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Royals' Draft adds polished pitching to system

KC pairs college arms with existing crop of position players
MLB.com

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals' farm system was in need of polished, experienced talent. After the conclusion of Day 3 of the 2018 Draft, it's clear that need has been addressed.

Draft Tracker: Every Royals pick

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals' farm system was in need of polished, experienced talent. After the conclusion of Day 3 of the 2018 Draft, it's clear that need has been addressed.

Draft Tracker: Every Royals pick

Of Kansas City's 43 picks, 34 came from the college ranks. After drafting 12 high schoolers in 2017 -- including three in the first five rounds -- the Royals selected just nine this year, most of them in the late rounds.

:: 2018 Draft coverage ::

By drafting players further along in their development, Kansas City aligned this year's crop of prospects with the timeline of its existing Minor League talent.

"I think they're gonna fit in really nice with the group that we have, players that we have in our system, especially the group in Lexington and Wilmington," scouting director Lonnie Goldberg said. "This group should mesh in well."

The top five players on MLB Pipeline's Top 30 Royals Prospects list all play at the Class A or Class A Advanced level and they are all position players -- Khalil Lee, Nick Pratto, Seuly Matias, MJ Melendez and Michael Gigliotti -- which may have spurred the club to spend its first five picks in this year's Draft on college pitchers.

"We wanted to make a concerted effort on getting some college pitching that we felt had high ceilings, and that could move quickly," general manager Dayton Moore said.

Aligning the timelines of its top prospects may set up the club in a similar position to a few years ago, when several blue-chippers such as Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Danny Duffy rose through the Minors together en route to a 2015 World Series title. Working together as prospects, they were able to develop chemistry from the get-go, and understand how to play as a team before even making it to the Majors.

Royals take college pitchers with first 5 picks

Video: Dayton Moore on Royals' first day Draft picks

"Several of these players that we've selected, they've obviously been in college baseball and they've been in programs that they've had to compete and have success at," Goldberg said. "They've played at high levels, and against obviously good competition."

While college players bring an element of poise and polish as prospects, the consensus opinion, in most cases, is that high school players present more potential because they are younger and have fewer innings on their arms. But Goldberg doesn't think that's the case with the Royals' 2018 selections.

"The one thing that I think is important, we didn't try to give up any ceiling," Goldberg said. "I know that it's been mentioned that college players don't have (as high of a) ceiling, but these guys that we've talked about, there's things that they do, and there's things that we also think that we can make a fix and work. When you put good players in a good competitive environment, they're just going to challenge each other. So there's still ceiling with the group we selected."

KC goes back to college on Day 2 of Draft

Video: Draft 2018: Angels draft RHP Aaron Hernandez No. 93

The Royals struck gold in that department with their first pick, as an early run on position players allowed Florida right-hander Brady Singer -- ranked No. 2 on MLB Pipeline's Top 200 Draft Prospects -- to fall to the Royals at 18th overall.

Singer's slide was especially convenient for the Royals, who have the largest bonus pool of any club and are best equipped to sign the high-profile Gators ace. They didn't expect him to be available, but they were thrilled he fell into their lap.

Son of Royals' assistant GM drafted by Mets

"We felt very fortunate we didn't have to do a lot of digging at that point," Goldberg said. "We were very well-aware of the makeup of who we were taking. ... Very excited that Brady fell there."

With their next selection, the Royals grabbed Singer's teammate, Gators right-hander Jackson Kowar, with the 33rd overall pick and Virginia lefty Daniel Lynch at No. 34. Stanford left-hander Kris Bubic (No. 40) and Memphis righty Jonathan Bowlan (No. 58) rounded out the club's Day 1 selections.

The Royals took four college pitchers and four college outfielders among their nine picks on Day 2 in Rounds 3-10. Of the team's 43 picks overall, 26 were pitchers.

Jordan Wolf is a reporter for MLB.com based in Kansas City.

Kansas City Royals