MLB Draft: The KC Royals can pass on this position

(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

A week from tonight, after another several days of prognostications, predictions, and projections, the KC Royals will make their first selection in the 2021 amateur draft. Kansas City’s first round pick, the seventh overall, will come six slots after the Pirates, first on the clock because they posted the majors’ worst 2020 record, grab the top pick.

Who the Royals take with the first of their 21 choices won’t be known until it happens. And if you’re looking for a story projecting that pick, this isn’t it.

Instead, this is about a position Kansas City can, and should, ignore. Several premium shortstops are available at the top, but the Royals shouldn’t pick any of them.

Not even Marcelo Mayer, the prep player MLB Pipeline ranks first among its Top 250 players available. Or Jordan Lawlar (No. 3), Kahlil Watson (No. 4), or Brady House (No. 8). And while the odds of one or more of these prime players being available to Kansas City are good, the team simply doesn’t need more shortstops.

They need to pick wisely. Selecting a shortstop will simply add surplus to an already well-stocked inventory.

The KC Royals have an abundance of talented shortstops in the organization.

When he’s healthy and he’s hitting, Adalberto Mondesi is one of the best all-around shortstops in the major leagues. And there’s a long list of Kansas City minor leaguers with the potential to take his place if he isn’t.

Topping the list of Royal shortstop prospects is, of course, Bobby Witt Jr., a supremely talented five-tool player. Witt’s slow start at Double-A Northwest Arkansas headlined the early stages of the Naturals’ 2021 season, but he came alive in mid-May. Witt had three hits Saturday night, including his 13th home run of the season, and is slashing .299/.369/.559 with 40 RBIs in 50 games. He’s also stolen 13 bases.

Deliberate development continues to be the KC Royals’ theme concerning Witt (they’ve steadfastly resisted promoting him to the majors) but he might be working at Triple-A Omaha by the time the Royals go on the clock next Sunday. Considering he appears to have outgrown Double-A pitching and Kansas City sent Omaha shortstop Alcides Escobar to Washington for cash Saturday, a promotion to the Storm Chasers should be imminent.

(Omaha also boasts three other decent prospects who can play short: Lucius Fox, Erick Mejia, and Angelo Castellano).

Then there’s Nick Loftin, KC’s second pick last year, who’s playing well at High-A Quad Cities and could replace Witt in Arkansas when the time comes. In 42 games with the River Bandits, Loftin, 22, is hitting .260 with a .328 OBP, five homers, and 27 RBIs. 

Jeison Guzman is another good Quad Cities shortstop who’s also playing at second, third, and in the outfield this season and has a 26-game .295/.357/.509 line.

And suddenly attracting attention is Maikel Garcia, Low-A Columbia’s shortstop who, besides going 3-for-5, stole five bases against Augusta Friday, then went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI Saturday. Garcia has a .305 average, .411 OBP, and 21 steals in 43 games.

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So it is Kansas City has no shortage of shortstops, and can afford to pass on Mayer, Lawlar, Watson, and House, especially considering the woes and unpredictability of pitchers Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar, Daniel Lynch, Tyler Zuber and Kris Bubic, among others. And the club could use some outfield help. The Royals should emphasize those positions in this year’s draft.

Next. The Royals and the Home Run Derby. dark

The 2021 amateur draft starts next Sunday. Some excellent shortstops are available, but the KC Royals are loaded at the position and have other pressing needs.