The KC Royals have seen success in some of their more recent draft classes, but that doesn’t mean they have drafted only winners in the last decade.
The MLB draft is an interesting time to pay attention to baseball. There are lots of big names to watch and remember and for teams like the KC Royals, fans are hoping they will be seeing the future of their team come across as a pick.
During the past few drafts, the KC Royals have done a good job of picking what they feel are the best available players, mainly pitchers. They have been able to put together a talented group of pitching prospects, with a few position players scattered in, and look to be on track for a bright future.
Still, that’s doesn’t mean that all of the Royals draft picks of the last decade panned out as hoped. It’s not unheard of for a high pick to not live up to their potential, or what is said to be their potential.
One thing leads to another and players at times either struggle to translate their success to the majors, fall behind in the minors, or struggle through injury.
According to Overtime Heroics and Mathias Altman-Kurosaki, the Royals, unfortunately, own two of the top ten draft busts of the last decade.
The first, who is ranked number ten, is Kyle Zimmer. Zimmer was drafted in the first round (fifth) of the 2012 draft by the KC Royals. Zimmer was able to work his way through the minors with decent numbers, but he was no stranger to injury.
It seemed that every time he was ready to get back on track, another injury kept him from playing. The Royals stuck with him and he eventually made it to the majors. his 2019 test was not successful, but in 2020 he pitched 23.0 innings with an ERA of 1.57 and FIP of 2.36, striking out 26.
It’s understandable why Zimmer was listed as a bust, but due to his complications with injury, it feels as though he was just set back. If his 2020 season was any indication of what he may be able to bring to the mound, Zimmer may be able to silence some of the concerns and talk of being a bust.
The second Royal listed as a bust is Bubba Starling. Starling was listed at number four. Starling, like Zimmer, was drafted in the first round (fifth), but in the year prior, 2011. There were high hopes for Bubba, with is outfield defensive capability, many though there could be another Alex Gordon like player destined to roam the fields of Kauffman.
Unfortunately, that time didn’t come quickly for Bubba. He worked his way through the minor leagues, also battling injury at times, but saw ups and downs as he moved through the varying levels. He finally got his chance in 2019, but struggled offensively, slashing .215/.255/.317.
He got another shot in 2020 but fell short again slashing .169/.219/.237. The Royals recently non-tendered Starling, but shortly after signed him back to a minor league contract.
He will get another chance to show that he can make it, but he will have to beat out the mass of outfield prospects the Royals have acquired over the past few seasons. Starling was a hometown kid who many hoped would succeed. The Royals don’t seem ready to give up on him yet, but that doesn’t take away his status as a bust.
While the Royals may be sitting with two big busts in the last decade, things seem to be moving in the right direction. Kyle Zimmer looks as though he may finally be finding his footing and will produce in the majors, and so far, the past few draft classes have been progressing nicely, and are starting to show up in the majors.
Drafting can be a tricky thing, and hopefully, the Royals have found the secret to success and can avoid busts going forward.
Kyle Zimmer and Bubba Starling have been listed as two of the top busts of the last decade. Zimmer showed some life in 2020, but Starling has some work to do before he can clear his name.