If we were to diagnose the “Royals draft profile,” what would it be? It has changed over time, as the early drafts were heavy on prep players, with some power and hit tools in Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Wil Myers. A player like Bobby Witt, Jr. fits in that group, as did Nick Pratto when he was selected. Three of those players worked out pretty well for the Royals, while scouts have raved about the other two in the past year.
Another profile could be a college pitcher, tall and lean, with a track record of success at the college level. Current pitchers Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar, and Daniel Lynch fit with that profile, as do a few others. As the college and high school seasons play out, plenty of players will see fit into certain boxes that may be logical for the Royals and their profile. Is there a player that seems like the perfect match?
As far as pitchers go, Gunner Hoglund, the Ole Miss pitcher I profiled a couple of weeks ago, fits very well with the pitchers the Royals have drafted recently, as does Ty Madden from Texas, who also likely to be available. If the Royals are to stick with their prep profiles, I don’t know if there is a player in this year’s draft that fits their previous record more than a Georgia high school infielder. The Royals chose Bobby Witt, Jr. and Nick Pratto with their 2019 and 2017 1st round picks. Both players had long track records on the scene for scouts under their watchful eye. Pratto had provided the key hit at the Little League World Series when he was just 13 years old before being part of a big high school program and Team USA at the U-18 championships. While Witt Jr. didn’t come with the Little League championship as a former major league player’s son, he would draw eyeballs early on. From age 16 on, he was the #1 high school player in the class, enduring the criticism that comes with that position. Despite being high school players, the type of high-level competition and reps they saw gave a similar look for scouts as one would see for college players. One player in this class provides a similar long track record for teams.
Georgia infielder Brady House has been on the radar playing in Perfect Game events since he was 12 years old. His size, power, and arm strength immediately moved him to the top of the class as he grew rather quickly as a youngster. Since then, he’s added a couple of inches to his current 6’3’’ height and plenty of muscle to his 210 pound frame. That size is more similar to potential draftees in college than what you would expect from a player that is just turning 18 in June.
Defensively, House has all the tools one would want in an infielder on the left side with smooth movement, good head movement on the move, and good hands. The arm is outstanding with 96 mph velocity on the hill, and while some team may run him out to shortstop in his younger years, I can’t imagine the body or the foot speed (7 sec 40) will allow him to stay there. The defensive toolset is very reminiscent of Mike Moustakas as a shortstop with good hands, a big arm, and lacking the speed to stick at the position.
The offensive side brought some questions this summer after years of showing off his hit and power tool. As a member of Team USA he put one on the roof in an international tournament. His struggles in the summer showcase circuit dinged his stock despite that long track record in PG tournaments and international competition. Still, one should like the amount of power he can generate in his short and simple swing, as seen in Kiley McDaniel’s video below. Comparing this video to his summer swing is that he didn’t look like he was trying to create as much torque to speed up his bat at the finish. With his strength, he’s going to generate exit velocity naturally. It appeared that the upper half got out of whack in the summer, and he was trying to create bat speed while also expanding his zone. This simplified swing with less upper body torque should get lots of hits and longballs at the next levels if he controls the strike zone.
Brady House goes 3 for 3 with 2 more HRs today pic.twitter.com/PqUvpWBVf9— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) February 21, 2021
The Royals have built a system full of college arms that are close to the big leagues. Drafting a college bat that could move quickly through a system would make sense and likely what many fans will clamor for. Unfortunately, the college bats are thin this year, with Alex Binelas and Jud Fabian’s struggles pushing them from hopeful Top 10 talents to likely late 1st rounders, if not below. Taking a bat with a long track record like House would make plenty of sense and fit quite well in rebuilding the system. Maintaining a simpler, less torqued-out swing could give the Royals a 30+ home run hitter with plus defensive characteristics at the hot corner. Much like Witt when he was drafted, people might be grading the hit tool a tad lower than what it is based on that summer look.
The sum of the parts make for a high ceiling and the track record is longer than one showcase period. It’s a profile similar to Mike Moustakas that took just three full seasons to make the big leagues, even as a high schooler. It’s also a track record that fits the Royals MO.