How this year's Draft lottery could shake out for KC

November 28th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Anne Rogers’ Royals Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

KANSAS CITY -- This time next week, the Winter Meetings will be in full swing. Next Monday through Wednesday, front office and league executives, agents, media and others in the industry will convene in Nashville, Tenn., for baseball’s annual gathering. 

The event is often a tipping point for transactions with teams meeting with player representatives over the course of three days, as well as trade talks percolating, but there are also many other events happening during the meetings. These include the MLB Draft lottery. 

The second annual lottery will be held on Dec. 5, and this year, the Royals have among the best odds for the No. 1 overall pick.

Instead of using the reverse order of regular-season standings, MLB and the Players Association implemented the lottery in the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement, with the first six picks of the Draft determined through a lottery system among the 18 non-playoff teams.

By nature of their 56-106 record in 2023, the Royals have an 18.3 percent chance of seeing their name attached to the first pick in the 2024 Draft, the same odds as the A’s (50-112) and Rockies (59-103). Here is each non-playoff team’s odds for the No. 1 pick, with each team’s 2023 winning percentage in parentheses:

18.3% -- Athletics (.309)
18.3 -- Royals (.346)
18.3 -- Rockies (.364)
14.7 -- White Sox (.377)
8.3 -- Cardinals (.438)
6.1 -- Angels (.451)
4.3 -- Mets (.463)
3.0 -- Pirates (.469)
2.0 -- Guardians (.469)
1.6 -- Tigers (.481)
1.2 -- Red Sox (.481)
1.0 -- Giants (.488)
0.9 -- Reds (.506)
0.7 -- Padres (.506)
0.6 -- Yankees (.506)
0.4 -- Cubs (.512)
0.2 -- Mariners (.543)
0.0 -- Nationals (.438 -- ineligible for lottery pick)

Washington is ineligible for this year’s lottery because teams that are “payor clubs” -- clubs that give, rather than receive, revenue sharing dollars -- are not allowed to be selected in consecutive lotteries. Because the Nationals were selected last year (they got the No. 2 pick), their odds are reduced to zero this year.

After the first six selections are drawn, the remainder of the first round will run in inverse order of the standings among the teams not awarded a lottery pick. The A’s will therefore pick no lower than seventh, the Royals no lower than eighth, and so on.

The lottery doesn’t affect rounds 2-20 of the Draft; teams will pick in reverse order of the standings. In the first round, the 12 postseason teams from this year will pick in this order: 

19. Marlins (.519)
20. Brewers (.568)
21. Rays (.611)
22. Blue Jays (.549)
23. Twins (.537)
24. Orioles (.623)
25. Dodgers (.617)
26. Braves (.642)
27. Phillies (.556)
28. Astros (.556)
29. D-backs (.519)
30. Rangers (.556)

So for the Royals’ first pick of the 2024 Draft, there’s a lot riding on the combination of numbers they’re given and the ping pong balls’ numbers that are drawn out of a lottery machine. Here’s some more information on what will take place next week:

How can I watch this year’s lottery?

The Draft lottery will take place on Dec. 5 at 2:30 p.m. CT. The results of the Draft lottery will be televised on MLB Network during a half-hour show that begins at 4:30 p.m. CT.

What happened last year?

The Royals had a 10 percent chance of winning the lottery last year. Instead, they missed out completely and didn’t have their combination called. Kansas City picked eighth overall -- which it used to select Texas high school catcher Blake Mitchell.

The Royals saw the Twins, who were 13th in terms of lottery odds to win the No. 1 overall pick, vault up to pick fifth overall. The Pirates won the first overall pick, which they used to select LSU right-hander Paul Skenes.

Who’s projected to go No. 1 overall next summer?

There’s still a long way to go until the 2024 Draft, which is set to take place in Arlington, Texas, during the 2024 All-Star Week. But industry experts are predicting that the college class -- which is deeper than usual -- will dominate the first round.

MLB Pipeline recently ranked its top 20 college and high school prospects eligible for the 2024 Draft. Wake Forest first baseman Nick Kurtz -- with his hitting ability and huge power -- sits atop the college list, followed by West Virginia shortstop JJ Wetherholt and Oregon State second baseman Travis Bazzana.

In the prep world, Summerville (S.C.) High School outfielder PJ Morlando sits atop Pipeline’s list, followed by Jackson Prep (Florence, Miss.) outfielder and right-hander Konnor Griffin and Saguaro (Scottsdale, Ariz.) HS left-hander and outfielder Cam Caminiti.

The Royals have only picked 1-1 once in franchise history, taking Luke Hochevar in 2006, but they have picked No. 2 three times, most recently when they got Bobby Witt Jr. in 2019. This coming year will be scouting director Brian Bridges’ first time running the Royals’ Draft room after many years in Atlanta -- and we’ll find out what slot he’ll be picking first in next week.