The Royals will add to their farm system this week with the annual MLB draft, to take place during All-Star week in Seattle. There have been some changes to the draft in recent years, so he’s what you need to know.
When is the draft?
MLB Network will begin coverage at 5 p.m. CT with the draft set to begin at 6 p.m. Teams will make 70 selections tonight - Round 1, Competitive Balance Round A, Round 2, Competitive Balance Round B, and compensatory picks. You can also find coverage at MLB.com, ESPN, and ESPN+.
The draft will continue with rounds 3-10 on Monday beginning on 1 p.m. CT on MLB.com. Teams will conclude the draft with rounds 11-20 on Tuesday at 1 p.m. CT on MLB.com.
When will the Royals select?
MLB instituted a draft lottery this year, to discourage tanking, but it was still weighted towards teams in reverse order of the standings. The Royals had the fifth-worst record last year and had a ten percent chance at the top overall pick, but were not selected in the lottery, and will instead have the #8 selection. Subsequent rounds will be in reverse order of the standings, so the Royals will have the #44 overall selection for their second round pick. They will also get the #66 overall pick in Competitive Balance Round B, then will have the fifth pick in each round after that.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have the top pick, followed by the Washington Nationals, Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, and Minnesota Twins. The Los Angeles and New York Mets both had their first-round picks dropped ten spots due to exceeding the luxury tax threshold. The Mariners also get the #29 pick for having Rookie of the Year Julio Rodriguez on the roster all season, part of the incentives to end service time manipulation. You can see the full draft order here.
How much can the Royals spend on draft picks?
Each draft slot is assigned a dollar value by MLB, and each team can spend no more than their total allotted value on all their picks without incurring a tax on the overage and potentially losing draft picks if they exceed their allotment by five percent. The Royals have the ninth-largest bonus pool at $12,313,500, while the Pirates and Tigers have the largest bonus pools. There are rumors they may try to cut an underslot deal with their first round pick to grab a talent in the later rounds that fell due to bonus demands to make an overslot offer.
Is this a good draft? Who will be the top pick?
This draft is considered to be pretty strong with LSU outfielder Dylan Crews a near-consensus top pick. The top of the class is very hitter-heavy with Florida outfielder Wyatt Langford, prep outfielders Walker Jenkins and Max Clark, and LSU right-hander Paul Skenes all considered to be the top five players available. After that there is less consensus, although the position players, particularly college players, are considered to be stronger than the pitchers.
Who will the Royals select?
At the helm for the first time without Dayton Moore J.J. Picollo hasn’t tipped his much on who the Royals might take.
“Our draft philosophy is going to be to take the long-term prospect we can possibly get,” Picollo said. “A guy that we think has the highest ceiling and best return. … It’s 20 new guys this year and that’s exciting.”
This will be the second year scouting director Danny Ontiveros is running the draft, although former scouting director Lonnie Goldberg is still involved in the process. Ontiveros says the draft is hitter-heavy, and “pretty equal with college and high school position players”, adding “there are also some high school pitchers with really good upside.”
As far as whether the Royals will look to cut underslot deals, Ontiveros stresses flexibility.
“Our thought process going into it is that we’re going to take the very best player on the board, and however the signability shakes out, so be it,” Ontiveros said. “If you can sign him for a little less, you can. If not, you just want to secure the player. Right now, there’s still a lot of uncertainty with a couple picks in front of us. I think we have an idea of how it’s shaping up, but you never know. It always throws different things at you.”
The Royals have been most attached to catcher Kyle Teel out of Virginia, prep catcher Blake Michell, and prep pitcher Noble Meyer out of Portland. Vanderbilt outfielder Enrique Bradfield Jr. would be a good fit for Kauffman Stadium, and the Royals have been rumored to have some interest in some of the top high school hitters.
Here’s what the latest mock drafts say:
Callis: Brayden Taylor, 3B, Texas Christian (No. 15)
After the two SEC outfielders, Taylor is the Royals’ favorite college bat. High school catcher Blake Mitchell gets mentioned here a lot and could go in the 7-10 range, fit in the teens or drop into the 20s. Lowder or Dollander would make some sense too.
Mayo: Blake Mitchell, C, Sinton (Texas) HS (No. 14)
There’s interest in Meyer, but many in the industry felt they wouldn’t go the high school pitching route again this year. They could look at the college hitters available, like Teel, as well as the college arms mentioned above, but Mitchell could be a money-saver up this high, allowing the Royals to be aggressive later on.
Kyle Teel, C, Virginia
The Royals have kicked the tires on a lot of high school players. Blake Mitchell, Arjun Nimmala and Noble Meyer are all in play here and at pick Nos. 7 and 9. I think all three teams will land on a college player, though. Teel is in play from pick No. 5 to No. 10 as a lot of the college players in this range are. Brayden Taylor and Enrique Bradfield are other leading options, but I’ve also heard KC wants to cut a deal, and I’m not sure any of the college players do that here. Teel feels most likely, but this one is still a shrug emoji at this point.
Kansas City Royals – Kyle Teel, C, Virginia
They’re linked to two catchers – Teel and high schooler Blake Mitchell – more than any other players, although earlier in the spring I heard them attached to Gonzalez, Wilson and Noble Meyer.
Blake Mitchell, C, Sinton (Texas) HS
There are a lot of underslot rumors for the Royals here at No. 8. Whether that’s a function of draft philosophy or simply where they’ve found themselves on the board is a tougher question. Think back to 202, when Kansas City pulled a surprise and took lefthander Frank Mozzicato at pick No. 7 and signed him to a $3.55 million deal for almost $2 million in savings. Texas catcher Blake Mitchell is the name that could make sense, though Mitchell is more highly regarded than Mozzicato at the time and I’m not sure how much savings that deal would net. He’s more of a split-camp sort of player given some teams’ aversion to prep catchers, but those who like Mitchell think he could be a star. Florida shortstop Adrian Santana could be another player they like, for this pick or a later one, and they are also linked with Noble Meyer, Rhett Lowder, Chase Dollander and the college hitting trio of Brayden Taylor, Jacob Wilson and Kyle Teel. There’s no shortage of options here and this could also be the high-water mark for Matt Shaw.
Update: No real update here, I’m sticking with Blake Mitchell because he’s so heavily associated with the club for this pick. If he doesn’t go here he could potentially slip down into the back of the first. All of the top arms could make sense here, too.
Dart Throw Later Picks: SS Adrian Santana; RHP TJ Nichols
Draft player profiles: