good change up and can also mix in a slider and curveball.
Day two of the MLB draft resumes Tuesday at noon CT with rounds 3-10 taking place. The draft concludes on Wednesday at 11 a.m. CT with rounds 11-40. Those two days of the draft will air exclusively online at MLB.com.