Yesterday, I took a look at pitchers the Royals could take in the Rule 5 draft, today it’s the hitters. It seems rather unlikely the Royals will select a hitter when the draft takes place at 4 p.m. CT. The last hitter they selected in the Rule 5 draft was outfielder Endy Chavez in 2000. But a few hitters selected in the draft have done fairly well with outfielder Akil Baddoo having a successful rookie season with the Tigers after the last Rule 5 draft in 2020, and Anthony Santander, Ji-Man Choi, and Mark Canha selected in the last decade.
The best hitters available are first basemen, but with the Royals already stocked there (Ryan O’Hearn and some other guys), I won’t include any. I also doubt the Royals snag a catcher (they’re said to be looking for a veteran backup) and their depth is fine at middle infield. So I’ll focus only on third basemen and outfielders.
Andres Chaparro, Yankees
If the Royals are looking for someone to put the ball in play, Chaparro could be their man. The 23-year-old Venezuelan had a strikeout rate of 19.8 percent, yet still managed to hit 20 home runs in 71 games. He has had injury issues the last two seasons, but he has produced when healthy, batting .296/.370/.592, primarily in Double-A last year. His defense has some question marks, but Chaparro could be an underrated right-handed bat.
Logan Davidson, Athletics
Davidson is primarily a shortstop, but he can also play third, and that positional versatility could be an asset. A former first-round pick out of Clemson, the A’s were hoping his power would translate into more home runs, but he hit just 14 in 111 games in Double-A with a line of 252/.337/.406. The 24-year-old switch-hitter plays solid defense and can run a bit with solid plate discipline as evidenced by an 11 percent walk rate last year. He played pretty well in the Arizona Fall League, and could at least be a nice utility player.
Malcolm Nuñez, Pirates
Teams were surprised Nunez was left unprotected, as the Pirates just acquired him from the Cardinals this summer for Jose Quintana. The Cuban was a third baseman with a strong arm up until this year, but in 2022 he primarily played first base. Despite a shorter stature, he has intriguing raw power and smacked 23 home runs in 119 games with a line of .262/.367/.466. He won’t turn 22 until March, so he is still very young with more potential and has a high chance of being selected.
Jake Slaughter, Cubs
The former LSU Tiger has an 80-grade name, and he developed more power this year with 23 home runs in 106 games, mostly at Double-A. He mostly played third base, but can also play some second as a right-handed bat, which might make him a good option for when Michael Massey needs to sit against tough lefties. The 26-year-old hit .284/.381/.514 with a 10 percent walk rate, but teams will have to determine if his season was a new level of performance or a flukey outlier.
Ross Adolph, Astros
Adolph would be your God of Walks, with a 20 percent walk rate last year in Double-A. He had a line of .246/.435/.393 in 59 games at Double-A with just five home runs and he did strike out 30 percent of the time. Adolph has raw power and good exit velocities, but it hasn’t translated into results yet, and perhaps a new organization will unlock more home runs.
Matt Gorski, Pirates
The former second-round pick has good power and speed, hitting 24 home runs with 21 steals in just 81 games. He played in all four levels of the minors, although just one game at Triple-A, but was a bit old for the lower levels at age 24. The right-handed bat is capable of playing all three outfield positions and he hit .280/.358/.598 overall.
Heirberto Hernandez, Rays
Hernandez would be the typical “great raw power, poor contact skills” that you find a lot in the Rule 5 draft. He smashed 24 home runs in 119 games in High-A and hit .255/.368/.499, but also struck out 31 percent of the time. He was sent to the Arizona Fall League, but left after a few games with an oblique injury. MLB Pipeline ranks him #16 in the Rays system, and a team could try to stash him in their outfield.
Korry Howell, Padres
The Royals drafted Howell out of community college in Iowa, but he returned for one more year and ended up going to the Brewers. They shipped him to the Padres for catcher Victor Caratini and Howell responded with his best offensive season, hitting .253/.390/.486 in 48 games in Double-A, although he missed a lot of time with injuries. He is a speedster who can walk and can play all three outfield positions, and even some second and third. That could make him a useful utility player as a right-handed bat.
Corey Julks, Astros
Julks unlocked some more power in 2021, and that culminated in a 31-home run season in Triple-A this year. Unlike some other power hitters on this list, Julks doesn’t have massive strikeout rates, whiffing 21.6 percent of the time last year with an overall line of .270/.351/.503. He can run a bit as well, stealing 22 bases and is capable of playing center although he is more likely a corner outfielder. He will be 27 in February, so he’s not young, but he’s not raw either and could step in right away and contribute.
Luis Mieses, White Sox
Mieses was a big dollar signing out of the Dominican Republic renowned for his power from the left side. He has produced solid, but not spectacular home run numbers in the minors, hitting .284/.326/.447 with 15 home runs in 129 games this year across High-A and Double-A. The 22-year-old hardly walks at all, but doesn’t strike out much either, with a whiff rate of just 16 percent this year. He is a right fielder with a strong arm, but below-average speed.
Kameron Misner, Rays
Mizzou fans will remember Misner, who was a standout for them before becoming a first-round pick by the Marlins in 2019. They traded him to the Rays for Joey Wendle and he hit .251/.384/.431 with 16 home runs and 32 steals in Double-A this year. A toolsy athlete who hits from the left side, Misner will strike out a lot, but he can also draw walks with 86 free passes this year. Misner will turn 25 in January, and while he has the tools to play centerfield, although there are some knocks on his technique.
Jose Ramos, Dodgers
MLB Pipeline ranks him #8 in the LA farm system, but he has yet to play above A-ball. The 21-year-old hit .249/.339/.479 with 25 home runs in 123 games, mostly at High-A. He strikes out a ton, but has terrific raw power and an outstanding outfield arm. A jump to the big leagues would be a gamble for the right-handed hitter, although he did hold his own in the advanced Arizona Fall League.
Ryan Ward, Dodgers
Ward slammed 28 home runs in the hitter-happy Texas League, but he hit 27 in 2021 in High-A, so the power doesn’t seem to be a fluke. Overall, Ward hit .255/.319/.486 from the left side, although he doesn’t walk much. He’s a below-average defender in the corners and doesn’t run well, but could make for some nice pop off the bench.