The annual Rule 5 Draft takes place THIS MORNING at 11 am CT. The Kansas City Royals hold the 2nd pick of the draft, just like they will during the amateur draft next June. With that being said, we’ll be doing as much Rule 5 coverage as possible today here at Royals Farm. For this stop, here’s a look at a guy that I think the Royals will potentially be looking at if he’s available at #2.
Here are the potential draftees we’ve covered already:
- Jairo Beras
- Zach Thompson
- Ray-Patrick Didder
- Jackson McClellan
- Reed Garrett
- Riley Ferrell
- Trevor Clifton
- Chris Ellis
Alright boys and girls, we may have a new #1 target. Sam McWilliams has slid into the role of “Alex’s favorite Rule 5 Draft target”.
Sam McWilliams is a 6′ 7″ (!!!!) RHP from the Tampa Bay Rays organization who owns a fastball that sits in the 94-95 mph range. Think Chris Young but throws hard. FanGraphs wrote up their “The Fringe Five: Baseball’s Most Compelling Fringe Prospects”, in June, and McWilliams was included in the article. Here’s what Carson Cistulli of FanGraphs had to say about McWilliams:
“Curiously, this post features two players who’ve changed clubs as a result of February’s Steven Souza deal. Arizona right-hander Taylor Widener, traded from the Yankees to D-backs is one of them. McWilliams is the other. After starting the season with the D-backs’ High-A affiliate, he was sent to Tampa Bay as the Rays’ PTBNL. Following three appearances with Tampa Bay’s Florida State League club, McWilliams was promoted to Double-A, where he now resides.
McWilliams has been good all season, recording strikeout and walk rates of 24.1% and 6.3%, respectively, in 57.1 innings. His last two starts, however, have been particularly strong — particularly for a pitcher who’s contending with a new level. Over his last 13.0 innings, McWilliams has produced strikeout and walk rates of 31.3% and 2.1%, respectively.
McWilliams’ appeal as a prospect, however, isn’t limited merely to the results. One finds in McWilliams an unusual and imposing combination of height and velocity. John Eshleman of 2080 Baseball saw McWilliams sitting at 94-96 mph roughly a month ago. From a 6-foot-7 pitcher with a high-three-quarters arm slot, the effect is unsettling.
As a sort of object lesson, consider the following clip from McWilliams’ most recent start:
https://gfycat.com/ifr/directfinekusimanse#?secret=UyHXHDevAAThis is obviously a bad pitch. What it forces one to consider, however, is the extent to which McWilliams’ offerings are more or less falling from the sky. This ball has the illusion of have been thrown almost straight downwards. Nor would it be surprising if it were released closer to home than usual, as well. Given his length, McWilliams figures to possess some kind of advantage above and beyond the plus velocity.”
The Royals showed a willingness to pillage the Rays system last year when they traded for Burch smith after he was selected in the Rule 5 Draft. I think McWilliams may have the most immediate upside in this draft. He just recently turned 23 years old has never had control problems to speak of in the minor leagues. He gets a ton of ground balls, strikes out his fair share of batters, and doesn’t walk many. He’s 23 years old, 6′ 7″, and throws 95 mph. If Sam McWilliams isn’t exactly what the Royals are looking for, I don’t know who is.