The KC Royals fanbase was rightfully outraged this past week after the MLB draft lottery results. The Royals 106-loss 2023 was the second-worst record in all of baseball, yet they ended up with the sixth overall pick in the 2024 MLB Draft. Two years of the lottery, two years of Kansas City picking lower than expected.
As if the fanbase did not have enough to be mad about already.
Before we move on to looking at the prospect pool available for Kansas City's draft position, let's learn from the past. The Royals' first pick has not come outside the top-10 selections since 2018, but that was an outlier. Kansas City has drafted in the top-10 17 times since 2000, with a terrible rate of converting those picks into impactful players. For every Alex Gordon or Mike Moustakas, there is a Mike Stodolka, Chris Lubanski, or Colt Griffin.
Kansas City has a terrible track record in recent years regarding the draft too, offering little confidence in them developing a top pick. But they have an amazing history of drafting sixth overall.
Who have the Royals drafted at sixth overall before?
The Royals have made multiple selections in the top 10, but they are not repeating at two slots: first overall and sixth. Kansas City was last drafted at sixth in 2002, selecting a high school pitcher by the name of Zack Greinke out of Apopka, Florida. Greinke made his MLB debut less than two years later, and the rest is history.
Greinke is still mulling his playing future, but his legacy is undeniable. His 20-year career has seen him be an All-Star and Gold Glove winner six times, plus two Silver Sluggers. He won his first and only Cy Young Award with the Royals back in 2009, where his 1.66 ERA was also the best in MLB. He has 66.6 fWAR across his career, and his 29.8 bWAR ranks tenth on the all-time Royals list. Greinke's last two years in Kansas City have not been dominant ones, but he is still an above-average pitcher in a young rotation.
Greinke's Hall of Fame case is yet to be decided, but he is a strong candidate for a plaque in Cooperstown. No matter how that story ends, it all started with the Royals picking him sixth overall. Hopefully, Kansas City can keep that strong track record going in 2024.