Keith Law links KC Royals to high school catcher in latest mock MLB Draft

KC Royals fans will not like it, but The Athletic's Keith Law links a prep bat to the rebuilding Royals.

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Keith Law of the Athletic (subscription required) updated his mock amateur draft to version 2.0, looking at who will draft what prospects in the 2023 MLB Draft. The July 9 event kicks off the full slate of All-Star festivities in Seattle. The KC Royals, who will lack an All-Star starter this year, are sitting at eighth overall in the draft's first round. The lottery's first year was unkind to the struggling Royals, but the team will certainly be in contention for a higher pick in 2024. In the meantime, there are several directions the Royals can go in their current spot. But, Royals fans will certainly be dissapointed with a high school catcher that high.

Could the KC Royals draft a high school catcher eighth overall this year?

Law mocks catcher Blake Mitchell from Sinton (Texas) High to the Royals. A well-connected insider, Law said he had "heard this one a ton recently" while noting the dicey decision drafting any high school catcher in the top 10. The move would not be a far reach for the Royals, as MLB Pipeline ranks Mitchell as their 13th-best prospect this draft. Even they note the riskiness of this move, saying "Although the high school catching demographic scares clubs in the first round, it's otherwise hard to find fault with Mitchell".

They are right. Mitchell is a viable two-way player, at least at the collegiate level. As a pitcher, he has a 95+-mph fastball paired with a 12-6 curveball and changeup. That arm strength works behind the dish too. He sports an impressive pop time, but watch for yourself here.

Law himself was not sold on Mitchell to Kansas City, however. He tied collegiate shortstops Jacob Wilson and Jacob Gonzalez, plus high school pitcher Nobel Meyer to the Royals. All of them are top-15 prospects according to MLB Pipeline, so hopefully there are no under-slot games from Kansas City this year. Either way, the Royals need to take advantage of this higher draft pick. Kansas City, despite being in the league's cellar, has not been drafting high as of late. Sure, they had top-four picks in both 2019 and 2020, they have drafted seventh or later in eight of the last ten drafts.

Their 2021 first-round pick, pitcher Frank Mozzicato, was a high school pitcher that surprised many fans. He has started to blossom and produce in Low-A Columbia, becoming a premier strikeout pitcher. Meanwhile, 2022 first-round pick outfielder Gavin Cross has rebounded from a rock 2023 start, achieving some historic milestones along the way. The Royals player development is undergoing changes still, powered by Royals general manager J.J. Picollo. The team saw their hitting development take an upwards turn before the pandemic, so could the pitching side be a new emphasis? How the team approaches the upcoming draft could be a great indicator of the Royals' plans for 2025 and beyond.