The MLB draft begins today at 6 p.m. CT with coverage on MLB Network and ESPN. Today teams will select in the first round, competitive balance A picks, second round, and competitive balance B picks. Rounds 3-10 will begin on Monday at 1 p.m., and rounds 10-20 will be held on Tuesday at 1 p.m. Monday and Tuesday’s coverage will stream live online at MLB.com. You can find everything you need to know about the draft here.
Mike Axisa, CBS Sports: SS Zach Neto, Campbell University
The only thing we know about the Royals’ draft strategy is they are the first team seriously considering a pitcher. That doesn’t mean they will draft a pitcher, just that they’re considering it, unlike the clubs ahead of them. With so many good bats on the board, the bet here is the Royals will go that route, and Neto fits their M.O. as an extreme contact hitter and up-the-middle athlete. Gavin Cross makes sense here too.
Jim Callis: MLB Pipeline: OF Gavin Cross, Virginia Tech
The Royals appear to be in the market for a college hitter, though Green could entice them if he falls. They’ve also been linked to Nevada prep outfielder Justin Crawford for a while, and they have interest in Horton as well.
Carlos Collazo, Baseball America: OF Justin Crawford, Bishop Gorman HS (NV)
There are a few college bats that would make sense at No. 9 to Kansas City—with Texas Tech second baseman Jace Jung and Virginia Tech outfielder Gavin Cross foremost among them—but I’ve also continued to hear high school outfielders linked with the Royals, including Justin Crawford and Henry Bolte. We’ve previously mocked Bolte at this pick, but it’s perhaps a bit bold and I haven’t heard much about that one in recent days.
Jett Williams could make sense as well as a potential center fielder (though I imagine whoever drafts him does so as a shortstop) with hitting ability, but Crawford is as solid a link as I have at this point.
If you couldn’t tell, this is around the range where my confidence in the picks and the player pool itself starts to fall off.
Joe Doyle, Prospect Live: RHP Cade Horton, University of Oklahoma
Horton is expected to command a pretty penny wherever he’s selected, but the Royals and their $5.2 million slot bonus should be able to handle the ask. Green being on the board here would be an extremely interesting development and something the Royals would have to consider. But beings they traded some of their bonus pool to Atlanta, it might make a play on Green difficult assuming they’ve had a plan carved out pre-trade.
Keith Law, The Athletic: OF Elijah Green, IMG Academy (FL)
I think this is a dream scenario for the Royals. I’ve heard them with Cross and Neto, as well as Brock Porter and Barriera, although I can’t imagine them doubling down on high school arms after building their whole draft around three of them (Frank Mozzicato, Ben Kudrna and Shane Panzini) last year.
Jonathan Mayo: MLB Pipeline: OF Elijah Green, IMG Academy (FL)
This might be the first firm landing spot for Green if he doesn’t go in Top 3-5 picks, and he also could end up at 11 or 12.
Kiley McDaniel, ESPN: OF Gavin Cross, Virginia Tech
This is where the next juncture of the draft really starts and there have been rumors galore on what the Royals could do here. They could take the first pitcher, it could be a prep pitcher, it could be Cade Horton, it could be the best available college hitter, it could be Justin Crawford on a deal, etc. I think this is also the area where the teams themselves still don’t know who they will take and are actively exploring options.
The Royals’ brass (all the way to the top) was in Omaha to see Horton at the College World Series, and I think he gets a long look from teams starting here and he probably goes by pick 15 because there’s so much interest. In a bad college pitching year, catching fire down the stretch in the biggest games, while also having a high school track record to match, seems to be the most marketable of the options. I’m looking at picks 9 and 10 together as both K.C. and Colorado are more traditional in style, and I think one of them would take Cross and the other Horton in this scenario. Later, the Royals are tied mostly to upside, making me think a cut option is also being explored here, along with Gavin Turley and a number of prep arms like Jacob Miller.
Joel Reuter, Bleacher Report: OF Gavin Cross, Virginia Tech
The Royals have been a popular pick for a below-slot reach after they took a similar approach last year when they selected Frank Mozzicato at No. 7, but here we have them going the best-available route. Cross hit .328/.411/.660 with 14 doubles, 17 home runs and 12 steals this spring after an impressive showing with Team USA last summer.