KC Royals draft check-in: 2015 edition

(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /
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KC Royals, Nick Dini
(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

Once you get past the young pitchers in the 2015 draft, there were several hitting prospects. Most of those early picks also did not go well.

The KC Royals would use their picks in the third, fifth, and sixth rounds on college center-fielders. Anderson Miller now has over 1000 plate appearances in AA with an OPS under .700. Roman Collins was never able to hit enough to get above Wilmington and is now out of the organization. Cody Jones at least made it to AA ball for 41 games. But he was also never able to hit consistently and is no longer in the organization.

There are a few late rounds picks worth revisiting from 2015. Gabriel Cancel was selected in the 7th round. In 2019, his age 22 season, he was able to put together a respectable performance in AA. He was inconsistent but showed some real pop for a second baseman. He needs to take another step forward in 2020. But he is still young enough that if he does continue to improve he has the potential to become a major league player.

Nicholas Dini played in 20 games for the KC Royals last season. He was the 14th round pick in 2015. I do not believe anyone sees more than possible backup catcher in Dini’s future. But the guy can hit. His OPS in Omaha last season was .934. He has consistently hit at or above .300 in his minor league career. I would consider that to be a nice pickup in the 14th round of any draft.

Emmanuel Rivera was drafted in the 19th round of 2015. A lot of scouts have said a lot of good things about the swing of Emmanuel Rivera. He is a hard guy to strike out. But, he also does not walk a lot and he has shown almost no pop. Through 455 minor league games, his Slugging Percentage is still under .400. I just do not see that becoming a big league third baseman. He is more of a poor man’s Kelvin Gutierrez, at this point.

Jake Kalish was chosen in the 32nd round of the 2015 draft. 2020 will be his age 28 season. He has yet to pitch in the big leagues. But he did make it through 127 innings in 2019, most of which he spent enduring the wrecking ball that is the Pacific Coast League. And, he had a reasonable ERA of 4.86 to show for it. Kalish does not have overpowering stuff. He strikes out about seven hitters per nine innings. But he also does not give up walks, which is very strange for a pitcher in the KC Royals organization. He issues less than two walks per 9 innings. I think he may get a shot for the big-league club this year, in some capacity. Not bad for a pick in the 32nd round.