Opinion: Top 5 Options for Royals in 2021 Draft

Here we are once again coming up on the annual Major league Baseball amateur draft. The draft will be 20 rounds this year, while it has also been moved back to July so the collegiate players can be finished with their seasons and prepare for the draft. The Royals sit at pick number 7 this year and the draft is exceptionally deep because of the shortened one last year. Just a quick note, there may be some players that you might wonder why I did not have as options for the Royals. This is because I did not think that they would fall to the Royals at pick 7, for example, Jordan Lawlar, Jack Leiter, etc.

Like last year, I will be giving grades and comments from a scout’s point of view. Every player is ranked from a 20-80 scale with 20 being the lowest and 80 the highest. Each player will have a current and projected grade. Each current grade is measuring how a player would be in Major League Baseball right now, so a high school player will have lower grades in aspects like hitting.

For hitters I will be grading their 5 tools:

  • Hitting
  • Power
  • Fielding
  • Speed
  • Arm

For pitchers I will be basing grades off their pitches:

  • Velocity
  • Movement
  • Control

NAME   Brady House

School: Winder-Barrow (High school, Georgia)                                                         Position: SS

Academic Class: Senior                                                                                 

Height: 6’3                        Weight: 210                      Bat: R    Throw: R

Hit Mechanics: Smooth powerful swing with loose, quick hands. Very subtle shift with lower half which creates good leverage and drives the ball with authority to all fields.

Hitting 25 55Has had a lot of success with his bat throughout HS career. Very easy swing with good loft and makes a lot of loud contact. Hitting is biggest question mark.
Power 55 60 Very raw power. Best power in the draft for a prep infielder.
Fielding 45 55Very good fielder and moves well to the ball for his size. Has soft hands and he fields the ball out in front. Glove allows him to move around the diamond.
Arm 70 70 Incredible arm. Can make throws from anywhere on the diamond, up to 96 on the mound that translates well to the infield. Nice accuracy with arm as well.
Speed 50 50 Above average speed for his frame. Runs a 7.06 sixty-yard dash.

Summary: House was a candidate to be a top-three pick before the spring began but is a case of having too much film out on him. This means that he has been so good for so long that there isn’t anything he has improved on because there isn’t anything he needs to improve on at the high school level. He is dripping with tools, the bat projects well at the next level, his power is raw and has the potential to be a 30-home run type of hitter. This prep short stop moves very well, even with his 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame. It is because of this size that some say he may need to move to third base but if he keeps his agility then the glove + arm plays at short. I know the Royals have been big on arms in the last few drafts but if Brady House falls to the Royals at #7, even if Rocker is available, I would choose the everyday player over the pitcher. Oh, and yes, he will most likely move to third if the Royals take him, don’t worry I didn’t forget about Bobby Witt Jr.

NAME   Kumar Rocker

School: Vanderbilt University                                                 Position: RHP

Academic Class: COVID Sophomore                                                                             

Height: 6’5                        Weight: 245                      Bat: R    Throw: R

Arm angle: High three-quarter

FB 55 60 Fastball sits 93-95 mph. Plays in the upper and lower part of the zone, Rocker locates it well to any part of the plate. Uses four-seam to glove-side and two-seam to arm-side.
SL60 70Mid-80s slider is one of the best pitches in college baseball. Throws pitch at will, can locate to either part of the plate and gets hitters to swing-and-miss at it constantly. Definitely the pitch that will get him into the show. 
CB 40 50 Low-80s curveball that he does not throw a lot. Uses this pitch to mostly get ahead in counts but not as a put-away pitch. May need to throw this pitch more at the next level so hitters don’t sit on slider. 

Summary: Rocker was the number one arm before the spring but with the rise of his teammate Jack Leiter he has fallen some on the boards. Do not let this fool you, it’s not because of a lack of performance from Rocker, it is because of the dominance of Leiter. This right-hander doesn’t have much more room to grow with his frame, but he will get more efficient with his pitches and will learn how to pitch against professional hitters. Rocker gets down the mound well, his delivery isn’t high effort which profiles very well in the future because it shows that his velocity is easy. The Vanderbilt Commodore has been in a lot of big game situations in his career, so he is used to the spotlight. The Royals love their college arms so don’t be surprised if Rocker is on the board, along with another name like Jackson Jobe, they go with Rocker.

NAME   Jackson Jobe

School: Heritage Hall (HS)                                                       Position: RHP

Academic Class: Senior

Height: 6’2                        Weight: 190                      Bat: R    Throw: R

Arm angle: High three-quarter

FB 60 70 Fastball sits 93-96 mph and touches 98 mph. Natural arm-side run.
SL55 70Slider has an extremely high spin rate (3100 RPM). Very sharp/late break, hitters take pitch when it starts at their front hip and whiff when it is started in the middle of the plate. 
CH 45 55 Changeup is still young, but Jobe is developing it more every day. Fading movement that will compliment his fastball nicely    

Summary: Jobe is the top prep arm in this draft. The right-hander has only been pitching for a couple years but there is no denying his stuff is electric. The fact that he has been dominant so far in his young pitching career intrigues scouts because as he learns how to pitch, he should only get better. Jobe also has some of the highest spin rates in the draft. This is important because the higher the spin on a pitch the harder it is to hit. A high spin rate + a high velocity makes Jobe a pitcher with some of the highest upside in the draft. Another appealing aspect is that Jobe is a great athlete. Jobe could play at big D-1 schools as a middle infielder, but his arm is what will get him at the top of the draft.

NAME   Kahlil Watson

School: Wake Forest (High school, North Carolina)                                                   Position: SS

Academic Class: Senior                                                                                 

Height: 5’11                        Weight: 168                      Bat: L    Throw: R

Hit Mechanics: Quick hands with pop that will increase as he matures. Finds barrels with great bat-to-ball skills.  Steep swing that provides loft on pitches, good separation with hands and explosive hips.

Hitting 30 55Bat speed is biggest upside for Watson. Takes aggressive swings with intent of hitting ball hard all the time.
Power 30 55 Because of bat speed, has potential for Francisco Lindor like pop at next level. Most intriguing tool because of the position he plays and his size.  
Fielding 45 55Average to above average fielder, will stick at shortstop as long as he can but could possibly end up at second base.
Arm 55 55Nice arm, can make all the throws he needs to from different spots on the diamond.  
Speed 60 60 Quick runner and excels at stealing bases. Teams should be on alert when he is on the bags.

Summary: Watson has some of the biggest potential in the draft. The shortstop is above average at all five tools with his power and speed being his best. Watson has a projectable frame and plays the game with a lot of confidence. His bat speed is incredible and is what intrigues me the most because bat speed = more power. Watson will make all the plays at short stop and doesn’t flash anything extremely exceptional but lets his bat speak the most. The North Carolina native can make throws from anywhere on the diamond and has no problem making plays in the hole. If Watson gets on base don’t be surprised if he swipes a bag, he has a good feel for when to steal. The one concern for Watson is seeing spin at the next level. He hasn’t seen a ton of great off-speed pitches in his high school career so he will need to adjust to be successful. One of the biggest potential prep bats and all five tools should play at the next level.

NAME   Jordan Wicks

School: Kansas State                                                   Position: LHP

Academic Class: COVID Sophomore

Height: 6’3                        Weight: 220                      Bat: L    Throw: L

Arm angle: High three-quarter

FB 45 50 Fastball sits 92-94 mph with carry up in the zone.
SL40 50Slider has two-plane break, more of a pitch he uses to give another look to hitters. 
CH 60 65The best changeup in the class. Extreme depth to pitch, can get swing and miss and early outs with it.   

Summary: Jordan Wicks is a very safe pick and would be one that the Royals could consider because of his local ties. Wicks would be an under-slot pick and the money they save could be used later in the draft on other talented players. Wicks biggest upside pitch is his changeup and he works off of it. The pitch has fading depth and is the best changeup in the draft. The left-hander has a low-effort delivery and his mechanics are repeatable, so there wouldn’t be much to fix or improve on. Wicks locates his pitches very well and throws a lot of strikes which allows him to work later into games. The Kansas State product is one of the more impact ready arms in the draft but has a lower upside. Wicks needs to develop the slider more to give him a chance to be a starter in the future. If the left-hander can develop a legitimate third or even fourth pitch, then there is a chance he can be a frontline starter. If the Royals top choices have already been taken, then Wicks could be a surprise pick that allows them more flexibility later in the draft.

Photo Credits: George Walker IV, Tennessean.com

5 thoughts on “Opinion: Top 5 Options for Royals in 2021 Draft

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