After surprising many fans by taking Frank Mozzicato in the first round of the Major League draft Sunday, the KC Royals appeared to continue drafting for need Monday. Half the club’s 10 selections in Rounds 2-10 (they had a Competitive Balance selection) were pitchers.
And four KC draftees were high school players. With limited exceptions, Kansas City hasn’t had the best track record in developing high schoolers they’ve drafted over the last few years, but that could change with the new crop of prospects they chose in Day 2 of the draft.
The third and final day of the draft starts today at Noon ET.
(Our references to specific prospect rankings are all from MLB Pipeline’s ratings of the top 250 draft prospects).
The KC Royals selected a local high school pitcher in the second round.
The Royals followed their first round pick of prepster Mozzicato by taking Ben Kudrna, Pipeline’s 46th-ranked prospect, in the second round. Kudrna may be a familiar name for local Kansas City fans—he played at Blue Valley Southwest (Kansas).
A 6-feet-3, 175-pound righthander, Kudrna made a name for himself at the Area Codes game last August:
Kudrna has a good arsenal that includes a sharp slider and a fastball reaching 97 mph. He went 9-1 with an 0.99 ERA, 100 strikeouts, and 11 walks in 57.1 innings this season.
Although he committed to LSU, Kudrna could be a solid pitcher for the Royals.
The KC Royals used their Competitive Balance pick on a second baseman.
Peyton Wilson became Kansas City’s first collegiate 2021 draft choice when the Royals selected the 68th- ranked Alabama second baseman with their Competitive Balance B pick between the second and third rounds. After spending time as a catcher and outfielder in 2020, he finished his senior year as a switch-hitting second baseman.
Wilson slashed .333/.417/.433 in 12 games during the short 2020 season. This year, he slashed .290/.353/.460 with a .813 OPS, hit nine home runs (five in his first 10 games), and had 31 RBIs.
Wilson, 21, is noted for his speed (Pipeline’s scouting report grades him 65 on its 20-80 scale), and he stole 10 bases in 2021.
Pipeline’s scout also notes Wilson is overly-aggressive at the plate at times, but seems to be a versatile player who makes solid contact and has a good arm.
A catcher from nearby Park Hill High was the KC Royals’ third round pick.
Kansas City selected another local high schooler, Park Hill’s Carter Jensen, in Round 3. Jensen is a 6-feet-1, 210-pound catcher and Pipeline’s 82nd-ranked draft prospect. He may not stick as a catcher, but his bat should help keep him stay around at a different position if catching doesn’t work out.
The lefthanded hitter slashed .405/.510/.666 with a 1.177 OPS in the 2018-2019 season. This included 13 RBIs and a home run.
Jensen committed to LSU, but he’s clearly enthusiastic about the Royals:
And his Twitter profile (click on the tweet) lists him as “Professional Baseball Player.”
Shane Panzini was the third high school pitcher selected by the KC Royals.
Kansas City seems to believe in the young guns this time around as Shane Panzini from Red Bank Catholic High in New Jersey became the fourth high schooler, and third prep pitcher, selected by the club in this draft. The Royals picked him in the fourth round.
In three high school seasons, Panzini recorded a 1.04 ERA and 218 strikeouts in 141.2 innings, with 115 of those strikeouts coming in the 61.2 innings he pitched this year, which set the single-season record for the most strikeouts in Red Bank Catholic history. Panzini also recorded a 14-strikeout performance against Christian Brothers Academy, proving his dominance in the strike zone.
A University of Virginia commit, the righty is 6-feet-3, 220 pounds, and has a good fastball.
Look for Panzini to be a possible bullpen arm with his ability to get outs.
The KC Royals picked their fourth pitcher of the draft in the fifth round.
The Royals continued to address their vital need for pitching when they selected righthander Eric Cerantola in the fifth round, making him their fourth drafted pitcher. Cerantola is tall and sturdy at 6-feet-5 and 225 pounds.
He was originally drafted by the Rays in 2018, but opted to attend Mississippi State to hone his skills as a pitcher. It didn’t quite go as planned, though—in his three seasons with the Bulldogs, Cerantola recorded a 4.41 ERA and 33 walks in 49 innings and, at 0-1, 5.71 in 10 games this season, was left off MSU’s College World Series championship roster.
What the Royals probably see in him is strikeouts—he had a 12.9 SO9 in college—to go with a potentially excellent fastball and curve. His fastball hit 98 mph, and his curve 3300 rpm, during fall practice. He’s struggled with control (collegiate 6.1 BB9) but could succeed with a bit of seasoning in the minors.
A collegiate second baseman was the KC Royals’ choice in the sixth round.
Dayton Dooney began his collegiate career with the Arizona Wildcats in 2019 by slashing .323/.417/.596 with 53 RBIs in 161 at-bats. After hitting .146 in the pandemic-truncated 2020 campaign, Dooney transferred to Central Arizona College where he rediscovered his swing and slashed .376/.452/.706 with nine home runs, 57 RBIs, and 25 walks in 170 at-bats.
Dooney, who stands an even 6-feet and weighs 190 pounds, is a switch hitter. His defense may be suspect, though—he had a .949 fielding percentage with Central Arizona.
However, his bat could make him a viable for the future.
It was back to pitching for the KC Royals in the seventh round of the draft.
The Royals continued with pitching by picking Missouri native Noah Cameron from Central Arkansas in Round 7.
Cameron, who was born in nearby St. Joseph, Missouri, was not a Pipeline top 250 prospect, but does have stellar showings while at college. During his two years at Central Arkansas, Cameron pitched to a 7-3 record and 2.86 ERA with 122 strikeouts, 21 walks, and only nine home runs in 122.2 innings.
Cameron was a freshman All-American at Central Arkansas:
A young infielder from Puerto Rico was the KC Royals’ Round 8 selection.
Ryan Cepero, 18, hails from Puerto Rico and attended the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy, a high school there.
Cepero is an athletic 6-feet-1, 180-pound infielder. Pipeline didn’t have him ranked, but mlb.com’s Sam Dykstra had this to say about the Florida Southwester State College commit:
Cepero is considered a gifted fielder up the middle with good arm strength and strong instincts to make most plays. The bat will determine just how far he can take his career…
And Cepero looks good here:
In Round 9 of the draft, the KC Royals chose to address outfield needs.
Parker Bates hails from KC Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ hometown of Tyler, Texas. Maybe that’s a sign of good things to come.
While at Louisiana Tech from 2017-2021, Bates slashed .309/.423/.508. He hit 32 home runs and had 194 RBIs and 22 stolen bases in 226 games. Defensively, Bates has been stellar, notching a .996 fielding percentage—he made only two errors in four seasons at Louisiana Tech.
The 6-feet-1, 205-pound Bates shows tremendous potential to fill an outfield spot for the KC Royals with both his offensive and defensive prowess.
The KC Royals drafted a college pitcher to wind up Day 2 of the 2021 draft.
Shane Connolly rounded out Day 2 of the draft. A lefthanded pitcher, the Virginia Tech Hokie stands 6-feet-2 and weighs 175 pounds, and was on the 2021 ACC All-Academic team. He also attended The Citadel.
With the Hokies this season, Connolly posted a 4.14 ERA with 81 strikeouts, 14 walks, and a .238 OBA in 63 innings. Like Eric Cerantola, strikeouts—his SO9 was 11.57—seem to have caught Kansas City’s eye, especially when he threw fanned 11 against Clemson March 22.
In Day 2 of the MLB Draft, the KC Royals addressed a need by selecting plenty of pitchers. The draft winds up today beginning at Noon ET and will be streamed at mlb.com.