I got the idea to do a shadow draft from John Sickels. He always did a shadow draft over at Minor League Ball which was part of SBNation focusing on the minors. The goal is to pick along with your team and follow the guys you “bring” to your system. You have to pick real time or without the knowledge of other guys who were drafted. That way you can’t cheat. You can’t just pick anyone and everyone because you have to find ways to sign guys. You are playing GM without the ability to give out real contracts. And everyone thinks they are a better GM the Dayton Moore, so this is your time to shine. Here is my 2020 Royals shadow draft.
4. Austin Martin, OF, Vanderbilt – This was so hard to make a decision. There was no way that Martin, Lacy, Hancock, and Veen were all available to us at four. No way. Well, it happened and I had to make a decision on who to take. I chose the best position player because we have some pitching depth in the organization already. I couldn’t believe the Royals passed on Martin. He is like, exactly what the Royals want in the draft. Strong up the middle. Can play multiple positions well. Strong arm. Very athletic. Can run and steal. High contact. Well, I went with the bat. The Royals went with Lacy and Martin went to the Jays with the next pick.
32. Tanner Burns, RHP, Auburn – You’ll see that I ended up with a lot of guys I wrote previews for. I picked them because I thought they were the best options when I watched players this last spring. I didn’t go with any high school kids because there is no development for the 2020 minor league season. I went with guys who are almost a finished product. Burns was no exception. I love the intangibles, ability, track record, genes, and the fact he learned from Casey Mize. Burns has pitched in the biggest college atmosphere and has won a CWS title. I brought a winner with everything else to go along to the system. The Royals picked Nick Loftin and Burns went four picks later to the Indians.
41. CJ Van Eyk, RHP, Florida State – I love CJ Van Eyk. He is just a dude. He competes, has great stuff, and was slightly undervalued this spring because he had a little bit of inconsistency in the cold weather. I considered a few other guys here including RHP Chris McMahon who I really liked as well. I didn’t think either Van Eyk or McMahon would last until my next pick at 76, so I went with the one I liked better. Van Eyk can join his teammate Drew Parrish from Florida State last year. The Royals selected Ben Hernandez while Van Eyk went the very next pick to the Blue Jays. McMahon went four picks later to the Rockies.
76. Sam Weatherly, LHP, Clemson – At this point, I started worrying about taking all pitchers other than my first round pick. But, I decided that didn’t matter because of how deep the college pitching pool was. I was shocked Weatherly made it to 76 and decided I needed his left arm in my system. He has no-hit stuff all the time, it’s just a matter of limiting the free passes. The Royals took Tyler Gentry and Weatherly went five picks later to the Rockies.
105. Tommy Mace, RHP, Florida – re-Draft – Tyler Keenan, 1B, Ole Miss – Okay, so I took Tommy Mace at 105 because I figured he’d get taken and this would be a bargain. Mace is a stud. I especially like that he gets quick outs and lasts deep into games seemingly with ease. However, Mace was asking for too much and did not get picked. You’ll see his name probably in the first round of the 2021 draft. Some other Shadow Drafters decided that if a guy wasn’t selected, you could have a re-draft in this draft only. I decided to join that line of thinking. There was no way we knew the demands so we had no idea Mace wouldn’t have been drafted. So, with my re-draft, I decided I needed a bat. The Pirates drafted Keenan and listed him at third base but I don’t think he will ever play third in the majors. I think he moves to first almost immediately. His bat will play and he has tremendous power. I wanted to add some power to my system and picked Keenan over the solid SS Joey Wiemer from Cincinnati. I picked the bat over the defense in this instance.
135. Will Klein, RHP, Eastern Illinois – I knew I was going to pick Klein in this spot for about a month. I just was hoping he’d make it this far. I really like the potential from him and feel like there is a high floor as a reliever if he can’t start. The Royals agreed with me and made the same selection which made me feel really good about myself. Hopefully, it works out or they’ll never listen to me again. (They didn’t listen to me to start with.)
I’m not sure about the Non-Drafted Free Agent market or how to play that, but if I was signing guys, I’d absolutely be targeting Miami RHP Brian Van Belle. I really liked Van Belle when I was watching all the Miami Hurricanes games drooling over their entire staff. He was their Friday guy with lesser stuff than his two teammates who were both drafted.
I was also looking at Georgia SS Cam Shepherd. He doesn’t have one tool that really leaps out at you but he can hit and has started for four years at a premium position in the SEC.
I’m also interested in the third Louisville pitcher, RHP Luke Smith. He was behind first rounders Detmers and Miller. He doesn’t have their stuff, but he has determination and grit. He is a solid arm that would bring good depth to the system.
I need to bring in at least one catcher with this class so I’m looking at a player the Royals already did sign in Kale Emshoff from Arkansas-Little Rock. He had an incredible spring coming off of 2019 TJ surgery and even took Mizzou’s Ian Bedell deep this spring. Emshoff can play the position and hit the ball.
The Royals also brought in LHP AJ Block from Washington State. The big lefty was having a strong season and throws four pitches for strikes. You can never have too many 6’5″ LHPs in your system that throw strikes. Who knows how he will develop. This is an easy sign because he’s already been signed by the Royals.
The last guy I’ll mention is OF Bradlee Beesley from Cal Poly. The senior is a consistent hitter who has shown some good contact skills with the wood bat in the Cape. He doesn’t hit a lot of home runs, but he does hit a lot of doubles. He doesn’t steal a lot of bases, but he is a good teammate and solid player. You need players like this to keep everyone even-keeled around him and build your team camaraderie.
Hopefully you did a shadow draft too. If not, the 2021 Draft is just around the corner and you’ll have a chance to get on board with us! Just pick your favorite team and select who you would pick when it’s their turn.