Royals 2008 Draft Class (Rounds 1-10)

The 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft is just under 4 weeks away.  The draft will take place over 3 days, June 9th through June 11th. Rounds 1-3 will take place on day 1, rounds 4-30 on day 2, and rounds 31-50 on day 3.  MLB Network will be covering the 1st round live with the draft starting at 6 pm EST.  After the 1st round, the live coverage will transition to MLB.com for the remainder of day 1.

The Kansas City Royals have the 12th overall pick in the 1st round and then won’t pick again until the 3rd round when they will make the 91st selection.  They do not have a 2nd round pick since they signed Juan Cruz this past offseason.

Before I embark on trying to figure out who the Royals will take in the 1st round, I thought now would be a good time to take a look back at some picks from previous drafts.  For this edition I have elected to cover the 11 selections the Royals made during the 1st 10 rounds of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.

1B-Eric Hosmer (1st Round / 3rd Overall) American Heritage HS (Plantation, FL)
Low A – Burlington Bees (Royals #2 Prospect)
.225/.341/.315 in 111 AB
Hosmer has hit only 1 HR thus far and is hitting .211 in his last 10 games.  On the surface his numbers may look disappointing, but he has a very pronounced split to take into consideration.  He is hitting .272/.394/.383 against RHP and only .100/.182/.133 against LHP.  The good news is that he is more than holding his own against right handed pitching.  In 81 AB against RHP he has drawn 17 walks and struck out 19 times so he is displaying fairly solid strike zone judgment early on in his career.  Against LHP he has struck out 15 times in only 30 AB with 3 walks.  Hitting off left handed pitching as a left handed hitter is something that typically develops over time so there is no reason to despair.  In fact, many ML quality left-handed hitters never really learn to effectively hit left-handed pitching but still contribute significantly to their teams.  Just ask Mike Jacobs.  If Hosmer turns into Mike Jacobs than this was a heck of a draft pick.  The good news for Royals fans is that Hosmer projects to have even better power and I fully expect him to become much more than “just” Mike Jacobs.  One thing is for sure, it won’t be hard for Hosmer to become a better fielder.

LHP-Mike Montgomery (1s/36) Hart HS (Newhall, CA)
Low A – Burlington Bees (Royals #4 Prospect)
Montgomery got his 1st start and 1st action of the season on May 17th.  In 4.1 IP he gave up 1 H and 4 BB while striking out 7.  He did not give up an earned run. 4.1 innings is not much of a sample size to use for any sort of judgment but coupled with his 2008 results, the future certainly looks bright for him.

2B-Johnny Giavotella (2/49) University of New Orleans
High A – Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals #11 Prospect)
.202/.342/.355 in 124 AB
Giavotella is not a good defensive player so he will have to hit to make it to the majors.  What he has in his favor is a quick compact swing and the ability to get on base even when his batting average is lagging behind.  Having a .342 OBP with a .202 BA is a good sign for his future development.  He played 2008 with Burlington and hit .299/.355/.421 in 278 at bats.  I’m not sure what the Royals have with Giavotella, but they certainly don’t need another bat first, defense second player unless he ends up hitting like Dan Uggla.  There is no one in the minors blocking his path to the majors at the position.  He is already the Royals top prospect at 2B despite having just over 400 minor league at bats under his belt.

RHP-Tyler Sample (3/80) Mullen HS (Denver, CO)
Rookie – AZL Royals (Royals #14 Prospect)
Season does not start until June 21st
In 2008 he had a 9.00 ERA with 29 BB and 39 SO in 27.0 IP.  Sample is 6’7″ and 245 pounds and the Royals believe his control problems correctable.  If he finds some control and improves his mechanics, many believe he has a chance to evolve into a front of the rotation starter.  Of course the same thing has been said of a lot of pitching prospects over the years with live arms and no control.  As Royals fans we simply need to recall the name Colt Griffin to be reminded of that.

RHP-Tim Melville (4/115) Holt HS (Wentzville, MO)
Low A – Burlington Bees (Royals #5 Prospect)
Melville made his organizational debut tonight and is well on his way to earning the 1st round money the Royals paid to their 4th round pick.  He threw 6.0 innings giving up just 2 hits, 1 walk and 1 run to win his 1st start in professional baseball.  Only 19 years old, Melville already throws a mid 90s fastball with a plus curveball and average changeup.  He is mechanically sound and throws effortlessly which should help him avoid injury and quickly ascend through the minors.  Melville could have played college ball for any school in the country and slipped to the 4th round because teams were convinced he was heading off to college.  The Royals drafting him and actually paying him the money he was looking for to turn pro speaks volumes about how far the organization has come since Dayton Moore took over as GM.  The fact that he is from Missouri is just icing on the cake.

LHP-John Lamb (5/145) Laguna Hills HS (CA)
Rookie – AZL Royals (Not in Baseball America Top 30 Royals Prospects)
Season does not start until June 21st
Did not pitch in 2008

OF-Alex Llanos (6/175) Puerto Rico Baseball Academy (Gurabo, PR)
Rookie – AZL Royals (Not in Baseball America Top 30 Royals Prospects)
Season does not start until June 21st
Llanos hit .182/.240/.232 with 14 SB in 203 AB for the AZL Royals in 2008.

3B-Jason Esposito (7/205) Amity Regional HS (Woodbridge, CT)
Did Not Sign
Despite the Royals offering him a seven figure signing bonus, Esposito elected to attend Vanderbilt University.  The Royals record setting $11.1 million paid out in bonuses for their 2008 draft class would have surpassed $12 million if Esposito had signed.  He started in all 56 games for Vanderbilt as a freshman this season and hit .290/.360/.420.

OF-Malcolm Culver (8/235) Palmdale HS (CA)
Rookie – AZL Royals (Not in Baseball America Top 30 Royals Prospects)
Season does not start until June 21st
Culver hit .192/.300/.192 in 26 AB for the AZL Royals in 2008.

SS-J.D. Alfaro (9/265) Grayson County JC (TX)
Low A – Burlington Bees (Not in Baseball America Top 30 Royals Prospects)
In 2008 Alfaro fared well with the Rookie League Idaho Falls Chukars.  In 248 AB he hit .266/.300/.504 with 9 HR and 9 SB.  He has struggled so far in 2009 as he learns to adjust to A ball.  In 97 AB with the Bees Alfaro is hitting .175/.214/.227 with 1 HR and 3 SB.  After hitting just .167 in April he is hitting .189 in May.  It’s not a huge improvement but at least it is an improvement.  Interesting note, Alfaro is hitting .300 in 20 AB against LHP thus far.

C-Mauricio Matos (10/295) Clinton HS (Bronx, NY)
Rookie – AZL Royals (Not in Baseball America Top 30 Royals Prospects)
Season does not start until June 21st
Matos hit .269/.284/.333 in 78 AB for the AZL Royals in 2008

If just one of the above 11 players makes a significant impact at the major league level this draft class will be a success.  I am confident that Hosmer, Montgomery, and Melville will all play in the major leagues.  Unlike the teams of Royals past, they will have actually earned their shot when they get there.  But the success of the 2008 draft class doesn’t rest solely on the shoulders of the Royals top picks.  In my next post I will examine the Royals selections from rounds 11-50.

Tags: AL Central Alfaro Baseball Culver Draft Giavotella Hosmer Kansas City Royals KC Lamb Llanos Mauricio Matos Melville MLB Montgomery Sample

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