MLB Mock Draft Roundup: KC Royals edition

Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

The KC Royals may be in an evaluation season at the major league level, but evaluations never stop ahead of the MLB Draft. This is the time of year when draft talk ramps up after the college regular season and most high school championship tournaments are done. Many college teams are still competing for a trip to Omaha, but the Royals are just trying to stay out of last place in the American League right now.

The KC Royals need some clear victories during the 2023 MLB Draft.

The Royals' minor-league system is looking better today than it did this offseason, but there are still concerns. A lack of top-tier talent is first and foremost. While five of the Royals' last seven first-round selections are in the majors now, terrible drafting from 2010-2016 hurt the major-league product. If the new-look Royals management wants to win with fans, winning low-level trades and finding draft steals is a good way to go. Most draftees will not arrive in Kansas City for a few more years, but they could bolster a weakened farm system and provide glimmers of hope.

Royals fans should start looking at who the team could select at eight overall. The 2023 MLB Draft will happen July 9-11 from Seattle, Washington. The MLB rolled the event into the All-Star Weekend festivities and will bring more eyes to the product. In the meantime, what prospects do draft experts think the Royals will pick? Let's run through a handful of mock drafts. Jacob Wilson, SS, Grand Canyon
Stats: 47 G, 207 PA, 6 HR, 60 RBI, .423 BA, 1.133 OPS

If the Royals are dead-set on drafting a college infielder, there is no better option than shortstop Jacob Wilson. ranks him as the seventh-best overall prospect this draft, and the top shortstop. He has the tools to move to third base, a position at which the Royals have little prospect depth. MLB scouts describe him as "one of the better pure hitters in the class", pointing to only five strikeouts and 19 walks in 2023.'s Jonathan Mayo is short and sweet with his projection.

"Jack’s kid never strikes out (five in 189 plate appearances this year), hits (.428/.476/.669) and can play shortstop. What’s not to like?"

Jonathan Mayo

The full mock draft is available here.

Sportsnaut: Rhett Lowder, RHP, Wake Forest
2023 stats: 13-0, 1.69 ERA, 95.2 IP, .951 WHIP, 10.7 K/9

The SEC may dominate the top-10 prospects in the 2023 draft, but starting pitcher Rhett Lowder still represents the ACC. He comes in at ninth overall in's big board, thanks to his high floor and historic 2023 season. He won back-to-back ACC Pitcher of the Year awards and is the only Wake Forest player to win one period. Lowder will likely become the third Wake Forest pitcher selected in the first round since 2020, but Lowder is likely the best prospect of that group. Sportnaut's Matt Johnson says Lowder's dependability and projectability should intrigue the Royals.

"The Kansas City Royals must find more pitching and it would be wise to load up on it in the 2023 MLB Draft. While Wake Forest’s Rhett Lowder doesn’t offer the highest ceiling as a pitcher, he is a strong bet to serve as a stabilizing force in a starting rotation. With three quality pitches, consistency and durability, Lowder’s high floor should be appealing to the Royals."

Matt Johnson

The full mock draft is available here.

Just Baseball: Jacob Gonzalez, SS, Ole Miss
Stats: 54 G, 253 PA, 10 HR, 51 RBI, .327 BA, .999 OPS

Ole Miss shortstop Jacob Gonzalez is overshadowed by a glutton of SEC talent this draft, but he would be the top shortstop in any other year. Both of his hit and power tools are above average, while his plus-arm makes him a candidate to move over to third. He hammered 18 home runs in 2022, showing he can be a power hitter in his sophomore season. The lefty is not without his weaknesses, namely his overall speed on the basepaths and in the field. A good draft combine in June could put those fears to rest though. Just Baseball's Ryan Miller focuses on Gonzalez's competitive nature helping the Royals down the road.

"Jacob Gonzalez is a winner at every level, plain and simple. National Freshman of the Year, National Champion, Team USA shortstop just to name a few accolades the lefty-swinging infielder has racked up to date. Gonzalez is as well-rounded as they come, with an above-average hit tool and a good bit of power projection. On defense, Gonzalez figures to stick at shortstop long-term."

Ryan Miller

The full mock draft is available here.

Prospects Live: Enrique Bradfield Jr., OF, Vanderbilt
Stats: 56 G, 270 PA, 6 HR, 31 RBI, .290 BA, .875 OPS

If you are an OPS hunter, outfielder Enrique Bradfield Jr. would not attract your attention. But, if you want a player with two 70-grade tools, he is your guy. Bradfield is a menace on the basepaths, with 129 stolen bases in 185 career games at Vanderbilt. He was the 2020 draft's fastest player and only proved that skillset against SEC competition. He is not a power hitter by any stretch but hit at least six homers in the past two seasons. Between his glove and ability to get on base, Prospect Live's Tyler Jennings loves the Royals picking Bradfield this draft.

"Bradfield has quite the package of tools for a team in the top fifteen and we have the Royals taking him here at eighth overall. It's not often that you find someone with Bradfield's speed, which grades out at the top of the scales. There's solid contact at the plate too, plus he's really improved his eye in 2023, having nearly two times more walks than strikeouts. That's quite impressive. There's some pop in the bat, though he's never going to be a power force. Defensively, it's about as good as it can get in center field, with very good routes and the makings of a game-changer with his speed and defensive ability. The Royals would be giddy to get him here."

Tyler Jennings

The full mock draft is available here.

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