Royals Authority

Deconstructing The Process

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Baseball killed the World Series in 1994, but with the signing of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, we are guaranteed 21 years of labor peace. An unheard of stretch in the modern era of the game.

Labor peace is nice, but we’re Royals fans here. We want to know how this version of the CBA affects our team. The short answer: It’s not good. Not good at all.

The most sweeping change that will be discussed has to do with the draft.

Each team will have a bonus pool for the first 10 rounds of the draft. Their bonus will be unique given the number of picks they hold and all picks will be assigned a dollar amount. According to Jeff Passan, the total money that will be in the draft pool for next year will be around $200 million. Baseball has longed for a “hard” slot system. For them, this is the next best thing. And this time, the penalties have some serious teeth.

-0-5% over bonus pool – 75% tax on overage
5-10% – 75% tax on overage and loss of 1st round pick
10-15% – 100% tax on overage and loss of 1st and 2nd round picks
15%+ – 100% tax on overage and loss of 1st round picks in next two drafts

This neuters the Royals and Dayton Moore. Chop!

Baseball likes to talk about their competitive balance (Look! The Yankees didn’t make the World Series!) but the reality has always been an uneven playing field. That’s not to say there aren’t other ways for teams to compete. Tampa has been Exhibit A about how to draft and develop talent (and how to use that talent to add.) Since Dayton Moore arrived, the Royals have become much more savvy about the draft and have certainly used the system to their advantage, frequently going above slot to sign their draft picks.

The new system with the stiff penalties, effectively levels the playing field that has been the draft.

Last year, the Royals top 10 picks were slotted at $4.8 million. The Royals – powered by the $7.5 million bonus paid to Bubba Starling – powered right through that number. By the time the dust settled, they handed out checks to their top 10 picks totaling $11.4 million. They went over slot by just 249%. If the new system had been in place last summer, the Royals obviously would have received the harshest penalty. They would have forfeited their first round picks in 2012 and 2013 and paid a 100% tax on the overage, which would have amounted to a bill of $6.6 million.

Suffice it to say, I don’t think the Royals would have been that aggressive had this system been in place.

By comparison, the Yankees spent a total of $6.3 million, which was about middle of the pack. Why? Obviously, they don’t hold high draft picks, so the extreme cash paid out in the first handful of picks isn’t an issue. But it’s also because they choose to spend their money on free agents and Derek Jeter. That’s how they build their ballclub. And that’s why this system is bad for baseball and bad for the Royals.

The Royals can’t compete on the free agent market with the large market teams. Duh. But under the old system, they were about to outspend and outdraft those same teams through a savvy allocation of resources. Now, with the stiff penalties in place for going over suggested slot, that old advantage is gone.

Selig & Glass think the new system is excellent.

I thought I had buried the old “David Glass is cheap” meme, but after the cancellation of FanFest, and now this, I’m thinking of bringing it back. Mainly because I see him gleefully accepting this new draft system. Why? Because it benefits his pocketbook. He’s not going to be able to sign that bonus check for $11 million dollars next year because there’s zero chance the Royals go over the collective slot. As an organization, that would be akin to slicing your own throat, given the forfiture of draft picks. Of course we’ll never know who pushed for what, but in my cynical mind, I can just see David Glass cozying up to Bud Selig and having a good laugh at the extra cash now lining our owner’s pocket.

This new draft system just saved the Glass family a whole lot of cabbage.

The byproduct is that it’s handcuffed Dayton Moore and his scouting department. No longer are the Royals going to be able to find premium talent after the first two rounds (thinking Wil Myers) because that talent isn’t going to fall to them. And even then, if they do fall, because of the “pool” there’s now more incentive to head to college. No way around it… This is just an atrocious system for the Royals.

One thing I don’t buy is that this new system will chase talent to other sports – specifically football and basketball. If this system had been in place last summer, would Bubba Starling be at the University of Nebraska right now? I suppose. But baseball has been hemmoraging talent to football and basketball for decades. As great as Starling’s signing bonus was for him, he’s now going to be riding buses to the small towns spread throughout the Midwest League, Pioneer League or wherever he begins his professional career. A $7.5 million bonus doesn’t mean much to the citizenry of Idaho Falls. By contrast, had he gone to Nebraska, he would have been treated like a rock star and if everything had gone right, he’d be suiting up on Sunday afternoons in about four years. There aren’t any minor leagues or bus rides or ham sandwiches on the road to the NFL or NBA. Kids play the game because they love it. Given the amount of work it takes to succeed, you have to love it to keep going. (Maybe I’m an idealist, but I believe this to be true. For a large majority of players.)

Yes, the money is a huge factor, but they wouldn’t be in that kind of position if they didn’t already love the game.

Other draft highlights:

– A similar signing bonus pool will be assigned for international signees.

Again, this hurts the small market clubs in that the penalties for exceeding the budget are extremely harsh.

– Drafted players may only sign Minor League contracts.

I don’t see this as a huge deal. Of the top 15 bonuses paid out in draft history, only six included major league contracts. The only Royal to be drafted and handed a major league contract was Luke Hochevar. Maybe this helps prevent clubs from making mistakes.

– There will be a Competitive Balance Lottery.

The name makes me laugh.

This is a confusing system, so I’ll just lay out the guidelines below:
A. For the first time, Clubs with the lowest revenues and in the smallest markets will have an opportunity to obtain additional draft picks through a lottery.
B. The ten Clubs with the lowest revenues, and the ten Clubs in the smallest markets, will be entered into a lottery for the six draft selections immediately following the completion of the first round of the draft. A Club’s odds of winning the lottery will be based on its prior season’s winning percentage.
C. The eligible Clubs that did not receive one of the six selections after the first round, and all other payee Clubs under the Revenue Sharing Plan, will be entered into a second lottery for the six picks immediately following the completion of the second round of the draft. A Club’s odds of winning the lottery will be based on its prior season’s winning percentage.
D. Picks awarded in the Competitive Balance Lottery may be assigned by a Club, subject to certain restrictions.

Known as the “Throw the GMs a bone” clause. I guess this is supposed to make up for the bonuses leveling off.

This smells “Made For TV” to me. The cool thing about this is it would seem these draft picks can be traded. Subject to certain restrictions, of course.

– The signing deadline will be moved forward.

It’s scheduled to land sometime between July 12 and 18, depending on the date of the All-Star Game. This is an excellent change. We know all too well that the top signings go down to the deadline because there’s no incentive to get the deal done early. My moving the deadline forward, this assures no one misses out on a (half year) of development time.

Some other nuggets…

– The percentage of players with two years of service who will be arbitration eligible will be increased from the top 17% to the top 22% in terms of service.

If you thought Eric Hosmer was close to Super Two status, he’s now a dead solid lock. And now the Super Two status of Mike Moustakas is in play. Under the old system the 2011 cutoff range was at 120 days of service time. This past year, Moose accumulated 111 days of service time. By pushing the percentage up by five percent, if Moustakas remains in the big leagues, he will certainly be on the cusp of eligibility. If he develops the way we hope, this will ultimately make Moustakas a few more million dollars.

2016 just got a little more expensive for the Royals.

–Major League will increase from $414,000 in 2011 to: $480,000 in 2012; $490,000 in 2013; and $500,000 in 2014; COLA in 2015 and 2016.

That’s a large jump, but I’m on board with this.

– Participation in the All-Star Game will be required unless the Player is unable to play due to injury or is otherwise excused by the Office of the Commissioner.

This means Derek Jeter will be in KC in July. If Chairman Bud had the stones to stand up to him.

– All Players will be subject to a policy governing the use of Social Media.

Great. Just when Danny Duffy fired up his Twitter account.

– Instant Replay will be expanded to include fair/foul and “trapped” ball plays.

I’m not a fan of instant replay, but I realize I’m in the minority here. Having said that, if you were going to expand the current system, this is the expansion that makes the most sense.

But this creates an interesting situation… What happens if Chris Getz loops a ball down the right field line (this is a hypothetical) and the ball is called foul. Obviously, everything stops because the ball is dead. Now the umpires will check the video and what happens if they change the ruling on the field. How do they decide how many bases to give the runner? There will be a few ejections on this rule.

The Kansas City Royals are not a contending team –news to nobody, I’m sure. However they are closer than they’ve been to a contender in quite some time. I’m going to embark on a series of articles which will shed some light on how the Royals can become a contender and what the pitfalls will be. Before that though, I need to establish the single most important thing that this team needs to do to become a contender. This is all going to seem a bit elementary, but I want to start down a logical path that will eventually lead us to a solid conclusion.

A few weeks ago, I posted an article about the improvement that this team has shown, especially in regard to the offense. The numbers from then still hold true. The Royals continue to score at a rate of 4.33 runs per game, which is good for 6th in the American League. They still struggle mightily with allowing runs and have dropped to 4.84 runs per game, placing them 12th in the AL.

For the Royals to become contenders, they have to find some way to score more runs than they allow. In the abstract, you can either try and score more runs, or you can try and prevent more runs in an effort to improve your team. To score more runs, the Royals will need to upgrade their lineup. To prevent more runs, the Royals can improve their starting rotation, their defense and their bullpen.  See, I told you this would be simple stuff.

We’ve established that currently the Royals have the 6th best scoring offense in the American League. Assuming that “contending” means to have a shot to win a division, and there are around 2 contenders in each division it seems appropriate that a top 6 offense is certainly of that caliber. Offense can and will fluctuate, so the Royals cannot get complacent. Looking at the current offense, there are a few factors which would lead me to believe that this isn’t an aberration and they can actually improve on their position.

The most important factor is their age. The 2011 Royals offense according to Baseball-Reference has a weighted age of 26.2. That is the second youngest team offense in Royals history next to the 1969 expansion team. It’s also the youngest in the American League by 1.6 years. It isn’t a guarantee that these players will all improve as they get older and enter their prime years, but it’s a better bet than they will decline.

Another factor is there isn’t anyone leaving anytime soon. Players like Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, Johnny Giavotella, Salvador Perez are all very young and under team control. Other productive players like Jeff Francoeur, Alex Gordon, Billy Butler and Melky Cabrera all have at least one year left if not three or four. There is no eminante departures for any of these players.

The final factor in the offense is the ability to back-fill. The Royals Minor League system has been touted for this entire year and a lot of that is due to the big time prospects like Hosmer and Moustakas. However, what makes them elite is the depth of the system. If Johnny Giavotella can’t make it, they have Christian Colon. If Melky falters they have Lorenzo Cain. If Francouer goes back to a pumpkin then they have Wil Myers. If Moustakas can’t figure things out they have Cheslor Cuthbert. They continue to fill the funnel as they spent another team record in the amateur player draft with players like Bubba Starling.

All of this combines to provide some reassurance that this offense will continue to produce at a contending level. Things will change, moves will have to be made but it’s not where the team should focus their efforts in attempt to bring another flag to Kauffman Stadium. In the next installment, I’ll lay out the run prevention side of things and get to the heart of the team’s problems.

(spoiler alert: It’s probably the starting rotation)


Nick Scott hosts the Broken Bat Single Podcast and writes a blog for the Lawrence Journal World. You can follow him on Facebook or email him at brokenbatsingle at gmail dot com.

This is a post I’ve been hanging onto for a day that now will never come. I was originally going to post it on the day that Jordan Parraz made his Major League debut with the Royals, but since he was recently picked up on waivers by the Red Sox it’s not likely to happen.

I’m getting ahead of myself. This story begins on December 7th, 1992. It’s not quite a day that will live in infamy, rather it’s the day the Royals drafted pitcher Billy Brewer from the Montreal Expos in the Rule 5 draft. Brewer was a left-handed relief pitcher who had put together three very good seasons in low A to high A baseball. He had pitched in 23.1 unspectacular innings in 1992 at the AA level, but the Royals drafted him anyway and placed him on the roster.

Brewer pitched well in the bullpen for the Royals in 1993 and 1994, putting up a 3.01 ERA in 77.2 innings pitched. However, in 1995 he struggled. He posted a 5.56 ERA and that off-season he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Jose Offerman. Brewer never actually ended up pitching for the Dodgers. For the rest of his career he pitched 55.2 innings for the Yankees, A’s and Phillies and his ERA was 6.63.

In Jose Offerman, the Royals got a 27 year old shortstop coming off of a career year. In 1995 he hit .303/.389/.375.  He didn’t hit for a whole lot of power, but played an up-the-middle defensive position and got on base at a very high rate. Offerman was a very productive player for the Royals from 1996-1998. He hit .306/.385/.419 and led the league in triples with 13 in 1998.

The Royals got an absolute steal in the Brewer trade and Offerman’s success made him a Type A free agent in the off-season following the 1998 season. The Boston Red Sox ended up signing him and due to the the rules of free agency, they forfeited their 25th overall draft selection to the Royals. Offerman had three more seasons of production that were roughly the same as what he put up as a Royal, but after that his numbers plummeted.

In the 1999 draft, the Royals selected pitcher Mike MacDougal out of Wake Forrest with the Red Sox 25th pick. He spent a few years in the minors and made his debut as a starter in 2001. Not one month later, he was struck in the head by a bat that flew out of the hands of Carlos Beltran and fractured his skull. The lingering effect from that incident was a loss of sensation in his fingers. He eventually learned to pitch with it and came back to the Majors as a relief pitcher. He saved 27 games as the Royals’ closer in 2003, lost that job to Jeremy Affeldt in 2004 and regained it in 2005. In July of 2006 he was traded to the Chicago White Sox. In four years with the White Sox, MacdDougal posted a 4.77 ERA in 88.2 innings pitched.

In return for MacDougal, the Royals received Minor League pitchers Tyler Lumsden and Dan Cortes. Neither of them reached the Majors with the Royals and were dealt in separate deals. Cortes was traded with Derrick Saito to the Seattle Mariners for Yuniesky Betancourt, who was then packaged with Zack Greinke to obtain Alcides Escobar, Jake Odorizzi, Lorenzo Cain and Jeremy Jeffress from the Brewers. Lumsden was traded to the Astros for outfield prospect Jordan Parraz who was released this off-season by the Royals.

So we’ve come full circle and back to Jordan Parraz. It’s a long, strange tale of baseball moves, however there seems to be a very interesting point in all of that. If you’ll notice, the moves which are fully realized and the players have all gone on to either finish or nearly finish their careers are ones which the Royals did very well. Below is a chart which shows the series of moves.

Every move that a team makes can have lasting ramifications, either positive or negative. Drafting and then trading Billy Brewer was a shrewd move by General Manager Herk Robinson. The Royals clearly maximized the value of Brewer. The team also cleverly didn’t sign Jose Offerman as a free agent, which gave them one of the three first round picks they’d have in the 1999 draft. That pick yielded prospects in a trade, and those prospects yeilded more prospects and Yuniesky Betancourt, natch.

The point remains that those smart moves by the 1992-1995 Royals front office continue to yield net value to the team in 2011. One good move can help a team for decades, one bad one can do the opposite. This is illustrative of why there is so much importance placed on the small things that the Royals need to do.

It’s not necessarily doing the “little things” on the field that matters as much as doing the “little things” in player acquisition. From gettting talented Rule 5 players, to recognizing when someone has over-achieved or reached their peak. Now that the Royals have built up an incredible farm system, it’s these types of moves which will define Dayton Moore and lead to a renewal of success or continued failure.

In lieu of my normal Tuesday article. I will be updating this post with the Royals draft picks from todays draft. Please post comments about what you know, like or dislike about any draft pick.

2nd Round – Brett Eibner – RHP/OF

The Royals selected RHP/OF Brett Eibner from the University of Arkansas. He says he wants to be a hitter in the pros. Most pre-draft projections had him going in the first round. It will be interesting to see if he continues as a pitcher with the Royals or if he becomes a hitter. He has lots of tools, and could be a boom/bust kind of guy. He hit 21 home runs in 205 at bats with the Razorbacks this season while hitting .337. He may be considered a two-way player, but he has skills at both positions. My guess is that the Royals let him hit until he proves he can’t.

3rd Round – Michael Antonio – SS

The third round pick for the Royals was Michael Antonio a shortstop from George Washington High School. Manny Ramirez also went to the same high school. He was a 2010 Louisville Slugger All-American and he committed to St. Johns. He is still young and could be a top of the order hitter.

4th Round – Kevin Chapman – LHP

Chapman is described as a relief pitcher with a short route to the Major Leagues. He had Tommy John surgery in 2008. Chapman is the closer for the Florida Gators and has a changeup and slider to go with his fastball. The Royals have had some luck with college relievers lately in the minors and they get one of the top ranked college closers here. The Florida Gators are in the College World Series, so you can see Chapman live on ESPN this Friday at 6pm. Well, that is if there is a closer type situation in the game.

5th Round – Jason Adam – RHP

Adam is a local Kansas City prospect from Blue Valley Northwest High School. He is committed to the University of Missouri. He is listed at 6’4 and 225lbs with the frame to add more power to his delivery. His fastball is in the low 90′s but he can touch 94-96. He has an above-average curveball and a changeup. The question now is how strong his commitment to the University of Missouri is. My gut tells me the Royals really wanted local KC pitcher Ryne Stanek but weren’t ready to take him in the 2nd round. I hope the Royals can sign Jason Adam, having local guys to root for is cool. Here is a link to a video of Adam pitching.

6th Round – Scott Alexander – LHP

Alexander is a Left Handed Pitcher out of Sonoma State, which is a Division II college. He was drafted by the Reds in the 2007 draft but instead went to Pepperdine, before transferring to Sonoma State.

7th Round – Eric Cantrell – RHP

Cantrell is from George Washington University

8th Round – Michael Mariot – RHP

Mariot was a weekend pitcher for the University of Nebraska.  For those of you that don’t really follow college baseball, a pitcher who throws on the weekends is considered a top starter for that team.  The best starters for college teams throw on Friday through Sunday.  So saying that Mariot is a weekend pitcher just means he was a top rotation guy at Nebraska.

9th Round – Whitley Merrifield – RF

Whit Merrifield is a 6’0 – 165lb right fielder for the USC Gamecocks.

10th Round – Timothy Ferguson – CF

Ferguson is an Ole Miss product who is seen as a versatile guy with athletic talent and a chance to improve.

11th Round – Alex McClure – SS

McClure is a 6’0 170lb shortstop for Middle Tennessee. Here is a nice article about McClure.

12th Round – Daniel Hernandez – RHP

13th Round – Jonathan Gray – RHP

14th Round – Michael Giovenco – RHP

Giovenco was called by our resident mock draft expert Clark Fosler.  It’s like he can see the future.

15th Round – Jason Mitchell – RHP

16th Round – Charles Byrne – RHP

17th Round – Ryan Jenkins – C

18th Round – Scott Fletcher – LF

19th Round – Kevin David – C

20th Round – Cameron Conner – CF

21st Round – Michael Liberto – SS

Liberto played SS for the University of Missouri.

22nd Round – Tyler Graham – RHP

23rd Round – Steven Neff – LHP

24th Round – Brandon Glazer – SS

25th Round – Merritt Sosnoskie – LF

Merritt went to Virginia Tech and is the leader in the clubhouse for Best Name in the Royals Draft Award.

26th Round – Jonathan Dooley – RHP

27th Round – Jose Rodriquez – CF

28th Round – Murray Watts – 1B

29th Round – Alexander Marques – C

30th Round – Chad Blauer – RHP

For me, there isn’t any topic more frustrating to write about than the Draft.  I don’t get to watch enough amateur baseball to be able to write insightful information.  Even if I did watch lots of amateur baseball, I don’t have enough inside information from the Royals to figure out who they may be targeting and therefore the odds of getting to watch any future Royal is pure luck.  On top of that, I don’t feel like I have a particularly good scouting eye, so while I can try to project it comes off somewhere between picking a horse at the racetrack and accurately choosing heads or tails in a coin flip.  I am also a big stats guy, and it’s impossible to compare high school stats to juco stats to college stats so they don’t tell me much either.

So I, like most of you reading this rely on people who spend lots more time than it seems possible on following amateur baseball or people connected to the Royals who have some insight on who the Royals will be selecting with their draft pick.  So if you missed the weekend Royals draft news, because you actually went outside to enjoy the sunshine, then let me get you up to speed.

This weekend, word leaked out that the Royals had a prelimenary deal in place with University of Miami Catcher Yasmani Grandal.

Here are a few bullet points on him.

Then today Jim Callis of Baseball America says “not so fast”.  He claims the Royals are still going to take Florida Gulf Coast Left Handed Pitcher Chris Sale.

Some bullet points on Chris Sale

  • He throws out of a low 3/4 arm slot
  • He is very tall 6’7 by some accounts
  • He pitches for a small school, which means he pitches against small schools and so his stats are hard to gauge
  • He has a good sinking fastball
  • Other than his delivery, he reminds me of Hochevar

Of course, it is possible the Royals take neither of these two players and instead take someone else.  Either way, keep your inter-googles pointed to www.royalsauthority.com tonight as we have up to the second analysis of the Royals pick.

As the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft is looming on the  horizon, the time has come for my fifth annual mock draft.  I usually take this about eight rounds deep, trying to blend what I think the Royals might do against what I would like them to do versus who might be available.  

As you can imagine, actually getting the players right is pretty difficult.   In 2006,  I actually did peg Luke Hochevar and Harold Mozingo (yes, Harold Mozingo), but have not truly nailed a pick since.   Even giving myself partial credit for Aaron Crow and Tim Melville (they both fell under the ‘they’ll pick them if they are available, but they won’t be’ category), that is still not a very good percentage.   

Given that, let me put in my usual disclaimer here about how this is more an example of the types of players available at each slot and not so much a this-is-who-the-Royals-will-take sort of draft.   Anyway, let’s get to it.

ROUND ONE – 4TH OVERALL PICK

There is something of a consensus that Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Jameson Taillon have separated themselves from the rest of this year’s draft crop, making the number four pick not all that alluring.    That said, the Royals will likely jump all over Manny Machado if he happens to slip to them.   The high school shortstop is just too much of a confluence of organizational need and best available talent to pass him up over having to pay over slot money to sign him.

I think the Pirates take Machado and the Orioles nab Taillon, leaving the Royals to choose from lefties Drew Pomeranz and Chris Sale or catcher Yasmani Grandal.   There has also been some scuttlebutt of the club’s interest in Citadel righthander Asher Wojciechowski.  If Kansas City was looking to go the route of the 2009 Pirates and make a signability pick at number four and then use that money to pay over-slot money to later picks, then Wojciechowski is the route they will take.   While signability is a dirty word around Kansas City fans, this may not be a bad plan in this year’s draft.

That said, with Machado gone, I am going to go with the consensus here and say the Royals pick Chris Sale out of Florida Gulf Coast.   Throwing from a low three-quarters arm slot, Sale brings a lively fastball in the low 90′s with a plus changeup and a passable slider.   He has a funky delivery and certainly needs some clean-up on his mechanics, but then Tim Lincecum had funky mechanics, too.    While Sale’s upside is not Lincecum, he does have as much potential as any pitcher in the draft this side of Taillon.

My preference would be to pick Yasmani Grandal (bonus demands be damned) with the idea of moving Wil Myers to a corner outfield spot and have both of them reach the majors by 2013.  In the alternative, if the Royals were going to try to save some coin for later rounds, opt for outfielder Michael Choice.   All that said, the pick is….

Not so fast my friends!  I wrote the above on Friday night and as I approach publication this weekend, we were greated by the news that the Royals may have a pre-draft agreement in place with Yasmani Grandal.   A switch-hitting catcher with power and one that is among the national leaders in walks, he should be poised to hit the ground running and make quick work of the minors like former ACC products Matt Wieters and Buster Posey.   A good not great defender, Yasmani works hard and plays withenergy.  I like this pick, especially with the contract apparently already agreed upon, so instead of Chris Sale, the pick is….

Yasmani Grandal, C

ROUND TWO – 54TH OVERALL

It is a long wait, both in picks and time, for the Royals second round pick and most of the names that get all the hype will be gone by the time number 54 rolls around.

There is some thought that the Royals are eyeing Minnesota catcher Mike Kvasnicka, a switch-hitter who spent the bulk of his first two years with the Gophers as a right fielder.   He sports power, plate discipline and a good arm, but is inexperienced as a catcher.   The question here is, after drafting Wil Myers as a catcher without much catching experience last year, would the Royals draft another ‘catcher who hasn’t caught much’ again this year?   For that matter, at least one mock draft has Kvasnicka being gone by this pick, which might not be all that bad anyway.

Again, the above paragraph has become outdated with the news about Grandal.   I really did have the Royals taking Kvasnicka here, but am much happier with Grandal in Round One and someone else at this spot.

There is a chance, however small, that right handed slugging outfielder Bryce Brentz might slip this far based upon something of an injury plagued season.  Two years ago, he led Division I with 28 home runs and slugging in excess of .900.  This season, a supposed off year, Bryce still slugged over .700, so it would be quite a bonus if he fell to the Royals at number 54.  Again, I don’t think he will be there, but watch for this name around the mid-twenties to make sure.

Another potential ‘slipper’ would be another right-handed outfield bat in Clemson’s Kyle Parker.   The starting quarterback on the football team, there are both signability concerns and, somewhat surprisingly, athleticism concerns around Parker.   Again, it would be an upset for Parker to fall this far, but he would be worth of consideration should he do so.

The drafting of Grandal in round one, however, makes me think the Royals will go pitching at this slot.   At one point earlier this spring, I thought James Paxton might be intriguing here.   He pitched for Kentucky two years ago, was drafted by Toronto and then did not sign.   The NCAA got involved and Paxton and Kentucky parted ways, leaving James to pitch in Indy Ball this season.   That right there, is why I don’t think this is an option any longer, given the struggles of Aaron Crow after a similar career path (and Luke Hochevar for that matter).  

I wonder about two talented high school pitchers with signability issues:  Zach Lee, who is a quarterback recruit to LSU (where he will also be allowed to play baseball) and Tyrell Jenkins, who is a quarterback recruit to Baylor.   Jenkins is an athletic 6’4″ 180 pound righthander who can toss his fastball well into the mid-90s and couples that with a curve, slider and change.   He’s raw, but big on potential.    

Also a right-hander, Lee may not drop this far even given his signabilityissues, but he brings more polish than Jenkins witha low-90s fastball, slider and change.   His delivery is clean and he has already filled out a touch more than Jenkins with an extra 15 pounds on his 6’4″ frame. 

All things being equal, I would love the Royals to go get one of the college power hitters mentioned above, but I believe they will go for one of the pitchers.   I will even offer up draft eligible Ball State product Perci Gardner as a possibility, but I think the pick is…….

Tyrell Jenkins, RHP

ROUND THREE – 86TH OVERALL

The Royals have offered up that pitching, catching, shortstop and right handed power, mostly at the college level, are their focus for this year’s draft.   That seperates them from two, maybe three, teams in baseball, but having picked a pitcher and a catcher it at least helps this writer focus on certain players for the club’s third round pick.

Shortstops who are likely to be available in the third round AND likely to stick at shortstop as pros are probably not worth a pick this high, unless Western Oklahoma State JC product Andrelton Simmons is still around.   A native of Curacao, Simmons is rated by Baseball America as the best defensive shortstop in the draft.   He sports a great arm that has some teams looking at him as a pitcher.

If not Simmons, the Royals might look to outfielder Gauntlett Eldemire out of the University of Ohio.   Very athletic, Eldemire put up good numbers this season (.391, 15 HR), but is still considered raw for a college player.  Your classic, toolsy outfielder here, folks.

Also in consideration at this spot would have to be switch-hitting outfielder Todd Cunnigham, the Cape Cod League batting champ.   The good thing here is that he kind of strikes you as a David DeJesus type:  capable of playing centerfield, hitting for average and 10-15 home runs.   The bad thing is that he strikes you as a David DeJesus type:  maybe not enough range for center and not enough pop for a corner spot.

My pick in the third round….

Andrelton Simmons, SS

ROUND FOUR – 119TH OVERALL

It is not out of the realm of possibilites that Eldemire and or Cunningham will still be available at this point and I would firmly advocate taking either one.

That said, the Royals might well go pitching here if none of the right-handed power hitters slips this far and that guy might well by Wichita State pitcher Jordan Cooper.    A right-handed strike-thrower with a repeatable delivery, Cooper is no thrower – he can really pitch.   His stuff will not blow you away, but throws a sinking fastball backed by a good slider and good changeup.  

There are a lot of college arms right in this area that bring a bushel of potential, but Cooper’s polish may be too tough for the Royals to ignore.  The pick is….

Jordan Cooper, RHP

 

ROUND FIVE – 149TH OVERALL

 A name that might be worth monitoring here is high-school outfielder Brian Ragira who is, you guessed, a powerful right-handed bat.   Ragira is raw, advised by Boras and committed to Stanford.    Translation:  bring the checkbook if you are calling this name.   My guess is that the Royals might have used their ‘over-slot’ money already by now and move on to someone else.

That someone might be Mark Canha, who played first base for California this season.   He brings power to all fields, hits for average and is an athletic 6’2″ 205 pounds.   Canha has a good arm and better than average speed and most expect he can handle either corner outfield spot.    Baseball America calls Canha one of the safest picks in the draft.   That’s good enough for me….

Mark Canha, 1b/OF

ROUND SIX – 179TH OVERALL

If we were not guessing before, we sure as heck are now.   Some players likely to be around and of about this value at this point might be Daniel Burawa, who works out of the St.John’s pen as a draft eligible sophmore.   With less than 30 innings of Division I work to eyeball, scouts like what they see but are hesitant to truly believe.   Burawabrings the heat routinely at 95 mph with a high 70′s breaking pitch for a change of pace.

Boston College’s Pat Dean has dealt with elbow inflammation this spring, but has still shown excellent command and good effectiveness.   Dean does not have ‘blow you away’ stuff, nor does he offer the classic ‘projectable frame’, but he is another polished pitcher that might fit in as a nice complement with the ‘high upside’ arms in the system already.

The pick is….

Daniel Burawa, RHP

 ROUND SEVEN – 209TH OVERALL

 Florida centerfielder Matt den Dekker might be a fit here.  A very good defender who did not sign last year after going in the 16th round, Dekker showed decent power and average this season as a senior.   If he’s available here, Dekker would make sense as a nice combination of talent and signability:  freeing up some money to go after a player who might have dropped due to signability issues later.

Pacific outfielder Nick Longmire has the tools packed into his 6’2″ 210 pound frame that you would like to see.   An up and down career at Pacific might make him available here as another power bat to put into the system.

Jimmy Reyes is a left-hander out of Elon witha 187 to 37 strikeout to walk ratio the last two years.   He pretty much is what he is, a low 90′s thrower with a good slider and not much more projection left in his frame.   Still, Reyes is a strike throwerwith polish.  I’m assuming the Royals like those qualities, I know I do.   The pick is….

Jimmy Reyes, LHP

ROUND EIGHT – 239TH OVERALL

 I am going to take a stab out of nowhere here and look at Mike Giovenco, a Division III right-hander who stands 6’6″ and goes 235 pounds.   Giovencohas touched 95 mph withhis fastball, but needs work on refining and concealing his curve.   However, if you are drafting a pitcher who needs some refinement, the big guy with the big fastball is a good place to start.   The pick….

Mike Giovenco, RHP

Alright, let the fun begin!

I struggled with a topic today or, to be more exact, with picking a topic for today.

We could have discussed Dayton Moore’s announcement that he was hired ‘to rebuild the farm system’.   Sure, that is true, but my guess is David Glass was probably delighted to find out the extra $25 million per year in payroll he has paid the past two years was simply to mark time in the majors.  Basically, Moore’s words sound a lot like a struggling college coach who brings up his team’s excellent graduation rate as his team flounders along at 3-11.

We could have reviewed last night’s loss.  You know, the one where the Royals went one for ten with runners in scoring position and where we saw Yuniesky Betancourt bat with two on in the eighth with Kila Kaaihue on the bench.

I even thought of going back two years to the trades of Leo Nunez and Ramon Ramirez and the nasty domino effect that has resulted from those.  How different would this team look right now had those trades not taken place?   That’s actually kind of a fun exercise, but we’ll save it for another time.

No, today, let’s look forward.   While it may not be comforting to diehard fans, at least it gives us something different to think about.

We are currently less than a month away from the amateur draft, where the Royals sit with the 4th overall pick.   Bryce Harper is THE name in this draft and likely will not fall past the Nationals at number one.   Just as well in my opinion.   If Harper happened to slip to the Royals, they would basically have to break the bank to sign him.   While the investment might well pay off, I would much prefer to have Harper gone and see the Royals make a good pick at number four (with the usual $5-$6 million signing bonus) and then have money to overpay in the second, third and fourth rounds on premium talents that slip due to signability issues.

That said, what are the likely options for the Royals at number four?   In no particular order, let’s throw out some names:

  • Yasmani Grandal – This 6’2″, 210 pound switch-hitting catcher is in his third year at the University of Miami.   The Royals inquired on him when he came out of high school, but decided his bonus demand was a tad high, so the organization certainly is familiar with Grandal.   He hits with power and is an above average defender with a big arm.  If the Royals want to get Wil Myers’ bat to the majors quickly, they could draft Grandal to catch and move Myers to the outfield.
  • Manny Machado – Royals’ fans may not be in love with drafting another high school bat, but this shortstop out of Miami might be good enough to change their minds.    Manny is 6’2″ and 180 pounds and hits with natural power:  despite having done little to no weight training.  A smooth defender who can almost certainly stick at shortstop, you don’t have to be overly optimistic to project Machado into a Hanley Ramirez/Miguel Tejeda type shortstop down the road.
  • Jameson Tallion – A big righthander (6’7″ 230 lbs) out of The Woodlands High School in Texas, Tallion recently struck out 19 of 21 batters on his way to a seven inning no-hitter.   It is problematical that Tallion will even be available at number four, but he is the best high school arm in this draft.
  • Drew Pomeranz – A lefty out of Ole Miss, Pomeranz combines a mid-90′s fastball with a knuckle curve and occasional change to pile up strikeouts.   He might not be as polished as you might want from a college pitcher and hence could take a little longer to get to the majors than an Aaron Crow type player.
  • A.J. Cole – Another good high school arm with the classic ‘projectable frame’, Cole features a changeup already and a live fastball is the low to mid 90′s.    Although A.J. is 6’5″ tall, he weighs in at just 190 pounds and hence has scouts believing there is room to grow.
  • Dylan Covey - Yes, another right handed high school pitcher.   This one features a 95 mph fastball and good slider, plus a curve and change.   At 6’2″, 200 pounds, Dylan does not sport the ‘projectable frame’.  However, he exhibits good, clean mechanics and might well be the pick at number four.

There are some others that could sneak up here, too, and we may detail those if things change as we get nearer to draft day, but I wanted to move onto a couple of names to watch for in the second round.   Both of these players did not sign last year and are eligible to be drafted again in 2010.   There is a very good possibility that both will be gone by the time the Royals second pick comes around, but if not, I would be all for nabbing either one.

  • LeVon Washington - The speedy outfielder was picked number 30 overall by the Rays last year, but did not sign.  He is currently playing at Chipola Junior College and has run down several fly balls in the gap that his JC coach has simply never seen anyone get to before.   Basically, anyone Tampa Bay liked enough at 30th is good enough for the Royals this year.
  • James Paxton - The lefty pitched for Kentucky in 2009 and was the Blue Jays supplemental first round pick last year.  After not signing, he was set to go back to Kentucky, but there were eligibility concerns and Paxton is going to throw with the Grand Prairie Air Hogs until the draft this year.    The Air Hogs are in the same league as the Fort Worth Cats – the past home of Luke Hochevar and Aaron Crow.   If the Royals go with a position player in round one, Paxton might be a nice complement with their second pick.

What direction the Royals take with the 2010 Draft remains to be seen and there is a lot of amateur baseball to be played between now and June, so things will change.     I am torn between Grandal and Machado myself, with a hope that Washington or Paxton is still around in round two (faint hope as it is).   If the Royals believe that Grandal can move quickly through the minors, he might make the most sense as it would allow the organization to slide Wil Myers to a different position and vault upwards towards the majors.

While the above capsules are not overly detailed, they give you a rough idea of some possibilities….and something different to think about than the present situation of the Kansas City Royals.

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