The Royals have begun graduating several of their top prospects like Bobby Witt Jr., MJ Melendez, and now Vinnie Pasquantino. They will have a chance to replace some of those players on their prospect lists this summer in the draft, where they hold the #9 pick in the first round.
The consensus is that the top of the draft is hitter-heavy, but that could leave the Royals with their pick of any pitcher they want by the time they select. The most recent mock draft at MLB Pipeline has them going for an arm, with high school pitcher Brock Porter.
The consensus among clubs is that the Royals will be the first team to pop a pitcher, and Gatorade national high school player of the year Porter is the best mound prospect available (and also comes without any health questions, a rarity in this class).
Porter is a 6’4’’ right-hander out of St. Mary Prep in Orchard Lake, Michigan in suburban Detroit who won Gatorade Player of the Year in the state last year and won the national award for top high school player this year. His high school team is loaded with catcher Ike Irish also expected to be a high-round pick, and several other teammates committed to major D-I programs. Porter is committed to Clemson, although many expect he is expected to be selected in the first 15 picks of the draft. MLB Pipeline ranks him as the #10 draft prospect, Baseball America ranks him #12 as does Prospects Live, and Keith Law ranks him #18.
Porter has a high ceiling as a pitcher with a big fastball with more room for growth as he fills out. He sits in the mid-90s, but regularly touches 97-98 on the radar gun and has even hit triple digits on occasion. What separates him from other big arms, however, is his plus change up, that Baseball America describes as having “tremendous velocity separation, arm-side fading life and tumbling action”, calling it ”one of the better secondary offerings in the class.” MLB Pipeline also praises the change, noting his “deceptive arm speed” and “outstanding horizontal action.”
Porter also throws a slider and curveball, although it seems like the slider will be the breaking ball he uses at the pro level. Baseball America writes that “scouts believe the slider has a chance to be an above-average offering, but he’ll need more consistency with the pitch.” MLB Pipeline notes he threw some hard 87 mph sliders this year, and is making “encouraging progress” with the pitch.
Porter has walked 42 hitters in 121 innings over the last two seasons and Baseball America writes he is “more of a control-over-command pitcher.” He is already 19 years old, older than some other high school prospects. High school pitchers can be risky, but Porter may give the Royals a more polished arm than most prep pitchers provide with a polished arsenal, while also having the upside of a flamethrower that can throw in the upper-90s. The Royals have used a lot of their draft capital on pitching the last few drafts, but you can never have enough pitching, and Porter could have a higher ceiling than anyone currently in the system.