KC Royals: Dayton Moore’s biggest draft misses ever

(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /
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KC Royals
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

Dayton Moore has overseen 19 drafts since becoming general manager of the KC Royals. He’s made good picks and bad picks. Which of his first-round selections is the worst?

Some time this year or next, depending on when the pandemic allows baseball to return, the KC Royals are sure to discover whether their top 2018 draft pick can cut major league mustard. All indications are that Brady Singer, an uber-talented pitcher with a “can’t miss” tag, will make his Kauffman Stadium debut before the next season is out.

Singer, the 18th overall pick in ’18, may be the best pitcher the Royals have taken under general manager Dayton Moore, who engineered his first KC draft in 2007. (Some believe Jackson Kowar, at 33rd the club’s other 2018 first-rounder, will challenge Singer for that honor, although he’ll likely get to KC after Singer). The first round hurlers Moore picked before 2018–Aaron Crow, Kyle Zimmer, Brandon Finnegan and Ashe Russell–haven’t panned out as expected, although Zimmer is still in the system and Russell is returning from a leave of absence and subsequent Tommy John surgery.

Moore was a prize hire when he arrived in KC from Atlanta in 2006 (he’d studied the general manager’s trade at the right hand of former Royals’ GM John Schuerholz as Schuerholz brilliantly built Atlanta’s winning machine) and put together the Royals’ 2014 and ’15 World Series teams. But he’s fielded winning clubs in only three of his 13 full seasons, a record due partially to the bad team he inherited, some ill-advised free agent deals, a poor trade or two and a spotty draft record.

Because it’s far too soon to pass judgment on Singer, Moore’s best first-round picks in the 19 drafts he’s overseen (he recused himself in 2006 because he’d worked on Atlanta’s draft strategy before the Royals hired him) are his first two–Mike Moustakas (2007) and Eric Hosmer (2008). Hunter Dozier (2013) is looking good, Christian Colon (more about him later) had his moments and Bubba Starling (more to come on him, also) may not make it in the big leagues. Ranking Nick Pratto (2017) and Bobby Witt Jr. (2019) would be premature.

So with two proven picks, one rounding into that status, and some so-so choices, what have been Moore’s biggest first-round misses? Who could the Royals have picked instead?