MLB Draft 2021: 3 straight days of KC Royals surprises

(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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KC Royals
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Day 2: The KC Royals didn’t shy away from high-schoolers on the second day.

Calling some draftees “high school players” is a useful inaccuracy—none are high school students, but the label serves the limited purpose of differentiating those who’ve played college ball from those who haven’t, an important distinction for clubs, like Kansas City, which seem to prefer the former to the latter. Although that preference doesn’t invariably dictate picks—take Bobby Witt Jr. for example—it makes sense given collegians’ experience advantage.

That he’s a “high-schooler” added to the Royal surprise Frank Mozzicato turned out to be, especially given KC’s recent struggles with high school draft picks. But not long after Draft Day 2 began, the Royals surprised by choosing more high school pitchers.

The Royals used their second round pick on another prep pitcher and didn’t venture far from home to get him, selecting Ben Kudrna from Blue Valley High School in nearby Overland Park, Kansas. Two rounds later, they turned to high-schoolers again and chose Red Bank (New Jersey) Catholic High righthander Shane Panzini. Both boasted Mozzicato-like 2021 records: Kudrna was 9-1, 0.99 and fanned almost 16 batters every nine innings, and Panzini went 9-0, 0.91 with an SO9 of almost 17.

Pitchers weren’t Kansas City’s only prep target. The Royals chose Park Hill High (Kansas City) catcher and decent hitter Carter Jensen in the third round. Jensen had already committed to LSU, but sounds like a young man headed instead to the Royals.

KC went farther away for their final high school selection of the day by choosing shortstop Ryan Cepero of Puerto Rico’s Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy in the eighth round.

Kansas City’s other Day 2 picks included community college infielder Dayton Dooney (Central Arizona College) in the sixth round; collegiate pitchers Peyton Wilson (Alabama) with their Competitive Balance-B pick, Eric Cerantola (Mississippi State) in the fifth, Noah Cameron (Central Arkansas) in the seventh, and Shane Connelly (Virginia Tech) in the 10th; and college outfielder Parker Bates (Louisiana Tech) in the ninth.

Kings of Kauffman’s Batoul Hammoud has a more comprehensive, and excellent, look at all the KC Royals’ Day 2 picks right here.