Time will tell how well the first day of the 2023 MLB Draft went for the KC Royals.
A lot of time, as it turns out.
That's because the Royals gambled and chose high school players with their first two regular picks. The always-conservative franchise won't be inclined to rush either of them through the minors—the big league club is bad, but not bad enough for the Royals to risk their new draftees' proper development, especially when they've just graduated from high school.
Their first draft since 2006 without Dayton Moore, who general manager J.J. Picollo replaced at the top of baseball operations last September, began with a surprising selection. Picking eighth in Round 1, the Royals chose Blake Mitchell, a catcher and recent graduate of Sinton (Texas) High School; the pick rattled many because not many catchers who sign without picking up some college experience make it to the big leagues. Mitchell can also pitch, which might explain why Kansas City risked its first-round pick on a high school backstop.
For more on Mitchell, check out our Jacob Milham's post-pick story about him from earlier Sunday night.
The KC Royals grabbed a prep pitcher with their second-round selection
Kansas City picked fifth in the second round and took pitcher Blake Wolters from Mahomet-Seymour (Illinois) High School. MLB Pipeline ranked Wolters, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound righthander, as this year's 41st-best draft prospect, a rating probably owing in no small part to what Pipeline says is a fastball he's hit 99 with.
Wolters went 7-1 with a microscopic 0.43 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 48.2 innings this season to earn Gatorade's Texas Player of the Year award. And for good measure, he spent time in the outfield and batted .440. With their lack of great organizational pitching depth, though, expect the Royals to use him on the mound.
His approximately $1.95 million slot value may or may not be enough to lure Wolters away from his commitment to pitch for Arizona—according to the Arizona Desert Swarm's Brian J. Pedersen, Wolters recently said it will "take a lot" to make him a pro ballplayer.
The KC Royals switched to a college player for their last Day 1 MLB Draft pick
Louisiana-Lafayette outfielder Carson Roccaforte became Kansas City's final selection of the night when they chose him with their Competitive Balance B, and 66th overall, pick.
Roccaforte, ranked No. 129 among Pipeline's draft prospects, hit eight home runs, drove in 55 runs, and slashed .318/.426/.538 in 65 games this season, and had 28 homers, 145 RBIs, and a .325/.409/.551 line in three years with the Ragin' Cajuns. He also stole 14 bases in 2021, 25 in 2022, and 22 in 2023.
Draft action continues with Rounds 3-10 beginning at 1 p.m. CDT Monday, and concludes with Rounds 11-20 starting at the same time Tuesday. All rounds will stream live on MLB.com.