Here's a look at each Royals pick on Day 2 of the Draft

July 10th, 2023

After three picks on Day 1 of the MLB Draft on Sunday -- Texas high school catcher Blake Mitchell at No. 8 overall, Illinois prep pitcher Blake Wolters at No. 44 and Louisiana-Lafayette outfielder Carson Roccaforte at No. 66 -- the Royals started Monday off with another prep pitcher -- but then leaned heavily on the college ranks.

Seven of the Royals’ eight picks on Monday were collegiate players.

“There were a couple of guys that we had targeted that got taken within the first couple of picks in the fourth, fifth round,” scouting director Danny Ontiveros said. “But we still like the guys we got. … They all kind of metrically fit a need that we were looking for, as well as what the scout’s evaluation was.”

Here’s a rundown of each pick:

Round 3, 75th overall: RHP Hiro Wyatt, Staples (Westport, Conn.) HS
Notable skill: MLB Pipeline’s No. 234-ranked Draft prospect, Wyatt features tons of spin -- a trait the Royals have targeted with their pitchers recently. His slider has good bite and sweep to it, and he pairs it with a high-velocity fastball that reached 97 mph by the end of his spring season. Wyatt, who is 6-foot-1 with a narrow frame, will show some feel for his changeup but doesn’t use it much, which isn’t uncommon with high school pitchers. Ontiveros drew a comp to Cardinals’ prospect Tink Hence, who is baseball’s No. 63 prospect, although Wyatt is a bit stronger than Hence was when St. Louis selected him 63rd overall in the 2020 Draft.

Fun fact: He’s the third prep pitcher from the East Coast to be drafted by the Royals in the past three years, following 2021 first-rounder Frank Mozzicato (East Catholic HS, Manchester, Conn.) and fourth-rounder Shane Panzini (Red Bank Catholic HS, Red Bank, N.J.)

Quotable: “The thing that stands out is the athleticism and arm speed. It’s a very quick, whippy arm, great athlete. The ball does a lot of interesting things in terms of jump and life and ride and the vertical movement. … And he’s a baby-faced kid, hasn’t even filled out yet, but we’ve seen him touch 97 mph.” -- Ontiveros

Round 4, 106th overall: LHP Hunter Owen, Vanderbilt
Notable skill: Owen was being talked about as a potential first-rounder at the start of the season before he went down with injury, pitching just four times after April 7 while dealing with fatigue and left shoulder soreness. Ranked as the 56th-best prospect in the Draft, Owen brings a big presence to the mound at 6-foot-6 and 261 pounds, displaying a fastball that sat at 93-94 mph but touched 97 mph, an upper-70s average curveball and a mid-80s slider that scouts prefer because of its swing-and-miss capabilities. Owen participated in the MLB Draft Combine this year, not only proving he was healthy but coming out of the event as a standout for teams.

Fun fact: Owen pitched a complete-game shutout with 11 strikeouts against Ole Miss in March, retiring the last 23 hitters he faced. That dominance caught the attention of several scouts and teams.

Quotable: “I think the last couple years, what was kind of keeping me off the field was my strike-throwing. We fixed a couple of things mechanically in the fall, which made my [pitching] mechanics more efficient." -- Owen, a Portland, Ore., native to the Portland Press Herald in late April

Round 5, 142nd overall: OF Spencer Nivens, Missouri State
Notable skill: A Draft-eligible sophomore, Nivens possesses a “beautiful” left-handed swing, Ontiveros said. The 21-year-old has a legitimate hit tool with good batted-ball data paired with low whiff and chase rates. In 2022, he struck out 45 times and walked 44 times -- roughly 15% for both categories. As the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year this season, Niven’s strikeout rate increased slightly to 16.2%, but he hit for more power -- 14 homers and 16 doubles -- while still getting on base at a .437 clip. Drafting Nivens is all about the offensive potential, given his average speed and fringy defense in the outfield.

Fun fact: Nivens, a Columbia, Mo., native, nearly got cut from Missouri State’s roster heading into 2022. There was one final spot open and four players competing for it. He responded with a Freshman All-American year and turned into one of the Bears’ most productive hitters. He entered this Draft ranked 119th.

Quotable: "He never blinked. He could have very, very easily said, ‘I'll go somewhere else,' and that wouldn't have been a good thing for Missouri State. He just said, 'OK, I'll compete,' and he clearly won it. The rest is history." -- Missouri State head coach Keith Guttin to the Springfield News-Leader

Round 6, 169th overall: RHP Coleman Picard, Bryant University
Notable skill: The 6-foot-2 right-hander has a solid three-pitch mix that gives him starter potential. A low-90s fastball tops out at 95 mph with good life up in the zone, his curveball has high spin, and his mid-80s cutter has some slider-like tendencies to miss bats. Picard, Pipeline’s 195th-ranked Draft prospect, also has some feel for a changeup, giving him potentially four pitches he can throw for strikes. Picard missed some time with right shoulder fatigue this season at Bryant, but he posted a 1.93 ERA across three starts in the Cape Cod League this summer.

Fun fact: Picard missed some time with right shoulder fatigue this season at Bryant, leading to questions about his durability, but he went to the Cape Cod League this summer for a few more looks ahead of the Draft -- and posted a 1.93 ERA across three starts, striking out 13 in 14 innings with six walks.

Round 7, 199th overall: 3B/RHP Trevor Werner, Texas A&M
Notable skill: Wermer is more of a third baseman, but the Royals drafted him as a two-way player after he showed he can hit up to 98 mph on the mound. He has mainly hit the past two years, posting an .863 OPS with 14 homers for A&M this season. Already 22 years old, Werner has missed time with injuries during his college career. He played in the Cape Cod League this summer to get more looks and slashed .343/.368/.571 in 10 games with Brewster.

Quotable: “There’s some swing-and-miss to what he does right now, and we think we can help him with some of that, but he also threw a ‘pen for a few scouts in the Cape this year and was up to 98 mph. And it was easy. He’s got feel to spin the ball, slow the ball down. Those are just discussions that are going to have to be had." -- Ontiveros

Round 8, 229th overall: SS Dustin Dickerson, Southern Mississippi
Notable skill: The son of Phillies infield coach Bobby Dickerson, Dustin is a polished, high-floor college player. He’s a slick-fielding shortstop with good range, and his bat possessed more power in ‘23 than it ever has before. The 22-year-old posted career highs in nearly all offensive categories for Southern Miss this season, posting a .971 OPS with 11 homers and 14 stolen bases. His line-drive bat has more strength than his 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame suggests.

Round 9, 259th overall: LHP Jacob Widener, Oral Roberts
Notable skill: The first thing you’re drawn to with Widener is his presence: He’s 6-foot-7, 235 pounds and throws left-handed. Primarily a reliever, Widener finished the ‘23 season with a 2.90 ERA across 49 2/3 innings, only allowing 31 hits, striking out 80 and walking just 21. That’s a 14.5 strikeouts-per-nine, which would rank second in the NCAA if he had enough innings to qualify. What makes Widener’s stuff so nasty is the deception he creates with his frame and delivery; he doesn’t have an overpowering fastball, but hitters have a hard time picking it up. He pairs that with a sweeping slider that misses bats.

Fun fact: Widener, 22, was a crucial part of Oral Roberts’ Men’s College World Series run and received comps to Randy Johnson because of his delivery and frame.

Quotable: “It was a big sigh of relief [when he fell to the Royals] because we think he’s somebody that can get to the Majors really quick and have a lot of versatility for a Major League bullpen.” -- Ontiveros

Round 10, 289th overall: SS Justin Johnson, Wake Forest
Notable skill: Standing only at 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, Johnson flashed some sneaky pop this past season as a first team All-ACC selection for Wake Forest, helping it to third place in the CWS. In 65 games, Johnson posted a 1.042 OPS with 16 homers, 16 doubles and 76 RBIs -- all career highs. He has good instincts at shortstop and can likely play multiple positions.