KC Royals draft check-in: 2017 edition

(Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images) /

The KC Royals made some excellent picks in the middle and later rounds in 2017. Which may just be what ultimately makes it a good draft.

Charlie Neuweiler was a high school pitcher from Queens and was not chosen until the 150th selection of the 2017 draft. In my opinion, he was an absolute steal for the KC Royals. There have been stints in his career when he struggles with his control. But, there have also been extended periods when he is almost unhittable.

Neuweiler’s curveball may ultimately be as good as any in the organization. He just turned 21 years old and has already pitched nearly 250 professional innings. He has also struck out a batter per inning over his career. Last season alone he threw over 148 innings and struck out 153. He has been grossly overlooked ever since the impressive draft class of 2018 came storming into the minor leagues. But, do not sleep on this kid. He may very well be a part of the big league rotation one day. And he was an excellent draft choice.

Thirty picks after Neuweiler the KC Royals chose Tyler Zuber with the 180th pick overall. Zuber has incredible command. And not just for a team that likes to issues walks like the KC Royals, for any organization. Through 55 innings in 2019 he struck out 68 and walked only 16. Through three years in the minors and more than 133 innings, he has issued only 39 walks. He has also struck out nearly a dozen for every 9 innings.

Zuber does not work with an overpowering fastball. Instead, he has an excellent breaking ball and incredible command. He was drafted to become a bullpen piece. I am not sure he ever becomes a lockdown closer, but he can certainly be a late-innings guy. He has only seen 26 innings of AA ball, but do not be surprised if he works his way into the big league bullpen this season.

Brewer Hicklen, an outfielder that also played football in college, was the KC Royals choice in the 2017 draft after Zuber. Hicklen has consistently gotten on base and consistently shown that he can hit with power. Through 1100 plate appearances in the minors he has on OPS over .840. He is now 24 years old and still strikes out too much. But he has absolutely destroyed left-handed pitching and it is time to see what he can in the higher levels of the minor leagues. He has the ability to become an excellent platoon in a corner outfield position.

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