It says a lot about an organization’s farm system when the 18-year-old they just drafted in the first round instantly becomes the top-rated prospect. It says a lot, unfortunately none of it is good. That was exactly what occurred when the Royals drafted 1B Nick Pratto in the 1st round of the 2017 Draft. That’s not to say Pratto wasn’t a highly regarded high school prospect. It is more of an indictment on the state of the Royals minor leagues. He’s been on most scout’s radar for years after stepping up and delivering the game winning hit in the 2011 Little League World Series.
Pratto, a 6’1” 195lbs out of Huntington Beach California, has a polished swing from the left side. Most reports had him going in the first round despite his offer from USC. He was an infusion of high ceiling talent the Royals desperately needed. Two trips to the World Series has the tendency to deplete an organization’s farm system when trying to fill holes on the major league roster.
Pratto was also scouted as a pitcher coming out of high school. The southpaw sat at 88-90 with his fastball but most considered his bat too promising to draft as a pitcher. Very few high school hitters have shown the plate discipline that Pratto exhibited. This fact alone makes the selection of Pratto by the Royals seem a bit odd. The Royals typically don’t value plate discipline like other organizations do. Pratto may signal a change in that philosophy.
One thing the Royals do value highly is character and personal makeup. I have not heard nor read a negative comment about Pratto. He’s often mentioned as having a great work ethic. In fact, shortly after the draft Dayton Moore was quoted by Baseball America saying this about Pratto: “He’s an absolute winner”.
Moore was also quoted by Royals pre and post-game host Josh Vernier calling Pratto an “elite defender”. Moore also mentioned Pratto could play the outfield but 1B was by far his best position. With a plus bat and plus glove, Pratto’s only true weakness is his speed.
Starting his Royals career in the Arizona League (Rookie), Pratto put up a .247/.330/.414 slash line. Plate discipline usually translates to all levels and Pratto is no exception. There are questions about his power potential. If his power develops he has a chance to produce much like Anthony Rizzo who many compare Pratto’s swing to.
At 19, there is no reason to rush him but if Pratto has a big 2018, he could move up multiple levels. By August the Royals system could be back on track with 4 picks before the 2nd round and their #1 prospect having played at a level other than High School.
Photo Credits: Bill Mitchell