It’s been a few weeks since we’ve done one of these so I wanted to give an update on guys I think are still legitimately in play. Guys like Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker are going to fall off of this list, but just assume KC is going to be very interested if they fall to #7 some reason. MLB Pipeline and Baseball America both released mock drafts with KC taking Boston College CF Sal Frelick at #7 recently, but MLB Pipeline’s most recent mock had the Royals on prep SS Khalil Watson. Drake is typically our in-house prep draft guy, but I’ve seen a good bit of Watson and, outside of Dallas-area SS Jordan Lawlar, I think Watson is the next best prep draft prospect in this class. His upside is enormous, real 20-20 potential, and I think he’s a lock to stay up the middle defensively. This is going to be an article on college guys but I’m starting to think the value in this class may be in high-upside prep talent early on.
SS Matt McLain, UCLA
On April 5th, McLain was slashing .284/.385/.471/.856 with 10 XBH. Over the last month, he’s raised his season slash line to .325/.432/.578/1.010 with 9 HR and 19 total XBH. He’s walked more than he’s struck out this year (29-26) and he plays a fantastic SS. He wasn’t my favorite option coming into this spring but he has absolutely turned it on as this year has progressed. If he keeps this up, I imagine the Royals will value his defense, speed, and baseball IQ to go with an advanced bat.
C Adrian Del Castillo, Miami
Del Castillo has fallen off a bit lately and may be playing his way out of a chance at being taken in the top 10. He’s slashing .293/.393/.442/.835 with just 3 HR and 15 XBH. His BB/K ratio is in good shape with 20 of each, but he certainly hasn’t been the guy that some thought he’d be. He’s been a great player, just not what you want in the top 10. That is, unless you get him under slot value and save some money for your next pick at #43.
CF Jud Fabian, Florida
Fabian had some crazy strikeout numbers early this spring, but he has really come on of late. The tools are obvious, but so was the swing and miss. He’s got his slash line up to .266/.381/.609/.990 with 16 HR and 26 total XBH on the year. He’s got a good shot to stick in CF, which helps his case, but he’d probably have to sign under slot to be in play at #7. While I think it’s unlikely, I certainly wouldn’t rule it out.
C Henry Davis, Louisville
Henry Davis might be hitting the ball too well to be on the board at #7, but you never know. He’s slashing .403/.520/.683/1.203 with 10 HR, 19 total XBH, 10 SB, and a BB/K ratio of 29:15. That is absolutely insane. Add that in with the fact that he’s an outstanding defender behind home plate and I have no idea how he gets past Boston at #4. I’m going to keep listing him because he’s the dream at the moment, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.
RHP Ty Madden, Texas
I think there’s better options for KC at #7 than Madden at the moment. Madden has been very good for Texas this spring, pitching to a 2.21 ERA with 84 K in 69.1 IP as the Longhorns’ Friday night guy, but he lacks a legitimate third pitch and he’s been less dominant in conference play. He’d be a relatively safe pick at #7, but there’s some guys with bigger upside that I’d prefer to take a chance on at the moment. If Madden had a better fastball profile (velo is great, the rest is very meh) I’d probably be more confident here, but for now it’s more “fine” than “awesome.”
LHP Jordan Wicks, K-State
I’m going to keep running Wicks’ name out there until I hear for sure it’s a non-possibility. He’s got a 3.36 ERA on the year, but he’s also got 92 K to just 19 BB in 67 IP as the Friday guy for the Wildcats. His changeup is one of the best pitches in the draft class and if his fastball improves at all he could be a legitimate top-5 prospect in the system once a few guys graduate.
CF Christian Franklin, Arkansas
Franklin is slashing .303/.435/.586/1.021 with 10 HR and 22 total XBH for one of the two best teams in college baseball. He plays a fantastic CF, has 8 SB on the year, and happens to play with Dayton Moore’s son, as well as being a Rockhurst HS grad. There’s a very real chance that Franklin winds up with the Royals on draft day. He has struck out in 24.9% of his PA. which is worrisome, but the tools are loud and you can imagine why KC would be interested at the right price.
RHP Sam Bachman, Miami-Ohio
Bachman has been a little healthier of late, but someone is going to have to feel REALLY good about his medicals for him to be a top-10 pick. He’s got 60 K and a 1.66 ERA in 38 IP this year and has only allowed 16 hits. His fastball hits triple digits with some regularity and his slider is one of the best breaking pitches in the draft. There’s been reports on high-ranking front office officials from KC at his starts, but that shouldn’t be unexpected. Bachman could have a Max Meyer-like rise in the draft if his medicals check out.
CF Sal Frelick, Boston College
Frelick is one of just a few college hitters who has really stood out this spring. He’s hitting .360/.440/.558/.998 with 5 HR and 22 total XBH on the year with 9 SB and a BB/K ratio of 23:24. There’s been a fair amount of buzz surrounding Frelick to KC at #7, with both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline having him there in different mock drafts, so Royals fans should definitely have some idea of who Frelick is before the draft. Could be a relatively safe pick but I don’t know about the ceiling potential for a #7 pick. As always, money could be the difference maker here.
RHP Gunnar Hoglund, Ole Miss
I’m finally coming around on Hoglund a little bit, but he’s still not my favorite option for KC unless he’s cheaper than slot value. He’s got a 2.47 ERA in 62 IP for the Rebels with 96 K and just 16 BB. He’s also only given up 38 hits for the year. His fastball runs into the upper-90’s with regularity and, while the stuff is great, there’s something about the delivery and profile that I just can’t buy all the way into. Regardless of what I think, he’s earned a spot here at least in the conversation.