After a Royals draft that was distinctly different than the rapid-fire action that occurred last year, the Royals wound up with their new top prospect. At the same time, there were two other picks that left Royals fans with some questions. As the first day closes, here are some grades for each draft pick.
Bobby Witt Jr., 2nd overall pick, Colleyville HS, SS: A
Bobby Witt Jr. was largely considered the 2nd best prospect in the draft, which made this pick a no-brainer. It was somewhat difficult rating this pick, but I decided to grade it an A as it was the best possible pick that could be made, but ultimately could not be graded higher because Bobby’s name isn’t Adley.
Just because he is not Adley Rustchman doesn’t mean you should not be excited: Witt is one hell of a player. Receiving praises ranging all the way to “best SS prep prospect in the last 20 years.” The hit tool grades out as decent, with concerns about his strikeouts, but the power that Witt has shown is what leaves scouts drooling over his potential. On the other side of the ball, Witt is an elite defender, and has incredible potential as very few prospects have his size, arm, strength, and mental stature.
Overall, I really like this pick for the Royals. It was the obvious one, it was the only correct one, and ultimately it was the one that was made. Witt Jr. has an immense amount of potential, and that is why he will inevitably be the Royals’ top prospect.
Brady McConnell, 44th overall pick, University of Florida, SS: B
Brady McConnell had some wide ranging opinions on him, as MLB Pipeline had him graded as the 39th best draft prospect, Baseball America had him at 59th, and our draft guide had him outside of the top 80. Either way, he had some hitting concerns coming into this year, as his lackluster performance his freshman year of college did not instill the confidence in his prospect status that had originally carried him to the 37th overall 2017 draft prospect. His hitting greatly recovered this year, as he posted a .333/.385/.582/.967 line, but with a concerning 56 K’s and just 17 BB’s in just 242 PA’s.
Overall, he has shown he can put the bat on the ball with some pop, and has always portrayed that to scouts, so if he can manage to reconcile that K number then he can be a valuable prospect. I still do not know how I feel about this pick, as there were still several other prospects with significantly more upside available (Nasim Nunez), but perhaps a college SS is a good counter to a high-ceiling, low-floor top prospect like Witt. Overall, I would grade the pick as average.
Alec Marsh, 70th overall pick, Arizona State, RHP: B-
Alec Marsh was not a bad pick, nor was he a glamorous pick. The former Sun Devils pitcher has 5 pitches that all grade out as average with a potential for an above-average fastball, according to BA. His fastball sits in the low-to-mid 90’s, with a 78-82 MPH slider and a 72-76 MPH curve (credit to Baseball America for the stats). Either way, with the 70th overall pick, teams either select a college arm without elite velocity and average secondaries or risk it on paying a HS arm well over slot, and the Royals opted for the cheaper of the two options. While you cannot necessarily blame them, that discount comes at a price, and that comes in the form of decreased potential. With that, Marsh could realistically become a reliever.
Overall Day 1 Draft Grade: B
This grade is much heavier weighted on the final two picks as the first pick was essentially (or what should have been) a no-brainer. In picking McConnell, they may have to sign him over slot, as he’s a draft eligible sophomore and could theoretically make a rise in next year’s draft, which means the Royals must truly believe in that bat. As for Marsh, there is nothing flashy there, but a guy who could potentially become a back-end starter or a quality reliever someday. In combination with a very solid guy at the top who was the obvious pick, I would grade the Royals draft as average, giving them a grade of B.
Photo Credits: UF Baseball Website