The Royals don’t ignore any portion of the draft, but if there is a segment that they have invested less in than others would expect, it is the college positional player. Since Lonnie Goldberg has taken over the draft for the organization in 2011, the Royals have used just 13 of their 63 top 10 round picks on college positional players. To take it a bit further, the Royals have used just 20 picks of a possible 93 in those rounds on college positional players since the start of the GMDM era. The Royals style, in general, is to shoot for a high ceiling player which leads them to the high school ranks more than it does other picks. Perhaps this is an error on their part that they need to look to correct.
Let’s take a quick look at the draft picks in the 1st round of the Lonnie Goldberg era compared to the next college positional prospect taken.
|Year||Royals Pick||Next College Pick|
|2015||Ashe Russell||DJ Stewart, FSU|
|2014||Brandon Finnegan, TCU*||Casey Gillaspie, Wichita State|
|2013||Hunter Dozier, Stephen F. Austin*||D.J. Peterson, New Mexico|
|2012||Kyle Zimmer, SF||Tyler Naquin, Texas A&M*|
|2011||Bubba Starling||George Springer, UCONN*|
One can easily say that had the Royals taken these four players instead of the ones they selected, it would have resulted in three better picks in Springer, Naquin and up to this point, Stewart. In the case of Springer vs Starling, they ended up looking for tools and ended up missing out on a player with tools and an ability to access those tools. So what college positional prospects could be a fit this year in the draft?
Jeren Kendall – At the start of the amateur season, Kendall was in talks by the prognosticators to be a Top 1 or 2 pick, but contact issues this season have lowered his stock to the back of the Top 10 if not into the teens according to BA and MLB Pipeline. Should he drop to the 14 spot, I would think the organization would be very interested in Kendall as a player with plus-plus speed, above average power and a defensive acumen that should be able to keep him in center field. The profile is very similar to that of Springer when he was coming out of UCONN with the only difference the level of competition Kendall played against at Vandy compared to the Big East for Springer.
What is there to like? The speed and defense stand out. This is a player who should have no problems playing the outfield at The K as a speedy center fielder who can go get the ball and then influence the game when he’s on the bases. Along with an average or better arm, Kendall could step into The K and handle everything that is needed at a plus level. That athleticism is carried over into the power with Kendall having average or slightly better pop. A team that drafts Kendall could iron out some swing mechanics and have a 20/20 type hitter.
What don’t I like? The strikeouts are very concerning. While I’ve drawn a comparison to Springer here, it should be noted that Springer cut his strikeout percentage significantly during his junior season. That is not the case for Kendall who has actually seen his number climb. Is this someone trying to access more power? His home run numbers are up so that could be the case but one would hope he would’ve improved enough while in college that his power production would climb on its own without having to sell out for them in a draft year. One would want to see a more professional approach out of a college junior with the pedigree of a Team USA player. The Royals in the past have struggled to help players make adjustments which would scare me for a player like Kendall who needs to make some adjustments in recognition and swing mechanics.
Swing breakdown via Baseball Rebellion
Adam Haseley – College position players tend to climb up draft boards this time of year as players perform during the college season and outplay what they think going into the year. That’s what makes Kendall’s drop so interesting. Following the usual path of climbing is Virginia outfielder/pitcher Adam Haseley who has improved his stock from that of a 2nd rounder type to talks inside the Top 10.
The two players’ programs and games clash quite a bit. While Kendall and the Vandy program in general swing big and miss often, Virginia prefers a patient, more contact oriented approach. This game fits Haseley quite well, as evidenced in the lefty swinger’s ability to walk (32-17) more than he strikes out. This approach combined with his speed and defense should fit ideally at the top of a major league order and in center field, or if the speed isn’t quite what a team wants, perhaps as a plus-corner along the lines of an Adam Eaton type.
The tools for Haseley are closer to average across the board with a slightly better than average arm and defense grades and a hit tool to me that is closer to a plus 60/65 grade. Some see the bat as average or a tick above average, but I see it as better when adding in his approach and intelligence of his game. A possible .300 BA with a .375 OBP in the future is what I think you’ll see quite often in his career. Add that to his defensive profile and you have an Eaton defender with a better arm in my opinion and less speed on the bases.
The one tool that is lacking in Haseley’s profile currently is his power which ticks as slightly below average. We have seen him improve that this year and he has shown better power than Kendall to this point when using wood bats at the Cape. While I don’t see a 20 home run power profile like you may get out of Kendall, I think his advanced approach, the ability to spray the ball, and barrel skills should still lead to 30-40 doubles pop and a 10 home run range. This is more than enough for a player with his on-base and defensive skills along with a workman like attitude that he brings to the field.
To me, Haseley would be an ideal fit for Kauffman Stadium and at the top of a major league order and while he doesn’t have the ceiling Kendall projects, I believe he to be the better player at the next level.
There is plenty of smoke that the Royals are going high school pitching in the draft with Trevor Rodgers the latest pitcher being linked to them via Perfect Game. There have been eight or nine mock drafts at reputable sites that I’ve seen with all but one of them linking the Royals to a high school pitcher. While this may be the case I think it could be similar to the ’13 draft with the Royals linking to a prep pitcher, but then waiting for a profile arm to fall to them with their second pick while they nab the best college position player on their board. Only time will tell.
Here’s a list of all college position players selected by the Royals in the top 10 rounds of the draft in the Dayton Moore era:
|Nicky Lopez||2016||5||$243,300||High A|
|Chris DeVito||2016||8||$125,000||Low A|
|Anderson Miller||2015||3||$581,300||High A|
|Cody Jones||2015||6||$50,000||High A|
|Brandon Downes||2014||7||$150,000||High A|
|Cody Stubbs||2013||8||$75,000||High A|
|Daniel Rockett||2013||9||$5,000||High A|
|Tim Ferguson||2010||10||$75,000||High A|
|Adrian Ortiz||2007||5||$149,400||High A|
|$ Goldberg Bonuses||$4,464,600|
|$ Other 2007-2010||$5,211,400|