With concern boiling among Royals fans about the possibility of losing prospects such as Ryan O’Hearn, Frank Schwindel, and Yunior Marte, the Royals made it out of Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft unscathed in the major league phase of the draft. But in the lesser known portion of the draft, the minor league phases, the Royals lost two players. This minor league part of the draft allows organizations to fill out open spots on their minor league rosters. Any player that is not on the 40-man roster or the minor league reserve roster is eligible for selection. But in most cases, teams are picking from far down the organizational roster, leaving a small amount of notable players to come out of these phases. Some notable players from this part of the draft are Ariel Hernandez, Justin Bour, Omar Narvaez, Quintin Berry, and Alejandro De Aza.
So after the Royals had made their moves to add players from external organizations, they lost two players in the minor league portion. Right-hander Andy Ferguson was taken by the Boston Red Sox with the 22nd overall pick in the AAA phase and third baseman Wander Franco was selected by the San Francisco Giants with the first selection of the 2nd round of the AAA phase, going 27th overall.
Andy Ferguson was in the Royals system for quite some time. Drafted in the 18th round of the 2011 draft out of Arkansas State, After struggling initially in his pro-ball debut, Ferguson put together a nice sophomore season in 2012, posting a 2.42 ERA in 16 starts, striking out 87 and walking 20 in 96.2 innings of work. As a result, the Royals pushed him up to AA, not faring exactly well in his debut season with the Naturals (5.16 ERA in 96 innings). He progressively got better when repeating AA though, having his best season to date in 2015, posting a 2.49 ERA, 2.1 BB/9, and 9.3 K/9 in 104.2 innings. You may be asking what happened to him after this fine season of him. Well… injuries clobbered him, as he has only thrown 40 innings since the start of 2016.
Ferguson features a low-90s fastball that has very little movement. He also holds a slider in his arsenal. Working at a downward plane, he commands both of his pitches well done in the zone, generating a nice amount of ground balls. Probably more of an organizational filler at this point.
Another Rule 5 causality was 23-year old infielder Wander Franco. Playing with a small frame of 6’2″ 170 lbs, Franco was predominantly a third baseman. He was once a promising prospect for this organization after hitting well in the lower-minors. Things were interrupted in his climb up the minor league ladder though when hit for a 61 wRC+ in 95 games with Wilmington last year. The Dominican Republic native in his second tour of High-A, hitting .279/.319/.376 in this past season, good for a 96 wRC+.
After two subpar seasons, Franco was finding himself descending down the organizational roster. He’s good with the glove at third and has above-average speed. He strikes out too much and pulls a lot of grounders to the pull side, so don’t expect a high average out of his bat. Like Ferguson, this powerless third baseman seems to be an organizational guy.