There isn’t much else we can say about our beloved Royals. They lost 12 straight games and completed a winless season opening home stand. Their lack of timely hitting and an inconsistent bullpen have combined for a disastrous start to the 2012 season. I’ve had enough of discussing what’s going wrong and who’s to blame. That’s why I’d like to focus my attention on a few bright spots in recent years. I’m talking about the MLB draft and the solid job the Royals have done in drafting their talent. With the MLB first-year player draft looming merely a month away, I’d like to recap the past 5 first round picks and evaluate them now as well as what their future might hold.
First, let’s look at 2007 first rounder Mike Moustakas. A highly-touted high school kid out of Chatsworth, CA, Moustakas was drafted 2nd overall and signed on the deadline of August 15 for $4 million dollars. Moustakas garnered some accolades in the minor leagues, including being named the 2010 Texas League Player of the Year. Moose has been a top prospect entering every season in his professional career. He has started off this season very well and has produced at the plate and on defense. He will always have a tremendous amount of power and there was a question about his glove. Thus far, he has shown vast improvement in the field and I like the way he has adjusted to major league pitching. He’s not getting himself out nearly as much as he was last year. Moose should put together a few 40+ homerun seasons when all is said and done and earn himself a few All-Star bids as well. It has always seemed it’s taken him a little while to adjust to each level, and it’s finally looking like he is coming around at the major league level on a consistent basis.
In 2008, the Royals took American Heritage High School star, Eric Hosmer. We all know how good this kid is, but there was a time he struggled early in his professional career. It wasn’t until he had vision correction surgery that his career took off at the plate. He hit so well in early 2011, the Royals were practically forced to call him up to Kansas City. He finished 3rd in the American League Rookie of the Year voting and is well on his way to a phenomenal career. He should have a similar career path as Cincinnati Reds first baseman, Joey Votto. Hosmer will most likely play in multiple All-Star games and find himself in the top 10 in MVP voting in the prime of his career. The Royals did a great job of drafting the corner of their infield for several years to come in back-to-back drafts.
*Also in the supplemental first round, the Royals selected left-handed pitcher Mike Montgomery.
Aaron Crow was selected 12th overall by the Royals in the summer of 2009. He had been previously drafted by the Washington Nationals in the first round of the 2008 draft but elected not to sign. Crow had a rocky road to the majors, but has found a calling in a bullpen role. He was named an All-Star last year as a reliever, but it’s yet to be determined if Crow could find a home in the starting rotation anytime during his career. While it certainly is a possibility, I think the closer role is a likely landing spot for the former Mizzou standout. I have faith that he could be a dominant closer for several years as we hope the Royals find themselves in contention for a playoff spot.
Christian Colon was the least impressive pick of the past 5 years. I’m not sold on the fact that Colon is a first round talent. I don’t think he will ever be much more than a Carlos Febles type at second base. He is certainly not going to translate to a shortstop at the major league level, which is what he was at Cal-State Fullerton. Currently, Colon is batting .271 with 1 homerun and 7 RBI for Double-A Northwest Arkansas. He could find his own and be a quality major league player, but I think it’s more reasonable to expect him to be a utility guy at best for several seasons.
The most recent pick was Bubba Starling. Starling was chosen 5th overall out of Gardner Edgerton High School in 2011. At the time of the pick, many people were in favor of the selection. I for one, was all in favor of drafting Bubba. I think he is loaded with immense amounts of raw talent. It will take some seasoning for him to fully tap into his potential, which means his path to the show could be 4 or more years before he is finally called up. Once he is up, his ability will be limitless. He very well could be an MVP candidate for several seasons with Kansas City. I think at the very least, he will be a mainstay in centerfield and a top contributor for what we hope is a contending team. I will be anxiously awaiting the day that Bubba is in the middle of the order with Hosmer and Moose.
I find the MLB draft very entertaining and am anxiously awaiting this year’s draft. The Royals have had their fair share of busts, but lately they have been selecting top notch talent and forking out the money to get these players signed. When the draft creeps a little closer I will have a preview of who the Royals could end up taking and examine some of those players. Let’s just hope they select a Hosmer and not another Chris Lubanski.
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