The Royals made four selections to go with the Day One picks Asa Lacy and Nick Loftin. The Royals did not disappoint immediately making a splash with the selection of RHP Ben Hernandez from De La Salle HS in Chicago. Hernandez pitched very well on the showcase circuit and on national television in the Under Armour All-American Game at Wrigley Field. Hernandez has a smooth and easy delivery throwing mid-90s with more in the tank as his body continues to fill out. Hernandez also possesses the best change up in the high school class.
The Royals followed up their selection of Hernandez with the selection of Alabama outfielder Tyler Gentry. Gentry is known for his power. As a freshman at Walters State CC, Gentry hit 18 home runs. He then transferred to Alabama for his sophomore year. He lead Alabama in most offensive categories in his abbreviated two years as a member of the Crimson Tide. Gentry was having an incredible start to the 2020 season and will probably start his professional career as a right fielder for the Royals.
The Royals went back to the left-handed pitcher well that has been so good for them recently to select Oregon State LHP Christian Chamberlain. Everyone immediately labeled him as a reliever, but the Royals will give the mid-90s fireballer a chance to start. Chamberlain has a three pitch mix and a high strikeout count. College opponents were hitting just .086 against him when the season was cut short. The Royals have targeted power pitchers recently and that is exactly how you would describe Chamberlain. If you think back to the 2018 College World Series, you might remember a freshman for Oregon State tying a record with 11 strikeouts in relief. That was Chamberlain.
To finish their draft, the Royals selected RHP Will Klein out of Eastern Illinois University. Klein is 6’5″ and is another power pitcher. Last summer Klein hit 100 mph in the Northwoods All Star Game. Nobody hit him. He struggled somewhat last spring but really figured out how to use his ability in the Northwoods League. This spring, Klein started the season opener at Arkansas for the Panthers. Even though he took the loss, you could see the potential. Klein is projected to end up in the pen because of his bouts with control in the past. This spring, Klein walked 8 in 18.1 innings while striking out 24.
The Royals had a tremendous draft. They drafted the best player available throughout the draft and ended up with who they thought was the best pitcher in the country and best shortstop in the country. I’ve seen people giving this draft class grades of C and D and I just don’t get that. For years we’ve been asking the Royals to take the best players available and not draft for need and I think they did that this year. I think we should celebrate that because as fans, we know they did their best with no limitations to make our team better.
Image from USA Baseball.