Royals Farm Report is back to the grind of tracking the top amateur prospects in the game as we approach the Rule 5 Draft on June 3rd. Unlike last year, the Royals don’t have an abundance of top 50 picks due to the loss of a number of top tier free agents. What they do have is the number 2 overall selection, just behind the Orioles and Rookie GM Mike Elias. With college and high school baseball firing back up we will be checking in regularly with some of the top performers leading up to the draft. Here’s a look at what happened during the first weekend of action.
Adley Rutschman – Catcher – Oregon State
If there is a consensus top player in this draft heading into the 2019 season it’s Adley. Buoyed by an outstanding 2018 collegiate season and a strong performance for Team USA, Rutschman is the player that most pundits are projecting to be picked 1.1 by the Baltimore Orioles. Adley picked up where he left off last year going 4-12, with 2 HR (1 GS), 6 RBI, and a 7:4 BB to K ratio.
Bobby Witt, Jr. – SS – Colleyville Heritage High School
Witt is currently viewed by most (including MLB Pipeline) as the number 2 player in the class. Listed as a SS, he’s played elsewhere defensively suggesting perhaps that an added benefit to his offensive skill could be position flexibility in the future. That said, the bat should play anywhere. If Witt can address the swing and miss concerns (which seem to be diminished somewhat after this summer) he can cement his status in the top 2. Witt is a potential 5 tool player, below is a look at his speed out of the box.
Daniel Espino – RHP – Georgia Premier Academy
The top prep arm in the draft, Espino has big velocity and a couple of plus breaking pitches that he uses to mow down hitters. This draft is weaker in pitching talent at the college AND high school level, so it’s not unfair to suggest that Espino could be a top 3 pick in June with a strong season. Espino started off on the right foot this weekend, pitching 3 innings and striking out 9. During the outing his fastball reached 97 mph and his curve and slider flashed plus.
Andrew Vaughn – 1B – Cal
So Vaughn doesn’t have a projectable body, he’s slow and will likely be relegated to first base as a pro. Based on these facts, you wouldn’t typically expect to see a young man with these “deficiencies” considered a consensus top 5 player in the upcoming draft, but that probably says more about how much damage Vaughn does at the plate than anything else. Vaughn has the bat to ball skills, the power and the keen eye that teams look for in a middle of the order bat. Vaughn was outstanding in his first four games going 5-11 with 2 HR, 5 RBI and a 9:1 BB to K ratio.
Graeme Stinson – LHP – Duke
Stinson isn’t your typical TOP collegiate arm heading into this season. He’s earned most of his hype by being an elite reliever for the Blue Devils. He’s got a strong, low 90s fastball that can reach the mid 90s, but his best pitch is his wipeout slider that grades as one of the best pitches in the entire draft class. He’ll have to prove that he can start at a high level over the course of the season but the stuff is there.
Kameron Misner – OF – Mizzou
The final name on my initial list is one that SOME Royals fans may be familiar with and one I had to throw out for our boy, Alex Duvall. Misner was drafted in the 33rd round of the 2016 draft by Kansas City out of Poplar Bluff High School. He ultimately chose to attend the University of Missouri and it seems to have paid off in a big way. Misner caught fire last season before a foot injury cut his season short. He’s picked up where he left off and looks to be a favorite “helium guy”, potentially raising his stock to top 10 territory contingent on a strong performance in the SEC. The tools are loud and Misner’s performance opening weekend shows that he could be putting it all together. In a three game series, Kameron went 4-10 with 2 HR (narrowly missing a third), 3 RBI and a 4:2 BB to K ratio.