Is Witt the pick for KC at No. 2?
Royals expected to take best player available with their first selection
KANSAS CITY -- As the Royals continue their rebuilding process, they will get plenty of opportunities to get near-ready prospects in this year’s MLB Draft.
The Royals had four of the top 40 picks in 2018, and they will have five of the top 109 picks (No. 2, 44, 70, 80 and 109) this time around.
The 2019 Draft will take place tonight through Wednesday, beginning with tonight's Draft preview show on MLB Network and MLB.com at 5 CT. MLB Network will broadcast the first 41 picks (Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A), while MLB.com will stream all 78 picks on Day 1. MLB.com will also provide live pick-by-pick coverage of Rounds 3-10 on Day 2, beginning with a preview show at 12:30 p.m. ET. Then, Rounds 11-40 can be heard live on MLB.com on Day 3, beginning at noon ET.
Go to MLB.com/Draft to see the Top 200 Prospects list, mock Drafts from MLB Pipeline analysts Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, the complete order of selection and more. And follow @MLBDraft on Twitter to see what Draft hopefuls, clubs and experts are saying.
Here’s how the Draft is shaping up for the Royals, whose first selection is the second overall pick.
In about 50 words
The Royals are more bullish on their system than most of the rating systems.
“We are very pleased with the direction our system is going,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said.
The Royals went heavy on college pitching last season, picking four college pitchers -- including Brady Singer (their No. 1 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline) from Florida -- with those four picks in the top 40. Last year’s Class A Lexington team, which won a league championship, housed many of their top prospects from MJ Melendez (No. 4) to Nick Pratto (No. 5) to Seuly Matias (No. 6). Most of that Lexington group moved to Class A Advanced Wilmington this season, which was by design to keep that group growing together through the system.
What they’re saying
“Actually, that really wasn’t necessarily by design, but when Brady fell to us at No. 18, it just started that trend. This Draft isn’t as college-pitching rich as last year’s, but we’ll see. We felt very good about our Draft last year and we have a good feeling about this one." -- Royals scouting director Lonnie Goldberg, on whether the organization will go college heavy in philosophy, as they appeared to do in 2018
Who might they take?
Naturally, the Royals aren’t hinting at who they might take, but MLB Pipeline has been consistently projecting them to take Bobby Witt Jr., a five-tool shortstop from Colleyville (Texas) Heritage HS. The one thing we know about Moore’s drafting style is that they’ll take a complete athlete with a pick that high (think Eric Hosmer, Hunter Dozier, etc.) and not a one-dimensional hitter-only type.
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $125,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.
Any team going up to five percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75 percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75 percent tax, plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100 percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100 percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.
The Royals will have the third-largest bonus pool for the first 10 rounds -- $13,108,000. Their No. 2 pick will have an assigned value of $7,789,900.
The Royals obviously will go with the best player available at No. 2, and that seems likely to be Witt Jr. They loaded up on college pitching last year, and the organization has terrific depth at catcher behind Salvador Perez in Melendez, Meibrys Viloria (No. 18) and Sebastian Rivero (No. 27). While shortstop Adalberto Mondesi and second baseman Nicky Lopez might be their combo for quite a while, they do need to look for more athletic middle infielders (beyond Witt).
As mentioned, the Royals went heavy on college pitchers last June, which may jump-start their rebuilding process with pitchers perhaps closer to the bigs. Of their first 20 pitchers taken in 2018, all 20 were college hurlers. There certainly is an urgency to get near-ready prospects again after suffering a 104-loss season last year, and enduring another season hurtling towards 90-plus losses. The Royals would like to be competitive again in the division by '21, and that means some of these college pitchers have to make a quick jump to the Majors.
Recent top picks
2018: Brady Singer, RHP (Class A Advanced Wilmington)
2017: Nick Pratto, 1B (Wilmington)
2016: No first-round pick
2015: Ashe Russell, RHP
2014: Brandon Finnegan, LHP (Reds, traded in July 2015)