KANSAS CITY -- Building through the Draft. It's a phrase that has become more and more popular among franchises in recent years. And while teams like Tampa Bay and Washington are currently having success at the Major League level using the technique, there are few better examples than the Royals.
Take a look at the Royals' roster, specifically the players who are among the team's foundation. Most are products of the Draft. In fact, top picks Billy Butler (2004), Alex Gordon (2005), Luke Hochevar (2006), Mike Moustakas (2007) and Eric Hosmer (2008) are all everyday contributors. Johnny Giavotella, Danny Duffy and Louis Coleman were selected in the Draft's top five rounds, as well.
Assembling the roster through the Draft shouldn't be expected to change any time soon, with many draftees still developing in the Minor Leagues.
It might not be long before some of the organization's top prospects are seeing action in the big leagues. Two of the team's highest-rated prospects -- outfielder Wil Myers and pitcher Jake Odorizzi -- were promoted from Double-A to Triple-A earlier this season, and both are already seeing success at their higher Minor League levels.
Myers was drafted in the third round of the 2009 Draft and was ranked as the Royals' No. 2 top prospect by MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo entering this season.
Myers' stat lines have been a daily item of interest for everyone that follows the Royals. In 35 games at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, Myers hit .343 with 13 home runs and 30 RBIs. He was promoted to Triple-A Omaha in May, and entering play Wednesday, Myers was hitting .324 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs.
Odorizzi, drafted in the first round in 2008 and acquired in the Zack Greinke trade, has also stood out at the Triple-A level. In four starts with Omaha, Odorizzi is 2-0 with a 2.49 ERA.
As for last year's top pick, Bubba Starling entered this season ranked as the organization's top prospect and 14th in all of baseball. But Starling has yet to really get things going. He'll appear in his first Minor League game later this month when he starts his career with Rookie League Burlington of the Appalachian League.
"We're happy with [Starling's progress]," said Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo. "This whole process from Spring Training to now is just to build a foundation for Bubba. Being on the field every day, being in warm weather every day, taking batting practice on the field every day, being around [Minor League hitting coach] Andre David, and a lot of the people that we hold in high regard, has helped his progress as a player.
"We think what we're going to see with Bubba is things are going to start speeding up, as far as his development in the coming year to 18 months. It's building a foundation for him. He's done a great job with it."
The top selection in 2010, infielder Christian Colon, is playing everyday at Northwest Arkansas. Through 54 games, he had posted a .285 batting average with five home runs, 22 RBIs and 11 stolen bases. He had also walked more times (23) than he had struck out (21). Two of the other top five picks in that Draft -- infielder Michael Antonio and pitcher Jason Adam -- also rank in Mayo's top 15 and are both in Class A.
The 2012 Draft's heavy focus on pitching is a direct reflection to what the Royals need at the Major League level. The big league rotation has had more than its share of issues so far this season. Veterans Hochevar and Jonathan Sanchez have struggled mightily, and young Duffy is slated for Tommy John surgery.
Injuries have meant a revolving door of spot-starters from Omaha, including Will Smith, who was ranked by Mayo as the organization's No. 14 prospect, but none of the reinforcements have made much of a positive impact.
And, despite pitchers littering the Royals' top-prospect list, the highly ranked arms are struggling, with Odorizzi being the exception. Mike Montgomery, another first-round choice from the 2008 Draft, had a 4.81 ERA and walked 34 batters through 67 1/3 innings this season at Omaha. Lefty John Lamb, a fifth-rounder from 2008, is recovering from Tommy John surgery, and 2009 fourth-rounder Chris Dwyer has a 6.04 ERA through 50 2/3 innings at Northwest Arkansas.
This year's top pick, pitcher Kyle Zimmer, is expected by many to make a quick ascent through the system, with director of scouting Lonnie Goldberg saying that Zimmer could be in Kansas City within two years.