Royals draft hometown kid Carter Jensen

July 14th, 2021

Carter Jensen couldn’t count how many times he has sat in the stands at Kauffman Stadium and dreamt about being one of the players on the field. The Kansas City native and Park Hill High School graduate has gone to a lot of Royals games in his lifetime, always with the dream of playing Major League Baseball one day.

Never did it seem as much of a possibility as it did Monday when his hometown Royals drafted the catcher in the third round of the 2021 MLB Draft.

“It was definitely one of the best moments that ever happened to me,” Jensen said. “It’s indescribable. Knowing that I’m going to play professional baseball for the team I grew up watching and cheering for, it’s really incredible.”

Jensen has been on the Royals’ radar for a while, having played on some of their scout teams. Drafting players close by means almost as much to the organization as it does to Jensen, as the 18-year-old noted how proud he’ll feel to put on a Royals jersey for the first time. He’s modeled his game after the Royals’ veteran All-Star catcher, Salvador Perez, and wanted to hit a home run into the fountains at The K during a pre-Draft workout because of how many he’s seen splash in there while watching as a fan.

“I was close getting one in,” Jensen said. “Hopefully as I get stronger, I can get a bunch of them in there.”

He added: “You know, being from here, you can either have pressure or you can be more relaxed. And I think I’m relaxed. I grew up here. I want to make everyone proud. I think it’ll be easy for me to adjust. It’s going to be really fun.”

Tuesday was less hectic for Jensen, but the Draft rolled on with Rounds 11-20. The Royals ended Day 3 of the Draft by taking nine collegiate players out of their 10 picks, including North Carolina State catcher Luca Tresh, who was ranked 101st on MLB Pipeline’s Top 250 Draft prospects list, in the 17th round. There might be questions about his signability because he dropped into the final rounds, but the Royals are ecstatic they have a chance to get his power and improving receiving skills into their system.

Overall, in the 2021 MLB Draft, the Royals took three high school pitchers -- all within the first four rounds -- three high school position players, six college hitters and nine college pitchers.

“I thought we got some balance,” assistant scouting director Danny Ontiveros said. “We got six left-handed pitchers, six right-handed pitchers. We got nine position players. Three of those were switch hitters. Drafted six high school guys. So I think there was a pretty good combination of balance and guys we targeted.”

By signing high school lefty Frank Mozzicato at No. 7 overall, the Royals got a high-upside pitcher with one of the best prep breaking balls in the Draft -- while also being able to save bonus pool money to make a splash on Day 2 by signing two local prep players, Jensen and right-hander Ben Kudrna (No. 43 overall out of Blue Valley Southwest High School). Both are committed to LSU, but the Royals feel confident they can sign them away from college and begin their professional careers. They also took second baseman Peyton Wilson, a switch-hitting sophomore at Alabama, No. 66 overall.

Jensen and Kudrna were planning on rooming together in Baton Rouge come the fall. Now, Jensen hopes they can be roommates at the Royals’ facility in Surprise, Ariz., where they’ll begin their professional careers once contracts are signed.

Jensen describes himself as a “blue-collared worker” and scouts rave about his pure hitting ability. Over the offseason, Jensen worked out with pro players at Premier Baseball Kansas City and stood out for his capability to handle both high velocities and quality offspeed stuff.

“They’re getting a special bat,” Premier Baseball owner Bob Zimmermann said. “We have our pro guys go live weekly in the offseason, and he’s chomping at the bit to go face off against them. He not only handled his own but produced very well every time. Every single arm is throwing 95 mph plus, and he’s able to handle the breaking balls that are elite-level pitches.”

Jensen would catch bullpens at the facility any chance he got, and as he began to realize his potential in the Draft, he would try to face anyone he could, wherever he could.

“He’s ready to do something to get after it,” Zimmermann said. “If I shot him a text and was like, ‘Hey Carter, I got somebody throwing a bullpen at 8 a.m. tomorrow on a Saturday, any chance you could come catch?’ He’s like, ‘Yep, I’ll be there.’ Same with the lives. He doesn’t care if a guy is throwing 100, he wants to be in a box and show what he can do. I feel like you don’t see that all the time anymore.

“Guys are trying to pick their spots, events, showcases, and Carter’s so confident and secure in himself that he’s going to show up and compete, not care who it’s in front of. He’s going to show everybody how good he is.”

Final notes from Day 3

• The Royals started Tuesday by selecting shortstop Brennon McNair out of Magee High School in Mississippi, the only prep player Kansas City selected in Rounds 11-20. He’s a quick shortstop with versatility and has a simple right-handed swing that has tons of room for development.

“This kid’s got the chance to be special,” Ontiveros said. “It’s electric bat speed. When I’ve seen him, he reminded me a little bit of Ron Gant at an early age. He’s physically strong, but it’s going to get stronger. It’s really an advanced bat.”

• Outfielder River Town was the Royals’ 15th-round pick and immediately shot up the rankings for best name in the Draft, but he’s also a very solid pick out of Dallas Baptist, where Ben Zobrist went to school and where Royals pitching coach Cal Eldred’s son, Luke, plays. Town is a sophomore who hit .323 this year with a .433 on-base percentage and possesses a professional approach in the box with versatility in the outfield.