The KC Royals selected an outfielder with boom-or-bust potential in this year’s MLB Draft. Tyler Gentry could turn out to be a great value pick one day.
As the KC Royals gear up for what will finally bring us the return of baseball, their 2020 draft class is signing and officially joining the organization. Alabama outfielder Tyler Gentry is a member of that group, and he’s just as exciting a prospect as his counterparts.
Gentry, who went to high school in Tennessee, began his collegiate career at the JUCO level when he led Walters State Community College to the finals of the 2018 Junior College World Series. His .379/.472/.729 line was phenomenal, catching the eyes of many. Having proven he can dominate at the JUCO level, Gentry transferred to Alabama for the 2019 campaign. The immediate return on the team’s investment was impressive.
In his first season with the Crimson Tide, Gentry hit .310 with 13 home runs and 42 RBIs in 56 games. His power potential was on full display, and a .931 OPS made him one of the more productive Division-I hitters as a sophomore.
In 44 contests with the Cape Cod League’s Brewster Whitecaps last summer, Gentry’s numbers took a significant hit. While a .267/.315/.420 line wasn’t the end of the world, it wasn’t what many expected from the hard-hitting outfielder. He came out of the gate swinging in 2020, though.
Brad Bohannon’s squad saw a different player this season. Albeit in just 17 games, Gentry’s entire arsenal was on full display. Both his .429 BA and 1.304 OPS were among the tops in all of college baseball, and his draft stock skyrocketed as a result. Kings of Kauffman’s Tyler Dierking broke down the pick.
Aside from boasting plus raw power, Gentry’s game is well-rounded in many aspects. MLB.com’s scouting report tipped its cap to Gentry’s “underrated athleticism,” adding, “He has solid speed and arm strength, enabling him to provide quality defense in right field.” While he can play anywhere in the outfield, right field is probably the long-term answer for him.
The only major question mark surrounding Gentry is his approach at the plate. He’s an aggressive hitter by nature, so there’s a lot of swing-and-miss tendency that will need to be ironed out. As he advances through the minor leagues, the competition will only become increasingly difficult. That doesn’t bode well for a high-strikeout hitter with good-but-not-elite power.
With that said, don’t worry just yet. Gentry’s improved confidence and performance in 2020 led to a lower strikeout rate (10 in 17 games compared to 51 in 56 games the year prior and 43 during the CCBL), so there’s certainly hope. He can turn things around, and there’s evidence to suggest he may already be doing so.
And if he really does: watch out. The KC Royals may have drafted a right fielder that can not only hold down his position in the field, but hit 20-25 home runs a season at his peak and get on base at a decent rate to boot. That’d be quite a productive player.