With the MLB Draft rapidly approaching, some of the top prospects have all but cemented their standing as the best of the class. Barring some unforseen circumstance, the Royals will not be drafting players like Casey Mize, Alec Bohm, Nick Madrigal, and Brady Singer. It really hasn’t been in the cards since the beginning. That being said, there are several players that were once considered top 10 talents that have slid for various reasons. Think of this piece as a bit of a primer which includes various players I’ve seen mocked to the Royals by the pundits or linked to the Royals through various sources.
Ethan Hankins – RHP – Once considered the top high school player in the class and potential first overall pick, Hankins has seen his stock slide for several reasons but the fall ultimately started when he experienced pain in his throwing shoulder earlier this season. He was quickly removed from the game for precautionary reasons. MRIs were negative and in the past couple of weeks the 6 foot 6 flame thrower has been back on the mound to finish his senior season as well as make a couple of showcase appearances. The velocity seems to be back, which could mean the stock is headed back in the right direction. Other issues include undisclosed ‘maturity’ questions and of course, signability. Hankins is part of a potentially legendary class committed to play next season at Vanderbilt. Odds: 50/50. Depending on how scouts react to his clean MRI and signability questions.
Shane McClanahan – USF – LHP – This powerhouse in a small package started out the season as my favorite college pitcher in the draft. True, he’s come back from Tommy John surgery, he’s not the biggest guy in the world, and doesn’t play in the SEC, but the numbers and the stuff are sexy. There, I said it. A lefty that can touch triple digits and has above average secondary pitches? Sounds like a recipe for success that not even the Orioles organization could screw up. McClanahan started out this season on FIRE. He was several starts into the season without allowing an earned run, then the control issues hit. It’s been an inconsistent 2018 season for McClanahan and while his stock hasn’t completely tanked, he’s slowly slid in mock drafts. Other college and high school pitchers stocks have risen above the southpaw, and unless he can find the stuff from the beginning of the season, McClanahan could be in for a bit of a fall. Odds: Not very likely, YET. We will have to keep an eye on how he finishes this season.
Nander De Sedas – SS/3B – The Puerto Rico native and Florida State commit had plenty of heat attached to his name after a big summer on the showcase cirtcuit. A switch-hitter with legitimate power from both sides of the plate, he’s a solid defender with a big arm that may someday have to move to third. His slide stems from problems at the plate in his senior season. I’ve read various chats and seen threads on social media that mention he may have slid out of the first round completely. Odds: Very likely to be available at 18, perhaps there as late as the second round.
Logan Gilbert – Stetson – RHP – This young man’s story is a bit perplexing to me. Gilbert has size (6 ft 5), a heater than can reach the mid 90s, and at least average secondary pitches. He started this season inside or on the fringe of the top 10 of most prospect rankings. He’s been lights out at Stetson. Yes, it’s a small program. It’s also the same program that spawned Jacob DeGrom and Corey Kluber. He’s been better than both while in college. Throw in the fact that he dominated the Cape this past summer against the best hitters that college baseball has to offer. Still, I haven’t seen a ton of buzz relative to the other top collegiate arms. Taylor Blake Ward has him going 20th to the Twins. Jim Callis has him at 14th. Perfect game has him at 21. Odds: Realitvely good odds that Gilbert is still hanging around at 18.
Jackson Kowar – UF – RHP – Kowar is kind of the anti-Gilbert. He’s tall, but he’s rail-thin. He can reach back and touch 97mph with his fastball. He’s also got a swing-and-miss change up that makes hitters in the SEC look foolish. He’s played on the biggest stage that college baseball has to offer on a National Championship winning team. The problems come from the mechanics and the inconsistencies. Kowar is the type of pitcher that can strike out the first 9 batters he faces and then turn around and give up 5 runs in the 4th inning. There’s effort in the delivery, so some question whether he will stick as a starter. There were some that thought he could challenge Singer as the first UF starter selected in the draft (myself included), but it just hasn’t turned out that way. Odds: He’s in the same boat as Gilbert, from what I can tell they’re usually selected near each other in mocks.
Brice Turang – SS – After the 2017 draft, some experts released early looks at some of the top ’18 prospects. Turang was on nearly every one of their lists, sometimes at the top. There’s still plenty to like in Turang’s game. For a HS kid he has an extensive track record playing at all of the biggest tournaments or showcases in front of all the scouts. He seems to control at bats, he has solid discipline and what some grade as a plus hit tool. The defense is solid, the speed is very good. Unfortunately for Turang, scouts wanted to see him take that step forward physically. To become a stronger player. There’s also the possibility that (like the rest of these players) some level of prospect fatigue has set in. Only time will tell. Odds: It will be interesting to see what happens here. His commitment to LSU may cause him to drop out of his current mid-1st round projection. Maybe some team with some extra cash would be willing to go above slot.
Griffin Conine – Duke – OF – Griffin entered this season on quite a few watch lists, poised to make a big jump as the son of a former big leaguer that has a corner outfield profile with plenty of pop in his bat. He absolutely demolished summer leagues (including the Cape last summer), showing of big power and a solid all-around profile. Then the 2018 Duke baseball season happened. As of 5/14 Conine is slashing .247/.380/.512. Definitely not what was expected after his sophomore breakout and summer ball results. Keep an eye on whether or not Conine returns to school. He could go back to try and improve his stock for the 2019 draft. Odds: Definitely fallen out of the first and remains to be seen just how far he’ll fall. Still big potential and track record with wood bats is a plus.