With the 14th pick in the 2017 MLB Draft the Royals chose Nick Pratto of Huntington Beach, CA. This was the seventh year with Lonnie Goldberg as the scouting director for the Royals and the tenth pick the Royals have had in the first or supplemental first round since 2011. Following the Royals 2015 World Series run that saw them trade ’13 and ’14 first round picks Sean Manaea and Brandon Finnegan, and the ’16 season in which they lost their first-round pick after signing free agent Ian Kennedy, this pick might be seen as the start of a Royals farm rebuild. That farm system has fallen near the bottom of most publications with the trades, loss of picks, 2-year international pool penalty and failures of current players in the system. The pick of Pratto should be the start of a rebuild which, in addition to the picks tonight, will be made possible through upcoming trade acquisitions, possible additional picks with the loss of free agents, and the return of international pool money next year.
As a player this is what a few publications said of Pratto:
Baseball America: He’s a lefthanded hitter with strike zone awareness and plate discipline well beyond his years. Pratto stands close to the plate and covers it well. He has exceptionally loose wrists and creates separation in his swing, giving himself time to adjust to pitches late and keep himself alive in counts. Pratto has advanced pitch recognition and timing. The biggest development of Pratto’s draft year was the growth of his raw power; it’s become a plus tool for him and he’s capable of hitting the ball out to the opposite field or pulling it 400-plus feet. He’s still learning how to get to all of that power, but the ball consistently comes off his bat with authority in games and he should develop more game power as it becomes a bigger part of his approach. Pratto is a near-average runner and has enough arm strength to play the outfield, but he’s a very advanced defender at first base at present. He is committed to Southern California, where he’d likely begin his collegiate career pitching on the weekend and hitting in the middle of the lineup, but he is expected to be drafted in the first round as a position player. Scouts compare him to Joey Votto because of his offensive skillset and competitive spirit.
Perfect Game: The driving factor behind Pratto’s rise has been his showing significantly more left handed power, obviously a key factor if one is a primary first baseman. Pratto’s approach and swing mechanics through most of his high school career were contact oriented with a heavy emphasis towards left centerfield. While this worked well for him, it isn’t what pro scouts are looking for at the position. But starting last summer, Pratto has changed his approach and barrel path to turn on the ball more and has shown strong plus power to mid field and the pull side. There has been some sacrifice in his contact consistency and overall Hit tool, but that is not something that scouts are concerned with.