The MLB Draft begins Thursday night with the first round, then follows with the remaining rounds on Friday and Saturday.
It’s an opportunity to fill a farm system with new prospects, and while the later rounds are important, the attention goes to the first round picks. If you get the right first round pick, it can set up your organization with a top prospect and, if you get the right player, an impact player in a short amount of time. First round picks are scrutinized more than any other, right or wrong.
The Royals select eighth on Thursday in a draft that’s considered to be weaker than most in recent memory. There’s no no obvious number one pick like in years past when Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper were selected (but Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray are the likely first two picks), and the top ten picks could go in many different directions. The Royals pick eighth, a spot where they’ll find talent, but it’s less predictable as to who might be available for them.
Back in March, Tony Botts looked at some potential names that may be available. Now, three months later, scouts have weighed in and some players have moved up boards, some have moved down.
Opinions vary widely, and selections before the Royals pick can change what direction they go in dramatically*, so it makes it difficult to project who’ll be available at their pick. That doesn’t stop numerous experts, analysts, and writers from trying though.
*In 2011, Danny Hultzen was a surprise pick at #2 by the Seattle Mariners, who were expected to go after Anthony Rendon with Hultzen possible for the Diamondbacks or Orioles. That could have left the Royals with the option between Dylan Bundy or Bubba Starling. There were reports that the Royals and Bundy had preliminary contract terms lined up and it’d be interesting to see what decisions may have been different as a result.
Mock Draft Results
- Baseball America: RHP Braden Shipley, Nevada (#8 ranked draft prospect)
- Keith Law (ESPN) Mock 3.0: RHP Phil Bickford, Oaks Christian HS, Westlake Village, CA
- Keith Law (ESPN) Mock 2.0: RHP Ryne Stanek, Arkansas
- Keith Law (ESPN) Mock 1.0: LHP Sean Manaea, Indiana State
- Sports Illustrated: OF Austin Meadows, Grayson (Georgia) HS
- Bleacher Report: Stanek
- Minor League Ball: Shipley
- MLB Draft Insider: 1B/3B, DJ Peterson, New Mexico
- My MLB Draft: LHP Trey Ball, New Castle (Indiana) HS
Additionally, the Sporting News listed Meadows and Shipley as potential Royals picks. Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star listed six potential selections: Shipley, Ball, Bickford, Stanek, RHP Kohl Stewart (St Pius X HS, Houston), and RHP Alex Gonzalez (Oral Roberts).
A Few Scouting Notes
Shipley is a converted shortstop who started pitching full-time last year. His fastball sits around 92-95 according to Law, who also adds that his changeup is his best pitch. He’s an athletic player and is said to be “fearless“. KC Kingdom loves his athleticism.
Bickford is the high-upside, high-risk pick. He’s got the potential for an upper 90s fastball and is already hitting 95-96 according to Baseball America. He needs to develop a breaking pitch if he’s going to make it as a pro.
Stanek is a local kid (Blue Valley High School) who was a highly regarded pick in 2010 who the Mariners took in the third round. He passed that up to go to Arkansas and now has a chance to be a top ten pick. He’s had some velocity loss and control hasn’t been as sharp as before, but Dutton reported that some scouts think a small adjustment would get him back on track.
Ball has “no red flags” according to Baseball America, and the tall (6’6″) lefty has a mid-90s fastball and a developed changeup. His father kept him from throwing a curveball until he was a junior in high school, but Law reports that he has gotten a feel for it already.
Meadows is a speedy high school outfielder with power potential and should offer good defense as well.
The Royals play it close to the vest in general anyway, so they won’t give much indication about where they’re going in the draft. Odds are that they’re looking for a college arm which leans towards Stanek or Shipley, though Keith Law has said that the Royals haven’t scouted Stanek much.
In previous years, it was speculated that the Royals were going to take Yasmani Grandal or Chris Sale (in 2010) and reports even had the Royals ready with an agreement for Grandal. In the end, they took Christian Colon, so a lot of the reports of who teams are prepared to take can turn out to be incorrect in the end.