MLB Draft: The KC Royals have mixed 9th pick luck

(Photo by Andy Lyons /Allsport)
(Photo by Andy Lyons /Allsport) /
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Sometime early Sunday evening, probably not long after the day’s West Coast games wrap, the KC Royals will go on the clock for the ninth overall selection of the 2022 MLB Draft. It’s not a bad position—only eight of 30 big league clubs pick before them, so the Royals will have plenty of talent to choose from.

This version of baseball’s premier prospect hunt starts Sunday at 6 p.m. CDT and continues through Tuesday. It will be, like all drafts, a crapshoot with no guarantees that any picks will live up to expectations. Proof of this immutable fact lies, for example, in Kansas City’s much-ballyhooed first-round pick of Bubba Starling in 2011; despite overflowing potential, he never made it big.

Although the selection of Kevin Appier in 1987 turned out well, the four ninth-overall picks the Royals have made through the years also demonstrate how uncertain the draft can be.

Who was the KC Royals’ first ninth overall pick, and how did he perform?

Kansas City chose ninth for the first time in 1973, the season the club also inaugurated Royals (now Kauffman) Stadium.

The pick didn’t work out.

After others selected better-known players like prep phenom David Clyde and future Hall of Famers Robin Yount and Dave Winfield, the Royals selected Lew Olsen, a righthanded California high schooler who signed that summer, reported to Rookie ball, and gave up only a run in 10 innings.

Olsen stuck with the organization for five more seasons and, in 106 games—92 of them starts—went 33-35 with a respectable 3.26 ERA while advancing twice to Triple-A Omaha. But a shoulder injury cut short his career and he last pitched during the 1978 season.

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