What do the KC Royals need from the 2024 MLB Draft?

The draft is less than a week away. What should Kansas City be looking for?
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STORY UPDATE: When this story was originally published July 11, the KC Royals held a Competitive Balance Round A draft pick. They no longer have it after including it in their July 13 trade with Washington that is bringing reliever Hunter Harvey to Kansas City. The story has been modified accordingly.

The Major League Baseball Amateur Draft will begin Sunday, July 14 and conclude Tuesday, July 16 prior to the All-Star Game. The KC Royals hold a prominent spot in this year's draft, as they will pick sixth overall.

The Royals have a total of 20 selections in this year's draft. They'll pick second in each of the 19 regular rounds that follow Round 1. So, there will be plenty of opportunities for the organization to add talented young players to a farm system that ranks 28th in the majors according to MLB.com.

Last year, the Royals drafted high schooler Blake Mitchell eighth overall. Mitchell, who MLB Pipeline rates as the organization's top prospect, is currently playing at Single-A Columbia, where he's slashing .261/.400/.468 with 11 home runs and 37 RBI in 82 games.

Since the draft this year isn't very deep, most teams will be drafting the best available player rather than saving money by drafting below slot value or drafting for a need on the roster. The path to the top is much slower than it is in other leagues like the NFL or NBA, so it is rare that teams draft for need anyway.

The KC Royals need players who are near MLB-ready

Kansas City won't be drafting players who can help them this year. Rather, the team will use the trade deadline to fill immediate holes on the roster. Instead, Brian Bridges, the team's amateur scouting director, and his team will be tasked with building up a farm system that is in desperate need of reinforcements, especially if the Royals are buyers at this year's deadline.

The success of the team this year came a bit earlier than expected, so the players it drafts must be closer to reaching the majors than their first pick last year was. The 2024 draft class is heavy on college players; therefore, teams won't have to wait as long as they usually do to reap the benefits of their selections.

Since the Royals' contention clock has been pushed up slightly due to their success this season, they should identify players who are more refined. High schoolers should be out of the conversation. Of the top 10 players according to MLB Pipeline, only one, outfielder Tyler Gentry, is currently playing in Triple-A.

Due to a lack of prospects in the upper levels of the minors and the Royals' unexpected success this year, the team should target college players who are more finished products.

What players meet the needs of the Royals?

Players who could be available by the time the Royals are on the clock and who are also near MLB-ready include right-handed pitcher Chase Burns, left-handed pitcher Hagen Smith, first baseman Nick Kurtz, and outfielder Braden Montgomery. Prep shortstop Bryce Rainer has been connected to the Royals, but their need for more refined players should steer them away from high schoolers.

Regardless of whom the Royals take with their first pick, their farm system will see a much needed boost. Hopefully, their selection in the first round will be close to major-league ready to help the team continue to see success in the coming seasons.

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