KC Royals MLB Draft: Nick Gonzales presents a high floor
By Jordan Foote
Nick Gonzales is an exciting prospect as an infielder with a high floor. How well does he fit into the KC Royals’ plans for the future?
The KC Royals are a day away from making their second-consecutive top-five draft pick. Arizona State’s Spencer Torkelson and Vanderbilt’s Austin Martin are expected to be the first two players off the board, but even that is far from a sure thing. Assuming they do go one and two, respectively, who goes at three is left up for debate.
After that, the board opens up for Kansas City to make its pick. New Mexico State infielder Nick Gonzales has garnered plenty of attention from mock drafts and Kings of Kauffman writers alike. His makeup as a player and impressive numbers to this point combine to make him an enticing prospect. Should the Royals consider taking him with the fourth overall pick? Let’s decide.
Gonzales’ college numbers should make the KC Royals very excited
Gonzales is a high-profile hitter who put up tremendous numbers in the Western Athletic Conference. In 2019, he hit a scorching .432 and went yard 16 times. He was arguably the best player in all of college baseball to start this season, posting a .448/.610/1.155 line while clubbing 16 home runs in the process.
In addition to tearing it up in the college ranks, Gonzales was last summer’s Cape Cod Baseball League MVP. Hitting .351 with seven home runs in 42 games, he put together quite the slate of games and certainly helped his draft stock before heading back to school. The case for Gonzales at No. 4 starts and ends with his insane level of production in college.
There are a few concerns the KC Royals should take into account
The most common knock on Gonzales is that the level of competition he played in the WAC was inferior. While that may be true, those doubts should’ve been extinguished after he put on a show in the CCBL last summer. His tools are legitimate, so that worry should be a minor one at best. Could the environment in New Mexico have made for a more impressive display of power? Sure. That should be a more pressing concern than the actual competition itself.
Two more things to consider: position and ceiling. Gonzales is merely a solid athlete with solid potential as a defender as a shortstop. Whether he can stick at shortstop long-term is a legitimate question. Things should look a lot better defensively if he moves to second base, but that lack of top-tier athletic ability and arm strength puts a cap on his ceiling as a player. Instead of being a star, he could be limited to being just a good player. Teams could have worse problems, I suppose *rolls eyes*.
Assessing Gonzales’ fit with the KC Royals long-term
The future of the Royals’ infield will be quite interesting. Between shortstop and second base, names like Adalberto Mondesi, Bobby Witt Jr., Nicky Lopez and Gonzales could all fit into the picture there. Witt and Mondesi are premier athletes, so perhaps moving Witt to third base and sending Mondesi to the center field would be a good idea? That way, Lopez could be the starting shortstop (he would be much better defensively than Gonzales) and Gonzales can play a more natural position (second base).
If the Royals select Nick Gonzales on Wednesday, I’ll be a relatively happy camper. While he likely won’t turn into an elite player at the next level, his floor is absurdly high and he should move through the minor league ranks quickly. He fits the timeline the franchise has in mind and the organizational depth chart has enough flexibility to make some position changes to accommodate him moving to second base in the future. It’s a win-win situation for all parties involved.