Does the draft come at the right time, or what? After getting swept by the Twins and their Double-A caliber lineup, it was a bucket of cold water thrown in the face… The future is still pretty grim. Especially with our starting pitching.
With the focus still on the future (for another season at least) the good news is the Royals hold the fifth overall pick in what is shaping up to be a very deep draft. And speaking of pitching, word on the street is the Royals are seeking a college arm. That makes sense, given that the Royals kick started The Process this year. The pitching rotation remains Kate Moss thin, so GMDM and the scouting department have been charged with finding a little starting pitching meat. That comes from a college arm, which will be on an accelerated path to the majors.
In this draft, there are at least three premium college arms: Gerrit Cole from UCLA, his teammate Trevor Bauer and Virginia’s Danny Hultzen.
There are a couple of things to note from these mocks… Pittsburgh will go for a pitcher at number one. It’s a guess between Cole and Hultzen. Rendon to Seattle at number two is a definite. Arizona is big on Hultzen at three, but if the Pirates grab him at number one, the whole draft goes haywire. And as you can see, there’s no consensus for who goes fourth and fifth.
Of the scenarios above, I’d bet the Royals would be delighted with the one presented by Baseball America. If Cole is there at number five, he’s going to be wearing Royal blue. The Baseball Prospectus mock is the one I’d bet on if the Pirates grab Cole with the top choice.
One name that hasn’t found it’s way into the top five is local product Bubba Starling. The question is, if the top three college arms are off the board at number five, will the Royals go local and draft Starling? The local angle in the draft is always heavily overplayed. Sure, armchair GMs blast the Royals for missing on Albert Pujols, but it’s not like he was nabbed immediately after the Royals passed. Pujols lasted until the 13th round. Plenty of teams missed – multiple times. Just because he was in the Royals backyard, wouldn’t necessarily give the team an advantage. The top guys are known by all the teams and they’re all scouted and most of them are cross-checked. There aren’t many mysteries in the early half of the draft.
That doesn’t mean the Royals aren’t feeling pressure when it comes to Starling. And since it appears Starling will be on the board when the Royals pick number five, that will present an extremely interesting situation. Do the Royals bow to pressure of media and fans to choose Starling, or will they stay the course and address their need for pitching? Can you imagine the uproar if the Royals pass on Starling and he goes on to become a superstar? Especially if their pick in this draft is a whiff. That’s pretty much a worst case scenario. Because this is the Royals we’re talking about, I feel obligated to bring this up.
Myself, I think they’ll stick with pitching. They want someone they can place on the fast track and contribute soon as The Process starts rolling. However, if the three college guys are off the board, I think they decide they can’t pass on Starling.
We’ll find out this afternoon.