The Royals' top Draft pick, Florida right-hander Brady Singer, was honored Friday as the 2018 Dick Howser Trophy recipient, an award given annually to the top college baseball player in the nation.
Singer, who was the 18th overall pick on June 4, was a first-team All-America selection and 2018 SEC Pitcher of the Year as a junior. He's gone 12-1 with a 2.30 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 101 2/3 innings this season. The 6-foot-5, 180-pound hurler completed at least seven innings in 11 of 15 starts -- including his first career shutout on May 4 at Texas A&M -- and led the SEC in wins and ERA during the regular season.
Singer, 21, was ranked No. 2 on MLB Pipeline's Top 200 Draft Prospects list. He was previously drafted by the Blue Jays out of high school at No. 56 overall in 2015, but he did not sign, opting to honor his commitment to Florida.
"We were obviously very surprised [Singer was available], but our guys did a heck of a job lining up the board, staying in communication with each other, players' families, etc.," Royals scouting director Lonnie Goldberg said. "Our scout had Brady, and he had him in high school, so that really helped. So we felt very fortunate we didn't have to do a lot of digging at that point. We were very well aware of the makeup of who we were talking about. So, obviously, very excited that Brady fell there."
Kansas City also selected Singer's teammate, right-hander Jackson Kowar -- MLB Pipeline's No. 15 Draft prospect -- with its 33rd overall pick, which was compensation for losing Lorenzo Cain to Milwaukee in free agency. Both Royals draftees are playing for the Gators in the College World Series this weekend, as Florida looks to repeat as champion. The Gators open play in Omaha on Sunday against Texas Tech.
Singer helped Florida punch its ticket to a fourth consecutive appearance in the tournament with a strong performance in the school's Super Regional win over Auburn on Monday. He outdueled Casey Mize, whom the Detroit Tigers drafted No. 1 overall last week, holding Auburn to two runs and striking out nine batters in 6 2/3 innings.
Singer won't be the only player in Kansas City's organization with a Dick Howser Trophy on his resume. Longtime Royals outfielder Alex Gordon won the award in 2005 as a junior at Nebraska. The trophy's namesake managed Kansas City from 1981-86, winning the World Series in '85.