The announcement of Danny Duffy’s contract on Monday has positioned the Royals in decent shape going forward in terms of their pitching rotation, having Yordano Ventura, Duffy and possibly Ian Kennedy inked through 2020. With three-fifths of the rotation in place, the Royals hopefully can develop the last one or two pieces to keep future cost down.
One position that isn’t looking quite as shiny though is center field. The trade of Jarrod Dyson and likely departure of Lorenzo Cain leaves just Paulo Orlando, Billy Burns and Bubba Starling at the Major League or upper minors in team control. After a disappointing ’16 Burns and Starling are extremely shaky propositions to make suitable options there in the future and a likely dip in Orlando’s offensive performance could lump him into the same company. With that lack of upper level talent in center field, the Royals could draft for a need that could move quickly to the majors. The lack of college position players in the draft combined by the Royals spot at 14 makes that a harder task than most years, but there is one player who has positioned himself in a decent spot for Lonnie Goldberg and company to at least consider.
Lipscomb’s lean and athletic Michael Gigliotti, a lightly recruited outfielder from the Fort Lauderdale area, ended up at the Atlantic Sun school in Nashville, Tennessee in 2015. All he’s done since arriving is hit, build his reputation and help Lipscomb win. The skinny kid who also pitched in high school concentrated on playing center and leading the top of the order his freshman year, earning All-American honors while helping lead the team to a school record 39 wins.
Despite a slight dip in batting average during his sophomore year, Gigliotti controlled the strike zone slightly better which kept his on base percentage on par (.407) while ticking up the power. At the end of the season Gigliotti’s performance gave him a solid grade, but it was his performance at the Cape that really elevated his stock.
An old school speedster whose game is built on his legs, Gigliotti isn’t afraid to lay down a bunt for a hit (23 in ’15) while also controlling the zone to get on base with a walk. Once on base, Gigliotti can convert that speed into steals with 52 stolen bases during his two seasons at college and in summer league competition against just 13 times caught (80%). The one thing that the Cape showed besides that ability was that there is some pop with the wooden bat. He’s not a power hitter by any means, but he did connect on three home runs in less than 50 games between the regular season and playoffs with another eight doubles and two triples.
It’s the speed, the on base skill and, above all, his defense that should make him attractive to the Royals. A plus defender, Gigliotti with his long strides would be a solid fit in Kauffman Stadium. The outfielder gets solid reads off the bat, takes proper routes and uses that plus speed to track balls down. The only tool in the defensive bag that isn’t plus is his arm, but at average in the middle 80s, it is enough to play without it becoming a liability. It’s these tools combined with the bat that helped him to be named the Cape’s top prospect and best defensive outfielder.
As a junior, Gigliotti has some leverage but not likely enough to earn the full bonus amount (approx. $3m) which would allow the Royals to add money to their picks in the second and supplemental second rounds. If the Royals feel that Gigliotti’s bat is enough then there is no doubt his defensive prowess combined with the hitter’s style of play would be a solid fit at The K and at the top of a Royals batting order.
Pic via LipscombSports.com