The KC Royals went into Thursday’s Rule 5 draft with an open spot on the 40-man roster. Not only did Kansas City fail to draft anyone during the major-league portion of the draft, they also lost pitchers Daniel Strumpf and Glenn Sparkman.
One would have thought the Kansas City Royals would have been better off filling up their 40-man roster rather than losing two pitchers. Kansas City did take pitcher Kelvin Magallanes from the Yankees in the minor-league portion of the draft, but they don’t have to keep him on their 40-man roster according to the current collective bargaining agreement.
So, what gives? Was general manager Dayton Moore asleep at the wheel?
I doubt it. Moore’s Royals won the 2015 World Series for a reason. Pretty much the only conclusion that makes sense to me is that the KC Royals WANTED to take someone in the major-league portion of the draft, but another team beat them to the punch.
Whatever his reasons might have been, the result is that Kansas City lost Stumpf and Sparkman.
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The Philadelphia Phillies took Daniel Stumpf from Kansas City in the 2016 Rule 5 draft, but cut him after major league hitters rocked him for a 10.80 ERA in 5.0 innings pitched. Philadelphia then had to offer the 25-year-old left back to the KC Royals for half the $50,000 draft fee. Stumpf dominated at AA NW Arkansas, posting a 2.11 ERA in 21.1 IP with an outstanding 11.0 K/9. This strong performance led division-rival Detroit to take a Rule 5 flier on Stumpf this season.
Meanwhile, the 24-year-old Sparkman pitched at four levels in the KC Royals system in 2016. That movement wasn’t due to rapid development. Instead, Sparkman underwent Tommy John surgery early in 2015 after a stellar 2014 season. Thus, the Kansas City Royals front office started him in rookie league ball and stair-stepped him back up to AA by season’s end. The Toronto Blue Jays liked Sparkman enough that they took him in the Rule 5 draft.
The Tigers and Blue Jays will need to keep both players on their 25-man roster for the entirety of the 2017 season, or else offer their draftees back to Kansas City for $25,000.
KC Royals Claim Magallanes
On the other hand, the KC Royals took 22-year-old righty pitcher Kelvin Magallanes in the minor-league portion of the draft. Magallanes has hardly impressed anyone with his 6.42 ERA in 160.2 innings pitched since his debut in 2012 as a 17-year-old, but he hasn’t given up a single home run in five years of rookie ball.
Kansas CIty Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo told the Kansas City Star’s Rustin Dodd:
"“It was that skill that attracted us,” Picollo said. “It’s one skill that you try to identify and he stood out quite a bit.”"
The bottom line is that neither Stumpf or Sparkman appear to be major losses. However, they could have provided bullpen depth in Kansas City if they have strong seasons.