One of my favorites dates during the year is the day of the MLB draft. Trying to examine who I like in comparison to what the Royals may like is a fun experiment for me. In doing this, one of my favorite articles to write during a year is my 1o spot piece draft write-up, which is a quick look at 10 players that I think would be excellent additions to the farm system.
At PTP I didn’t do it every year, but limited it to a few years the Royals were loading up in the ’11, ’12 and ’14 drafts but that all changes here at BP as regardless of where the Royals stand I’ll try to give my idea of the players that I like. These players aren’t always going to be the guys the Royals are likely to select, but I feel would be the best prospects to add. It so happens that I’ve studied their drafts enough to know what players they might lean to and a few instances a couple of my selections in the past have linked up with theirs.
Some of the players I’ve highlighted in years past include Archie Bradley, Aaron Nola (HS), Blake Treinan, Lance McCullers, Foster Griffin and Brandon Downes
67/ Nonie Williams SS HS Kansas – There is not a player in the draft that checks all the possible boxes for the Royals like Nonie does. He’s likely t obe available at the slot, highly athletic, local and has extreme work ethic. The work ethic and athleticism are the same qualities the Royals look for regardless of year and draft, but the fact that Nonie is from their own backyard makes the the fit for Kansas City that much greater. A switch hitter and shortstop, Williams has performed against upper level competition when given the chance and improved his defensive play at shortstop. The combination of upside and athleticism from a local star seems like too much for the Royals to pass up if given an opportunity. With an arm that can register 90+ on the infield, speed to burn and a bat that shows explosion from both sides of the plate, Nonie is an extreme athlete that might have all the tools rounding together.
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Rumors had the Royals interested in Gavin Lux before his stock rose, so Williams is a good replacement in that position.
67/ Braden Webb RHP South Carolina – The Royals once coveted a high school pitcher from Owasso, Oklahoma who went onto have arm problems. This is a different pitcher from that area who also had arm problems, but Webb went onto South Carolina after having Tommy John and had an excellent season this past year in helping anchor the Gamecocks weekend rotation. The righty features a low to mid-90s fastball with the typical high-70s curveball and a changeup that flashes potential. The curve is a true swing and miss pitch while he can move it in and out. As an older (21) college freshman Webb has plenty of leverage to return back to South Carolina if the Royals can’t woo him, but with fewer picks, the Royals have an opportunity to sign him at an over slot deal and go lower with a couple other picks. The control/command needs to continue to improve but the stuff has plenty of swing and miss (11.6 K/9) already and one could see the stuff continue to climb as he refines the changeup.
67/ Reggie Lawson RHP HS California – The Royals haven’t had a lot of success with pitchers. The Royals also haven’t had much success with pitching injuries. The Royals have had basically no success with high school pitchers. These things are all true to this point, BUT Lawson is talented and with the injury during his senior season of high school could actually fall to them in the draft and be signable which is a must at their slot. This past summer, his stuff backed up due to a change in mechanics, but he found himself and started to get back to where he was previously before an injury in early April that sidelined him. Despite that injury he has the arm speed to gain velocity on his 91-93 mph fastball, a curveball that shows to be a future plus pitch from a big frame at 6’4. The changeup is in its infancy, but he already throws a two-seamer that shows good movement in the high 80’s to pair with his four seamer.
67-103/ Ben Bowden LHP Vanderbilt – The Royals traded quite a few lefties last year and could look to replenish that stock with a lefthander that has shown he can miss plenty of SEC bats out of the pen. At 6-4 and 235 lbs., Bowden has the body to be a sturdy starter at the pro level as well as the pitches in his average curve and change up to team with a low 90’s fastball that he can command all over the zone. With the total profile Bowden possesses, the team could move him quickly into the back end of the rotation or even into a Royals bullpen should they find themselves in the playoffs and in need of a lefty once again.
67/ Jameson Fisher LH 1b SE Louisiana – A first baseman who has average projectable power isn’t all that enticing most the time in the draft, but with a player like Fisher it can be okay to deal with. The former high school catcher has shown that he can barrel the ball and get on base at a remarkable clip at the college level, hitting .379/.485/.524 over a three year span. A highly intelligent player who stole 23 consecutive bases over the final two years of his career without getting caught, the Royals could do much worse than add a productive gap to gap hitter with a cerebral plate approach in the 2nd or 3rd round in hopes that the further his recovery gets from labrum surgery the more the power will be unlocked at pro ball.
67-103/ C.J. Chatham SS Florida Atlantic – It’s pretty common for a team to scout a player and end up liking another player on the same team. The Royals have done it a few times. Last year they took a pair of George Mason players and the year prior both O’Hearn and Toups came from off the same Sam Houston squad. So is there a player that would fit that MO? C.J. Chatham is such a player at Florida Atlantic after the Royals selected Roman Collins from that school last year. A tall, rangy 6-4 shortstop with a chance to stay at the position, Chatham has started to fill out that frame and shown an improved amount of pop this season while playing his usual solid defense. Is he a future All Star? Not likely, but he could be a solid shortstop who hits decent at the big league level and if not there he could slide into a corner outfield, third base or second base position. Not sexy but solid at any position.
2nd-3rd Rd/ Matthias Dietz RHP John Logan College – The Royals struck gold a couple of years ago with a JUCO hard thrower that they turned into a prospect before flipping him for Johnny Cueto and a World Series Championship. They have the same opportunity with this hard throwing righty who can reach back and find 98 while teaming it with a hard slider in the mid to upper-80s. Much like a pitcher I profiled lower in these rankings, Dietz is currently in an scout’s area that the Royals have had recent success with drafting pitchers and the weakest part of Dietz’s game, the changeup, is something the Royals excel at teaching. Combine all the factors and the big 6’6 230 lbs. righthander makes a lot of sense for the Royals with their 2nd or 3rd round picks.
2nd-5th Rd/ Drew Harrington LHP Louisville – A lefty with a three-pitch mix that doesn’t have a high ceiling but a floor that could get him through the minors relatively quickly and possibly land in the back end of a rotation. In prior seasons he has worked out of the pen for the Cardinals but was given a spot in this years rotation and flourished, outshining much bigger named prospects while ranking first on the club in innings and starter ERA. Named ACC pitcher of the year, Harrington has shown the polish to get out a conference full of highly thought of hitting prospects.
2nd-5th Rd/ Dom Thompson-Williams LH CF South Carolina – My Iowa Western bias is likely showing here, but Thompson-Williams is a Sioux City kid who has done nothing but hit between JUCO and the SEC. An athletic center fielder who could’ve played college football if he so desired, DTW assimilated to the middle of the USC lineup quite well in helping them earn a Top 10 ranking from the middle of the order. With the athleticism to stay in center and a talented bat Williams could move quickly and slide into LoCain’s role as a top of the order hitter who plays center. Stat – Thompson-Williams fared well vs Friday starters on the season going 18-52 with seven walks.
4th-11th Rd/ Garret Acton HS RHP Edwardsville, IL – A decent-sized HS kid at 6’2 210 lbs., Acton tosses in the low-90s with good feel for the curve. A solid athlete as exhibited by being one of the best hitters on his team, he hails from the same scouting region where the Royals have recently enjoyed the fruits of their picks in Jake Junis and Spencer Patton. A smart kid from a cold weather area with good athleticism is a similar profile to that of Jake Junis when the Royals selected him in the 2011 draft.
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Photo Ben Bowden 2015 College World Series June 24 – Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports