Super Regionals are over and we have the field set for the College World Series in Omaha. It’s been a wild college baseball playoff and we have had the opportunity to see a lot of 2022 MLB Draft talent compete on some of the biggest stages. Along with that, the Cape Cod League has kicked off which is also loaded with 2022 MLB Draft talent. Alex has done a great job covering the potential top 15 of the draft, some college prospects to watch for the Royals at #9, and players who could be good under-slot options for Kansas City at #9. Here are what some recent mocks have the Royals taking at #9:
Baseball America: Henry Bolte, OF Palo Alto HS (Palo Alto, CA)
ESPN: Gavin Cross, OF Virginia Tech
Jim Callis: Justin Crawford, OF Bishop Gorman HS (Las Vegas, NV)
Jonathan Mayo: Cam Collier, 3B Chipola Junior College
Prospects Live: Jacob Berry, 1B/OF Louisiana State
If you can’t tell, many are in agreement that the Royals should go a high upside or polished college bat. We know the Royals have had success drafting pitchers and have gone pitching heavy in the last few drafts. A bat would almost make too much sense at 1.9. After the #9 overall pick, the Royals have three more top 100 picks with #35 (Competitive Balance), #49 (Round 2), and #87 (Round 3). I’ll dive into ten names briefly that are in the top 100 or near top 100 prospects that might be interesting in the few rounds following 1.9
Reggie Crawford, LHP UCONN
Crawford was electric and exciting before he had the unfortunate news of his Tommy John surgery. His velocity on the mound has been clocked as high as 101 mph. The downside is that Crawford only hasn’t even thrown ten innings on the mound at the college level. He pairs his fastball with a wipe out slider. Both of his pitches have plus grades. You don’t see many lefties with high octane stuff like he has. It doesn’t end there. Crawford was a two way guy who hit thirteen home runs with 62 RBI in his second season with UCONN. He has plus raw power from the left side and he could have the potential to be a two-way guy if he can remain healthy. The lack of innings may have teams shying away from Crawford, but it is still hard to overlook the fact that he is one of the most exciting talents in the MLB Draft.
Clark Elliott, OF Michigan
Line drives for days is what you are going to get from Clark Elliott. He has a great approach at the plate and uses his good feel for the strike zone to draw a lot of walks. He walked nearly as much as he struck out this year. His hit tool was also on full display in the Cape Cod League as well. There are some questions in terms of how much power he develops, but his hit tool should have teams interested to see if he can develop average power. He carries some decent speed with him and profiles to be a centerfielder even though he can play all over the outfield. His quickness and range should help him stick in center. If the Royals are looking to address their lack of a centerfield prospect, Elliott could be a nice flier to see if he develops enough power to produce above-average production.
Luke Gold, 2B Boston College
Man, does Luke Gold get me excited. The guy just does a bit of everything right from the offensive side. You are looking at above-average tools across the board on the offensive side. People will be drafting Gold because of his bat. He has a solid approach at the plate and an amazing feel for the strike zone. He makes some loud contact but most of his power is gap power. He played second base for the Golden Eagles this year and profiles to be about an average second baseman. He has good enough instincts and hands to be serviceable at 2B. He has a strong arm so there is a chance that teams might want to take a shot with him at third. There may be some questions around his throwing accuracy so that remains to be seen. Either way, if you want a bat that torched tough ACC pitching, Gold is your guy. He could be a really fun pick in the third round for the Royals, but there is a chance a team takes him higher.
Levi Huesman, LHP Hanover High School (Hanover, Virginia)
We all know the Royals love a good pitching prospect, let alone a prep pitching prospect. Huesman is committed to Coastal Carolina for college and ranks just outside the top 100 on MLB Pipeline. He could be someone the Royals are interested in if they decide to go underslot again at 1.9. He has been able to get his fastball up to 96 mph, but sits mostly in the low-to-mid 90s. He has an above-average secondary in his slider and a changeup that needs some work. He has a lot of projectability for a high-school left hander which the Royals always like. He does a decent job at pounding the strike zone and has a nice repeatable delivery. Teams will take Huesman based on his upside more than anything.
Tyler Locklear, 1B Virginia Commonwealth University
You like the long ball? Tyler Locklear is your man. 16 home runs in his sophomore season. Nine home runs in 34 games in the tough Cape Cod League. 20 home runs this year. He absolutely mashes baseballs with high exit velocities. He has plus-plus raw power from the right side and has not been afraid to show it. Not only that, he makes a TON of contact. Locklear walked 47 times and struck out only 25 times this year. That could be very well due to mediocre pitching in the Atlantic-10 conference, but that still shouldn’t be overlooked. He struggles a bit with bat speed and a lot of his high exit velos come from his raw strength. He saw his strikeout rate increase a bit when he played in the Cape, but as you saw early, the power was still there. The ball is just disgustingly loud off his bat. Just take a listen for yourself.
Brycen Mautz, LHP San Diego
92-94 mph fastball guy that has topped out around 97-97 mph. His slider is his go to strikeout pitch and it grades above-average. His changeup has been effective against righty bats. He will likely be an arm taken in the 2nd or 3rd round. The massive thing for Mautz was cutting his walk rate. This has led to most of his success. He’s got enough stuff and projection to be a potential bottom of the rotation type guy.
Ivan Melendez, 1B Texas
I think I fell in love with Melendez watching him hit baseballs in the regional and super regional this year. And you’re in luck! You can continue to watch Melendez hit balls to the moon in the College World Series. He has an insane 32 home runs with 94 RBI so far this year. That is on top of a .394/.516/.888 slashline. There are plenty of question to where Melendez will play on the field, but everyone knows he can rake. He was taken by the Miami Marlins in the 16th round last year but declined to sign since he didn’t get the money he was expecting. He definitely made the right choice as he has put up Triple Crown numbers as a junior. He profiles as a first baseman only type, but teams aren’t going to overlook the production with the bat. The Royals seem to lack a prototypical slugger and Melendez could be a guy who is fast tracked to the big leagues even with some of the swing and miss concerns.
Nate Savino, LHP Virginia
Savino has definitely started to turn heads recently. My guy Tyler Jennings at Prospects Live was on the case when he saw Savino opening the game with a mid-90s fastball with sinking life to it. He had been sitting low-90s previously. This is huge for his development if he can sustain this velocity as he has two solid pitches to go with it. If the change up and slider have gained velocity as well, they certainly start to push the needle as being plus pitches. There is a lot of potential for Savino to be a back end start type. The Royals have liked to take arms from Virginia as they already have Daniel Lynch and Noah Murdock. Shane Panzini had also committed to UVA. This could be a potential 3rd through 5th round pick for the Royals if they have really fallen in love with his recent developments. Lots of projection left in his 6’3, 210lb frame.
Tanner Schobel, SS Virginia Tech
Schobel fell beneath the shadows of Gavin Cross a bit. He has average-to-above average tools across the board. He really tapped into his power this year hitting 19 home runs and driving in 74. He has a really good hit tool, so if that power development is legit, he could really take his game to the next level. He has a great approach at the plate and can get on base. His grades both offensively and defensively are all similar to Nick Loftin. He fits more as a second baseman but could pan out to be more of a super-utility type guy. He fits the profile of a bat that the Royals tend to like. He doesn’t have enough speed to really blow you away on the base paths either.
Max Wagner, 3B Clemson
Raw power and massive arm strength sums up Clemson’s Max Wagner. The 20-year-old hit 27 bombs this year while driviing in 76 for the Tigers. Similar to Locklear, he creates most of power through his strength rather than his bat speed. He has some swing and miss to his profile, but did show off some of the same power in the Northwoods wood bat collegiate summer league. He has brought his strikeout rate down to some more suitable levels and he walks enough to counterbalance that. There are some questions about where he might play defensively, but his arm gives him the profile of a third baseman. He could improve his reaction time at third, but is able to make up for it with his range and solid arm.