Team’s should never pick for needs, but currently the Royals lack in pitching at the lower end of their system unless some players really shine and correct their paths this next season. Knowing that and the strength of this year’s draft in the college pitching market, the front office could have an opportunity to add a fairly high quality arm with their 14th overall pick.
One of the pitchers who stands out happens to be a local product in Alex Lange from Lee’s Summit West high school via LSU. After being undrafted in high school, all Lange did was head to LSU and start his career there with a 12-0 record and a 1.97 ERA with 131 strikeouts in 114 innings during his freshman season, earning freshman All-American honors in the process. The sophomore campaign wasn’t quite as good as early season struggles put him behind a tad, but he found himself during the Tigers campaign to help them get to the Super Regional where they would lose to the eventual champion Coastal Carolina, finishing the year with similar strikeout numbers (125) and a 3.79 ERA.
With a fastball that works 89-94 MPH with the ability to reach back for more at 96, it features movement and a true bat missing pitch when he’s working the corners. It tended to get fat last season at times and led to 12 long balls, but at it’s best, it is a plus fastball. Along with the fastball, Lange works with a plus curveball that get some 70 marks on the scouting grade by some, a true power curve that he gets plenty of swings and miss from. The change up lags behind, but flashes average and with the fastball and curveball being the dominant weapons that they are it all it needs to be is average to give him a true three pitch arsenal to compete in the bigs.
Currently the control lags behind and the effort in his delivery give some pause as to whether he can be a starter, but the body size combined with the two plus pitches give every reason to think he can pull it off. If he was a perfectly tuned prospect with better control, then the Royals wouldn’t get a chance to draft him with the 14th pick. A repeat of his freshman campaign could push him above their pick, but a local kid taken with the 14th pick and junior leverage could be an outstanding opportunity for Kansas City should he be there.
This draft lags behind in position player talent with just a couple of college position players could be worthy of Top 14 picks in the draft. The high school position talent isn’t a whole lot better, but there is one player who stands out for his ability to hit even if his lack of athleticism pushes him down draft boards. Outfielder Calvin Mitchell from San Diego has what many believe to be the smoothest stroke in the high school field if not the entire draft from the left side. Along with that smooth stroke comes some solid raw power with the hitter regularly registering 90+ MPH exit speeds off his bat as a high schooler in showcase game and is likely to develop into solid pull side power in the future. With his advanced approach at the plate, Mitchell is comfortable taking the ball the other way or yanking on one to right. A lack of foot speed and arm strength will likely leave him in left field in the infield, but that shouldn’t be a problem in an organization that regularly loads up with speedsters to cover center and big arms to man right. The lack of athleticism with an elite hit tool that falls to the 14th pick is eerily reminiscent of a Florida high schooler that the Royals took with the same pick in 2004, even if Mitchell is much more advanced athletically than Billy Butler ever was. The California prepster often earns comps to Garret Anderson, a another former California high schooler who enjoyed a 17-year major league career.
Featured Photo Alex Lange LSU via d1baseball.com Kendall Rogers