20 Balls vs Lonnie Goldberg

The inspiration for this post comes from TexLeaguer's recent comment:

It’s probably impossible that the RR dogs wouldn’t have done better over the Goldberg years by just picking one of twenty balls representing the twenty best ranked players left on the board.

There's only one way to find out. I used a random number generator and looked at the 1st round draft picks from 2011-2021 to showcase what could have been different. I assumed that the twenty picks after the Royals were roughly the same as what the twenty best remaining players on the draft boards were.


In the 2011 MLB Draft, the Royals took the hometown kid in Bubba Starling at #5. If, all of sudden, they instead became interested in someone who originally went #17, they would have had CJ Cron.


The Royals once again had the #5 pick and took Kyle Zimmer, who would become synonymous with glass. The generator produced #20, which is another big drop in the level of player that should have been available. This would become Chris Stratton, a reliever on his 4th team. He did have a turnaround at the end of 2022, with a 2.78 ERA with the Cardinals.


This year was one in which Dayton tried to play the under/over slot game. Hunter Dozier was selected at #8 and was signed for $2.2 million. By chance, they would instead have gone with the #17 player in Tim Anderson, who signed for $2.16 million. The Royals then took Sean Manaea at #34. Instead, they would go for #37 in high school OF Josh Hart, who never got past A+ ball and was out of baseball after 2017.


Things get much more complex here, with not a lot to show for. Brandon Finnegan was selected at #17 and became famous for appearing in both the College World Series as well as the World Series in the same year. The Royals opt for #26 instead for Michael Chavis. While Chavis had a promising debut with Boston in 2019 (.766 OPS in 95 games), he has put up an OPS of around .650 in the 3 seasons since then. Notable though is that Chavis was ranked as the #85 overall prospect by Baseball America before 2018. MLB had him at #79 before both the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

At #28, the Royals took Foster Griffin. Taking the #45 player at random instead would have resulted in University of Maryland RHP Jake Stinnett, who has bounced between A-ball and AA with the Cubs. While Chase Vallot was picked at #40, the Royals would have instead doubled down on the Jake's by taking high schooler Jake Gatewood (originally #41 by Milwaukee). Gatewood is currently a 26 year old career minor leaguer.


2015 was the year of Ashe Russell, who took a long break from baseball. These things only happen to the Royals. With Russell at #15, the generator landed on #33, Nolan Watson. This is ironic, and I would rather have someone else to discuss, so a re-roll resulted in #26 aka Taylor Ward. Ward signed for around $500,000 less than Russell and put up a .281/.360/.473 slashline in his first full season with the Angels at age 28.

Determined to replace Nolan Watson, the metaphorical ball that popped up was #42. This corresponds to Cleveland pitcher Triston McKenzie, who was an overslot signee. His $2.3 million signing does miraculously correspond to Watson's approximately $1.8 million deal and the $500,000 saved by opting for Ward.


The mistake of Ian Kennedy led to a forfeiture of the Royals 1st round pick this season. This did not deter me and I found that the Royals would have ended up with the 22nd overall pick due to the large number of free agent signings that year. Interestingly enough, they would use that on the same player selected originally at #22 by the Pirates, 1B Will Craig. Interestingly enough, the Royals had originally picked Craig in the 37th round in 2013 when he was in high school. He ended up in the KBO and was not re-signed there.


The #14 pick was Nick Pratto, who made his rookie debut this past season. Alternatively, the Royals would have ended up with the player taken at #34 in Tristen Lutz. The 23 year old remains at AA with the Brewers and was not in their internal top 30 rankings according to MLB. I did not randomize it, but it was worth mentioning that MJ Melendez was taken in the 2nd round.


This was the year of pitching where the Royals loaded up on college arms. At #18 was Brady Singer, who would have turned into #37 Cadyn Grenier. To put it simply, Grenier has not shown anything in the minors for Baltimore.

At #33 was Jackson Kowar. Instead, we would have had a player taken #50 overall in OF Jameson Hannah. Hannah was rated as Oakland's 8th best prospect in 2019 and traded to the Reds in the Tanner Roark deal. He was subsequently dealt to Colorado in 2020 for Trevor Hoffman. He is not currently in the team's top 30.

#34, Daniel Lynch, would turn into #36, Gunnar Hoglund. He chose not to sign with the Pirates, so I assume the same thing will happen.

The Royal's fourth pick of the first round was Kris Bubic (#40). RHP Owen White would have been the choice instead at #55. White is currently the 59ht best prospect overall according to MLB.


2019 was bound to be interesting. The Royals took Bobby Witt Jr. at #2, hoping he would become a franchise player. The generator showed mercy and allowed the Royals to take the 6th player off the board in CJ Abrams. Abrams has struggled at the major league level, but was considered one of the top prospects in all of baseball. This led him to being the center piece in the Juan Soto deal.

To make up for not signing Hoglund in the last draft, the Royals would have received a compensation pick, which looking back would have been a slot or two ahead of the actual spot Pittsburgh was at. Anyhow, this turned into #53, RHP high schooler Josh Wolf. The Mets originally selected Wolf and included him in the package for Francisco Lindor. Wolf had a 6.35 ERA at A-ball with Cleveland this year.


With us getting closer to present time, the jury is still out on the draft picks taken. College arm Asa Lacy was taken at #4. 2nd baseman Justin Foscue would have been the choice at #14. Justin put up an .850 OPS at AA for Texas this year and ranks as the 78th best prospect in baseball.

#32 pick Nick Loftin would have turned into #43 OF Zach DeLoach . DeLoach showed a knack for drawing walks at AA for Seattle this season and was brought up as a target by fans in a trade involving Merrifield.


The final year I included in this study. The team went with Frank Mozzicato at #7, a highly controversial pick. At #26 (which was still better than Mozzicato's projected draft slot), KC could have had a right-handed prep arm in Chase Petty. Petty was traded to the Reds for Sonny Gray prior to the start of the 2022 season.

The below table captures the players that would have been taken as well as their career WAR. Even if we discount Tim Anderson, random selection comes out ahead by a good margin. While Bobby Witt Jr and Singer are expected to continue to improve, the same could be said for Abrams. Lacy has struggled and with Gavin Cross being the only top 100 prospect the Royals have, they would have benefited from having projected regulars in Owen White and Justin Foscue.


Lonnie's Guys

Career bWAR

Random Dudes

Career bWAR2


Bubba Starling


CJ Cron



Kyle Zimmer


Chris Stratton



Hunter Dozier


Tim Anderson


Sean Manaea


Josh Hart


Brandon Finnegan


Michael Chavis


Foster Griffin


Jake Stinnett

Chase Vallot

Jake Gatewood


Ashe Russell

Taylor Ward


Nolan Watson

Triston Mckenzie



No pick

Will Craig



Nick Pratto


Tristen Lutz


Brady Singer


Cadyn Grenier

Jackson Kowar


Jameson Hannah

Daniel Lynch


Failed to sign

Kris Bubic


Owen White


Bobby Witt Jr


CJ Abrams


Josh Wolf


Asa Lacy

Justin Foscue

Nick Loftin

Zach DeLoach


Frank Mozzicato

Chase Petty




This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.