Kansas City Royals Five Best Draft Picks in Team History

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Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

5. Zack Greinke – 1st round, 2002

Zack Greinke walked a strange path early in his career. The sixth overall pick in the 2002 draft, Greinke had reached the majors by 2004, compiling an 8-11 record with a 3.97 ERA and a 1.166 WHiP as he finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year vote that season. It was certainly a promising start to Greinke’s career.

Then Greinke had a disastrous 2005 season. He was 5-17, leading the American League in losses while posting a miserable 5.80 ERA and a 1.563 WHiP. Things were bad enough where Greinke’s anxiety issues almost got the best of him, as he took most of the 2006 season off, contemplating retirement at the age of 22 to mow lawns instead.

Fortunately, Greinke chose to remain in baseball, as he was one of the few bright spots for the Royals in the late 2000’s. His 2009 season, when Greinke won the Cy Young award with a 16-8 record, a 2.16 ERA and a 1.073 WHiP, was one of the greatest seasons in the history of the Kansas City Royals. For a team that won only 65 games, Greinke was a true force atop the rotation.

Even when he departed, Greinke was able to benefit the Royals. The trade that sent him to the Milwaukee Brewers let someone else take on Yuniesky Betancourt, which was a minor miracle in it’s own right. The trade also brought back cornerstones Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar, along with Jake Odorizzi, who was then flipped with other prospects for James Shields.

Zack Greinke’s career with the Kansas City Royals was certainly worthy of inclusion on this list, but the return they got for him helped set the stage for the team the Royals have become. Greinke’s selection has been the pick that just keeps on giving in Kansas City.

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