MLB Draft Day 2 Recap: The KC Royals switch gears

After picking two prepsters Sunday, the club went in another direction Monday.
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The KC Royals, by all accounts owners of one of baseball's worst farm systems, needed to make a big talent splash in Days 1 and 2 of the MLB Draft. So it seemed odd Sunday when they spent two of their three first-day picks on high school players; after all, the franchise could use a few more seasoned players on its minor league rosters who won't require several years to make their way to the big leagues.

Would that early prepster preference continue Monday afternoon when Day 2 daft proceedings reconvened in Seattle, site of Tuesday night's All-Star Game and Kansas City star Salvador Perez's impending eighth All-Star appearance?

It looked like it might when the Royals used their first pick of the day, the fifth in Round 3, on righthanded pitcher Hiro Wyatt, who just completed his career at Westport, Connecticut's Staples High. He went unbeaten (8-0) and had a 0,51 ERA in his senior season.

Though promising, the choice of Wyatt begged the question of whether the Royals would keep picking high schoolers, a path that if chosen could further delay the desperately-needed rejuvenation of their farm system and the club's return to contention.

So, how many other prep players did the KC Royals pick Monday?

Well ... none. Not a one. Instead, and following a strategy a bit more reflective of the franchise's dire minor and major league situations, Kansas City opted for more experienced college players in Rounds 4 through 10. And three of those selections were pitchers, a draft approach that should further test the Royals' frequently-criticized pitching development program, but could help fill a desperate major league need.

Vanderbilt lefthander Hunter Owen came first. KC chose him in the fourth round; although he missed much of the 2023 season with a shoulder issue, Owen, rated No. 56 among MLB Pipeline's top 250 potential draft picks, was 4-0, 3.52 in 12 starts and struck out 76 in 64 innings. He went 6-1, 4.70 in three seasons (13 starts and 21 relief appearances) for the Commodores.

Coleman Picard of Bryant University became the next pitcher taken by the Royals when they grabbed him in Round 6. Like Owen, Picard can start or relieve—after going 1-2 with a 2.70 ERA in 16 games out of the bullpen two seasons ago, he was 2-2, 3.43 in 10 starts this year.

Jacob Widener was Kansas City's final pitcher-only (more on that status in a moment) selection on Day 2. A southpaw out of Oral Roberts, he pitched only briefly in 2022 and gave up six earned runs in five innings, but pitched 30 times this season with a 2-2, 2.90 record and 80 strikeouts in 49.2 innings. He worked primarily out of the bullpen—only two of his appearances were starts. The Royals took him in Round 9.

The KC Royals also picked up a slugging outfielder on Day 2 of the MLB Draft

Spencer Nivens, the 2023 Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year, went to Kansas City in Round 5. The lefthanded-hitting Missouri State outfielder slammed 14 home runs in 56 games this season, and the .341/.437/.650 he slashed followed his fine .343/.440/.594 2022 line.

A possible two-way player was also a KC Royals draft choice Monday

Trevor Werner, who just might be a "two-way" player, went to the Royals in Round 7. Primarily an infielder, Werner slashed .251/.348/.459 with 21 homers and 97 RBIS in four seasons at Texas A&M. Primarily because he pitched only 11 career innings for the Aggies, and none since 2021, whether the Royals try to utilize him as a two-way man remains to be seen. He did, however, confirm to Travis L. Brown of the Bryan, Texas, Eagle, that he drew pre-draft interest as a pitcher from various teams.

The KC Royals selected a pair of collegiate shortstops on Day 2

Perhaps wondering if they'll be unable to sign Bobby Witt Jr. to a contract extension before he becomes eligible for free agency after the 2027 season, the Royals used two of their Monday picks on shortstops.

Dustin Dickerson of Southern Mississippi was Kansas City's eighth-round selection. Dickerson clubbed 11 home runs in 65 games this year, and also slashed .328/.419/.552 and drove in 52 runs. He also owns a good four-season .311/.395/.449 line.

Justin Johnson, who started his collegiate career at Lafayette but played this season at Wake Forest, is the other shortstop the Royals picked Monday. He homered 16 times, knocked in 76 runs, and slashed .324/.424/.618 in the 65 games he played for the Demon Deacons. Taken in the 10th round, he was Kansas City's final Monday selection.

The draft's final day, to be streamed live on MLB.com and encompassing Rounds 11-20, begins at 1:00 p.m. CDT Tuesday.

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