If you are a Royals fan you are probably aware that the Kansas City Royals were reported to have a pre-draft deal in place to select University of Miami Catcher, Yasmani Grandal 4th overall. Plenty of Royals writers/bloggers subsequently came out in support of the selection of Grandal. Michael published a post on Saturday relaying the news and I took the opportunity (via the comments) to voice my skepticism of the report and question the wisdom of the pick. I’m not on the overflowing Grandal bandwagon, and if he is selected by the Royals I will probably dedicate an article recounting why that is.
Now it is Monday morning and it turns out that someone in the media reported rumor as fact. There is no deal done with Grandal. As it turns out, industry experts don’t even believe that Grandal is the Royals preferred choice assuming Harper, Machado, and Taillon are off the board when they pick.
(more after the jump)
Baseball America’s Jim Callis was on Sports Radio 810 WHB this morning with Steven St. John and plainly stated that the belief in and around baseball is that the Royals will select Florida Gulf Coast University LHP-Chris Sale. He went on to say that Grandal is their “Plan B” if Sale’s contract demands are excessive. Callis backs up his statements on the radio in his own mock draft which was updated this morning (BA Subscription Required). Normally I steer clear of quoting content from subscription sources, but since he stated the same thing on the radio this morning for public consumption, this is what Jim had to say in his mock draft about the Royals at #4. [Update: I just realized that unlike previous BA mock drafts, the latest one is free to read so enjoy whether you are a subscriber or not!]
A report over the weekend claimed Kansas City had a deal done with Miami catcher Yasmani Grandal, but nothing is in place. Several industry sources believe the Royals prefer Florida Gulf Coast lefthander Chris Sale to Grandal, and if both players prove too expensive for their tastes, they could go for Texas-Arlington outfielder Michael Choice or Citadel righthander Asher Wojciechowski.
Of course it depends on who you want to believe and we really won’t know until the pick is made tonight, but if I am hitching my wagon to anyone when it comes to the draft, it’s going to be the guys at Baseball America.
With my wagon hitched to Callis and company, it’s looking like that Yasmani Grandal article won’t be necessary.
While I am at it, I wanted to touch on this commonly held belief in baseball circles that the Royals are starved for catching prospects. I understand why people who see things only on a macro level would think the team has a glaring need at the position. After all, Jason Kendall is under contract and playing every day at the major league level. On the micro level however the Royals are in pretty good shape in terms of prospects at the position, especially relative to their peers. That is the key here, to understand a specific team’s needs and place in the landscape of baseball, you have to be aware of what the other teams have on hand.
The Kansas City Royals have three catchers ranked among their top 30 prospects.
#3 Wil Myers
#20 Salvador Perez
#21 Jose Bonilla
They also have Manuel Pina. He didn’t crack the top-30, but he does project as a solid major league backup.
If you are wondering how that compares to the other 29 organizations*, you came to the right place. Before we go on, however, I should point out that does not take into account what each organization has at the position at the major league level and that not all organizations are created equally. It is much easier to crack the top-30 in the Astros system than it is to crack the top-30 in the Rangers or Rays systems. For a point of reference, the Royals were regarded to have a middle of the pack farm system heading into the 2010 season. Baseball America had Kansas City ranked 17th, but I have seen some sources have them as high as 9th.
*(All rankings come from the 2010 edition of the Baseball America Prospect Handbook)
Arizona Diamondbacks : Rossmel Perez (22) and John Hester (25)
Atlanta Braves : Christian Bethancourt (6) and Jesus Sucre (27)
Baltimore Orioles : Caleb Joseph (10) and Michael Ohlman (15)
Boston Red Sox : Tim Federowicz (22), Luis Exposito (23) and Mark Wagner (25)
Chicago Cubs : Robinson Chirinos (26) and Wellington Castillo (27)
Chicago White Sox : Tyler Flowers (2), Miguel Gonzalez (10) and Josh Phegley (11)
Cincinnati Reds : Devin Mesoraco (30)
Cleveland Indians : Carlos Santana (1) and Lou Marson (11)
Colorado Rockies : Wilin Rosario (3), Michael McKenry (13) and Jordan Pacheco (18)
Detroit Tigers : Alex Avila (6) and Dusty Ryan (26)
Florida Marlins : Kyle Shipworth (7) and Brett Hayes (26)
Houston Astros : Jason Castro (1)
Los Angeles Angels : Hank Conger (1), Carlos Ramirez (20) and Bobby Wilson (26)
Los Angeles Dodgers : Lucas May (17) and Gorman Erickson (30)
Milwaukee Brewers : Jonathan Lucroy (5) and Angel Salome (15)
Minnesota Twins : Wilson Ramos (2) and Jose Morales (27)
New York Mets : Josh Thole (8)
New York Yankees : Jesus Montero (1), Austin Romine (2), Gary Sanchez (7) and J.R. Murphy (8)
Oakland Athletics : Max Stassi (4), Josh Donaldson (14), Ryan Ortiz (21) and Josh Leyland (29)
Philadelphia Phillies : Travis d’Arnaud (4) and Sebastian Valle (7)
Pittsburgh Pirates : Tony Sanchez (3)
St. Louis Cardinals : Robert Stock (10) and Bryan Anderson (19)
San Diego Padres 
San Francisco Giants : Buster Posey (1), Tommy Joseph (6) and Johnny Monell (22)
Seattle Mariners : Adam Moore (3) and Steve Baron (25)
Tampa Bay Rays : Luke Bailey (12) and Jake Jefferies (29)
Texas Rangers : Max Ramirez (11) and Tomas Telis (26)
Toronto Blue Jays : J.P. Arencibia (2) and Carlos Perez (10)
Washington Nationals : Derrek Norris (2) and Adrian Nieto (25)
Suddenly the Royals stockpile of catchers in the minor leagues doesn’t look so bad does it? Outside of the Yankees, and maybe a few other organizations, the Royals minor league depth and quality at the position stacks up favorably. I know everyone is quick to point out that Kansas City can just shift Wil Myers to another position, but that glosses over the fact that the kid is on record saying that he loves to catch. He wants to catch and until he proves to me that he can’t catch, I’m not moving him to another position.
All of this doesn’t even touch on my draft philosophy that you always take the best player available regardless of need or depth at any given position.
The Royals don’t need Yasmani Grandal any more than any other organization outside of the New York Yankees. Yasmani Grandal is not a franchise cornerstone catcher in the mold of Matt Wieters, Joe Mauer, Carlos Santana or Buster Posey. It is true that after the “big three” the next tier contains around 20 players who are all relatively close when factoring risk, upside, and ability. Yasmani Grandal is a part of that 2nd tier but he is definitively not the 4th best player available in this draft.
Based on talent and value, LHP-Chris Sale or LHP-Drew Pomeranz should be the Royals pick. Pitching truly is the currency in baseball and you can never have enough currency.