Kansas City Royals Mock Draft: Last Minute Picks and Predictions
The Kansas City Royals will enter the 2014 first-year player draft in an unfamiliar position for them. Their first pick of the draft will come as the 17th pick overall. The Royals have picked lower than eighth just once in the last nine years, according to Dick Kaegel of MLB.com. That pick, which was used to select Aaron Crow, came as the No. 12 choice in 2009.
It creates a different strategy for general manager Dayton Moore. He will have to be ready to adjust quickly before that first pick, as selections before him could greatly impact who the team targets. Who the team may target seems to be anyone's guess.
The team can stick with their tendencies and draft pitching early on. That tendency is not always set in stone and they have targeted hitting. The current makeup of the team would suggest that a high-value hitter would not be unwelcome. Of course, the team can always take the path of least resistance and simply draft the best player available at the time, regardless of position.
There are three clear-cut possibilities for the Royals that fit into those three strategies.
Grant Holmes May Be the Pitcher of Choice
Grant Holmes may be the best pitcher available by the time the Royals pick in the first round. That said, the team could do much worse than Holmes as a first-round pick.
If the Royals decide that pitching should be a priority, Holmes will be an intriguing option. A powerful right-hander out of Conway High School in South Carolina, Holmes touches the mid-90s with his fastball. In addition, many scouts feel his curveball is his best pitch and he already has a changeup that is judged to be average to above-average depending on who you talk to.
It is not often that a high school pitcher comes to the draft with three good pitches. His command of his curveball and changeup will make him a very attractive option to many teams in the draft. If he remains available at the 17th pick, the Royals may not be able to resist spending their pick on him.
Michael Conforto Brings a Big Bat to the Draft
Michael Conforto matches up with the Royals as the best player available for their slot. The Royals are set to pick 17th overall and, according to MLB.com's predraft rankings, Conforto is the 17th-best prospect available in the draft.
Conforto, an outfielder from Oregon State, projects as the type of player the Royals would find interesting. He is a junior in college, making him much more refined and closer to the major league level. He projects as a left-handed power hitter. He has shown patience and a willingness to draw a walk if he's not getting much to hit.
He is not without his drawbacks, however. He does tend to strike out frequently. For every offensive compliment Conforto draws, he has a comment about his poor defense. He is not fast and it shows in his range in the outfield. His arm is also below average.
The Royals could take Conforto to boost their lineup and sacrifice some defense in the process. He would likely find himself in the majors sooner than most hitters who will be available when the Royals pick. Ultimately, he could be the hitter that the team wanted Billy Butler to be.
Derek Fisher Is the Pure Hitter the Royals Need
The Royals could find themselves in place to pick up Derek Fisher from Virginia. Another college junior, Fisher does not project to be as ready for the major leagues as many others at his age.
Fisher is a bit of a complex case that the Royals may see as a worthy gamble. His approach and abilities suggest that he could be a superstar player in the right organization. At the same time, those abilities have not currently translated to the on-field success many have hoped for.
Fisher has a high ceiling that projects him to be a good hitter and an average defender. If he is willing to be coached and works hard, his defense could be better than average. The questions surround his bat and whether or not it will develop into the power bat many teams want Fisher to be.
Ultimately, Fisher is the type of player the Royals have taken a gamble on in the past and they may be tempted to do so again. Whether he is the next slugger or the next project who doesn't work out has yet to be seen.
Hitting or Pitching Will Be the Biggest Decision for Dayton Moore
Ultimately, the Royals will need to decide if they need hitting or pitching more. Depending on who is available when the team picks, that decision may be made easier.
The team has multiple picks early on and can play around with the idea of a player still being on the board when they pick later in the round. That is a risky strategy to get involved in.
The first pick for the Royals will come as the 17th of the draft. Who the team takes at that position will set the tone for the draft for Kansas City in 2014.