It is finally, officially, baseball season again. Pitchers and catchers have reported to big league Spring Training, college baseball got kicked off with a bang last night, the smell of fresh cut grass and hot dogs is in the air…what more could you ask for?
For the last couple of years, since we started Royals Farm Report back in June of 2017, the Kansas City Royals have had some very eventful drafts. In 2018 they had picks #18, #33, #34, and #40, then last year they had the second overall pick. Because of the sheer importance of those drafts, we did a ton of draft coverage here at Royals Farm Report, including our 2019 MLB Draft Guide, and articles like this where we just catch you up on how some of the top draft prospects both locally and around the country have been performing.
With college baseball kicking off last night, I thought it would be fun to get these back rolling again, as a reminder of how important the 2020 draft will be for the Royals farm system again this year. Just as a reminder of how these articles have worked in the past, here are some of the prospects we’ll cover this spring:
- Players that are candidates to be drafted #4 overall by KC this June
- Players that guys on the staff like as options for KC’s next picks at #32 and #41
- Anyone we think could be a good addition to the system later in the draft
- Local prospects from the KC area, Mizzou, KU, K-State, etc.
Let’s get it.
Nick Gonzales, SS/2B, New Mexico State
Gonzales put up video game numbers as a junior at New Mexico State, hitting .432/.532/.773/1.305 with 16 HR in 55 games. There was some concern about him playing at elevation, and maybe the power numbers being unsustainable moving forward. He silenced those concerns by hitting .531 with 7 HR and winning the MVP of the Cape Cod League, the most prestigious collegiate summer league in the country, in 2019. Gonzales followed all of that up by going 2-4 in his team’s opener last night with a double, a home run, a walk, and a really nice play up the middle at SS. The SS thing is a new development worth watching. Gonzales was almost strictly a 2B last year and scouts question whether he has the arm to play SS at the professional level. If he plays a good SS this year, he may not even be on the board for KC at #2.
Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M
Lacy has dominated college baseball the last couple of seasons, posting a 2.32 ERA in 128 IP with 178 K to just 60 BB. The kid has been absolutely dominant and is the co-front runner with Gonzales to be selected at #4 by KC this June. He got his 2020 campaign rolling last night with a six-inning scoreless outing in which he struck out 8 and walked just 2.
Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Harvard-Westlake HS (California)
Pete Crow-Armstrong is a wildly athletic outfielder that could sneak his way to KC at #4 with a strong spring. We’ll update you more on him when his spring season gets rolling.
Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA
Another wildcard for KC at #4, Mitchell is a wildly gifted center fielder that could sneak his way to #4 with a dominant spring. He hit .349/.418/.566/.984 with 32 XBH and 18 SB as a junior at UCLA last spring. He wen 1-3 with a SB in his team’s opener yesterday.
Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Arizona State
The next few guys on this list are probably going to already be off the board when KC’s turn comes up, but Gonzales and Lacy are so talented that really anything could happen. Torkelson is by far the best hitter in this draft class (it’s really not particularly close) but is limited by his position as a 1B/DH. That said, he hits enough that it probably doesn’t matter. As a sophomore at Arizona State, Torkelson hit .351/.446/.707/1.153 with 23 home runs and 17 doubles in 57 games. He wasted not time getting the party started last night as he homered in his team’s season opener, finishing 1-2 with the HR and a pair of walks.
Austin Martin, 3B, Vanderbilt
Between Austin Martin and Nick Gonzales, this draft has a couple of excellent options for teams drafting in the top 5-6 to grab a solid middle infielder with a loud bat. Martin hit .410/.503/.619/1.122 as a sophomore for the eventual CWS Champion Commodores. He didn’t record a hit against Michigan last night in Vandy’s season opener, but Martin may be the leading candidate to go #1 overall to Detroit at this point in the season. Things can obviously change drastically between now and June 10th.
Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia
Hancock may be the best pitching prospect since Stephen Strasburg as we approach the beginning of the college baseball season. He throws absolute BBs out of his right arm and has two potentially plus-plus offspeed offerings to go with it. As a sophomore at UGA, Hancock posted a 1.99 ERA with 97 K and just 18 walks in 90.1 IP. That kind of performance in the SEC is probably not repeatable, so don’t be shocked if those numbers regress just a hair in 2020. Hancock didn’t have an elite night last night, giving up 6 ER in 4 IP with just 4 K, but he’s still probably a lock to be one of the first two players drafted this June.
Ian Bedell, RHP, Mizzou
Bedell made waves as a potential day one pick last year when he posted a 1.56 ERA in 40.1 innings out of the bullpen for Mizzou. Bedell’s three pitch mix, FB/CB/CH, helped him neutralize both righties and lefties, and Bedell made good on his performance in the SEC by winning the Pitcher of the Year Award in the Cape Cod League last summer. As many things as Bedell does well, he doesn’t really have any elite traits about him, meaning he should be there for KC at #32 and probably even at #41. Bedell got his 2020 season rolling last night with an 11 K, 6 inning performance yesterday. He gave up a pair of two-run home runs, which will be worth watching, but he looked really good all day.
Slade Cecconi, RHP, Miami
Cecconi is a guy that I really liked out of high school for KC during the 2018 draft, and is now a draft-eligible sophomore coming out of Miami. He struck out 66 batters in 59.1 IP last spring, with just 16 walks, and has some really electric stuff. I’m not sure what the signability will be like, but he could be a great college arm for KC at #32 if he’s still available.
JT Ginn, RHP, Mississippi State
Ginn is a guy that is well loved by both national analysts and by a lot of guys on our own staff. He shows a good three pitch mix with a lively fastball, great changeup, and power slider. He struck out 103 batters and walked just 18 in 80.1 IP last year for the Bulldogs, and is now arguably the highest rated draft-eligible sophomores in the draft class. I’m not sure that he’ll still be around when KC picks at #32, but he’s an intriguing guy nonetheless. He got his 2020 season rolling last night with a 3 inning, 4 K performance.
Jake Eder, LHP, Vanderbilt
Jake Eder has some of the best pure stuff of anybody in this draft class. He’s a funky lefty capable of popping 97 mph on the radar gun with a great curveball. He has had some trouble commanding that stuff and was moved to the bullpen last year, causing him to slip in some draft rankings, but he’ll have a chance to reconcile some of those concerns in the rotation in 2020.
Aaron Sabato, 1B, North Carolina
Sabato made a bunch of noise as a freshman at UNC last year, hitting .335/.437/.650/1.087 with 13 HR in 56 games. He could have a ton of helium and not be available for KC at #32, but if he is, and KC goes with Lacy at #4, Sabato could be a huge bat (and another draft-eligible sophomore) for KC to add to their system later in the draft. He didn’t record any hits in his team’s opener last night, but did draw a couple of walks and record an RBI.
Carson Seymour, RHP, K-State
Seymour is a guy that could still be around for KC in the 3rd round if everything falls right. As a freshman at Dartmouth back in 2018, Seymour recorded only 7.1 IP. He’s going to have a bit to prove this spring for the Wildcats, but his stuff is dynamic. He touched 99 mph this past fall at K-State and has two really good breaking balls in his CB and SL. Seymour gave up 4 runs and struck out 5 over 4.1 innings in his Wildcat debut last night.
Photo Credits: Texas A&M Baseball