KANSAS CITY -- If you'd go back to 1969 and try to figure who the Royals' best pick was in each of the first 15 rounds of the First-Year Player Draft, the biggest debate would center on the first round.
No surprise about that. The current club includes six first-rounders -- Aaron Crow (2009), Eric Hosmer ('08), Mike Moustakas ('07), Luke Hochevar ('06), Alex Gordon ('05) and Billy Butler ('04). Of course, Moustakas is mending his bat at Triple-A Omaha and Hochevar is mending his arm on the disabled list.
Other first-round picks include Zack Greinke (2002), Johnny Damon (1992), Kevin Appier (1987) and Willie Wilson (1974), all great contributors. (Bret Saberhagen? He doesn't even figure in the top 15 -- he was taken in the 19th round of '82).
Thirty-six of Kansas City's 58 first-round picks since 1971 have made it to the Majors. Who would you pick? Some suggestions:
Round 1: Willie Wilson, 1974
Longest period of productive years for Kansas City was the determining factor. Ten of Wilson's 15 Royals years were certainly that and he was an explosive everyday outfielder. Right there, too, is Appier, a rotation horse for eight of his KC years. Tough choice between the two. Gordon or Hosmer could surpass them someday.
Round 2: George Brett, 1971
When you're the team's only Hall of Famer, there's no argument. Brett is best, 21 years as a Royal, although he's had some good second-round company in Carlos Beltran (1995), Mark Gubicza (1981) and Dennis Leonard ('72).
Round 3: David Cone, 1981
Traded away as a kid, Cone returned to win a Cy Young Award in 1994 and had a marvelous career elsewhere. Current pitcher Danny Duffy (2007) and traded outfielder Wil Myers ('09) are other third-round choices with future potential.
Round 4: Bo Jackson, 1986
A football star built lasting memories as a legendary slugging and outfield superman. Other Royals in this round included outfielder David DeJesus (2000) and catcher Mike Macfarlane ('85). Speaking of football, KC also took pitcher Dan Marino in 1979.
Round 5: Rich Gale, 1975
A tall right-hander, Gale was a serviceable starter for four years in KC. First baseman Ken Harvey ('99) was a 2004 All-Star. Current reliever Louis Coleman ('09) is another fifth-rounder.
Round 6: Tom Gordon, 1986
Flash Gordon pitched 21 years in the Majors, the first eight with the Royals. He won 17 games as a rookie, starting and relieving in '89. Outfielder Deion Sanders was drafted in '85, but didn't sign.
Round 7: Mike Aviles, 2003
A determined shortstop, Aviles played four years with the Royals and has also filled roles for the Red Sox and Indians.
Round 8: Phil Hiatt, 1990
A tall, power-hitting third baseman, Hiatt played parts of two seasons with KC, but he hit most of his homers in the Minors.
Round 9: Mark Ellis, 1999
Never played for the Royals but was terrific for the A's, who got him in a trade with Johnny Damon and sent shortstop Angel Berroa and catcher A.J. Hinch to KC.
Round 10: Mike Sweeney, 1991
Sweeney became a hard-hitting first baseman, designated hitter and captain for 13 years with KC. Current closer Greg Holland is another 10th-round gem.
Round 11: Joe Randa, 1991
Almost a dead heat between third basemen, but Randa gets the nod over Kevin Seitzer (1983) with an edge in KC longevity and power.
Round 12: Mark Littell, 1971
The talented reliever edges out two-time All-Star starter Jose Rosado, who was sidetracked by arm trouble. Littell was traded to the Cardinals for another closer, Al Hrabosky.
Round 13: Rod Myers, 1991
The outfielder played parts of two seasons for the Royals. An unlucky round; just three of 46 KC picks made the Majors so far.
Round 14: Tom Edens, 1983
Traded to the Mets for veteran infielder Tucker Ashford; neither played for KC, but Edens had a seven-year career as a reliever.
Round 15: Ken Phelps, 1976
Outfielder had 11 big league seasons, playing 761 games, but only briefly with KC, mostly with the Mariners and Yankees. Royals traded him for 39-year-old reliever Grant Jackson.
The 2014 Draft will take place on June 5-7, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Thursday, June 5, at 5 p.m. CT. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 6 p.m., with the top 74 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of the second and third days will begin with a live Draft show at 11:30 a.m. CT on June 6.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com.