The Kansas City Royals find themselves in an enviable position as they prepare for Thursday's MLB Draft. What the team lacks is also what the organization lacks, and is also what this year's draft crop has the most to offer. This is a hitters' draft, and it could not have come along at a better time for the Royals.
We are talking about an organization whose best hitting prospect is last year's No. 2 pick, Mike Moustakas, who is currently playing in low-A ball. Between Moustakas and the major-league roster, there is not a single, high-level hitting prospect in the Royals' system.
As a result, there has been virtually zero speculation that Dayton Moore, who has acquired pitching, pitching, and more pitching in his reign as Kansas City GM, will opt to draft another arm with the No. 3 overall pick.
Given the lack of impact bats in the system, the Royals can look simply for the best talent, regardless of position. They certainly could, and probably should, entertain the idea of opting for a college player who could impact the major league roster in short order, but Moore generally leans to high school talent.
That is really the one variable that will affect not only the third overall pick, but also the three other early picks held by Kansas City.
Recent talks indicate that the Rays are leaning towards high-school shortstop Tim Beckham, and the Pirates are almost certain to take Pedro Alvarez at No. 2 overall.
Using those projections as a starting point, the Royals choice at No. 3 is probably going to come down to Florida State catcher Buster Posey or American Heritage High's first baseman Eric Hosmer.
Hosmer is a Scott Boras client, but the Royals have drafted AND signed Boras's clients in the first round of the last two drafts. He may be the premier power bat in this draft, but at least two years away from sniffing the majors.
Posey, on the other hand, is a polished defensive catcher with three years of major college experience, who could very conceivably be in the majors as early as 2009. Whichever player is chosen will immediately become the second best hitting-prospect in the Royals' system.
With their supplemental pick in the first round, No. 36 overall, look for the Royals to again go for a bat. Arizona State first baseman Ike Davis, if still available, is a possibility here if the Royals do not opt for Hosmer earlier in this round.
A more likely choice is Canadian Brett Lawrie, who doubled off of two members of the current Kansas City rotation this spring when the Canadian Junior National Team played the Royals' extended spring team. Lawrie might be a catcher or he might be a middle infielder. He just might be the next Craig Biggio; that gets this Royals fans a little excited.
Pick No. 49 seems to be a lock for yet another hitter. The wild card might be injured pitcher Tanner Scheppers, who could conceivably still be available. Prior to suffering a stress fracture in his pitching shoulder, Scheppers was likely a top-fifteen pick. The potential (2008's Joba Chamberlain perhaps?) might be too much for the Royals to pass up. A more likely possibility is high-school outfielder Issac Galloway, who oozes with the coveted 'projectablility'.
The Royals can land another 'Top-100' talent with the third pick in third round, No. 80 overall. Oklahoma State's Jordy Mercer might still be around, and he is rated as the third best shortstop in the draft, but it is hard to fathom Dayton Moore and his staff picking four hitters in a row.
Their love of pitching simply won't allow them to do so. As such, look for the Royals to opt for Purdue's Josh Lindblom or Mississippi's Cody Satterwhite, both of whom project as power relievers. A high school pitcher like Zeke Spruill out of Marietta, Georgia is a possibility here, too.
Without a doubt, Kansas City will come away from the draft with far more offensive potential in their system than they currently have. After several years of acquiring and stockpiling pitchers, the Royals simply must address their offensive deficiencies this year. With the major league team struggling to score runs, Kansas City would also be wise to draft players who can reach the majors quickly.
Luckily for Dayton Moore and the Royals, this is a good year to be looking for offense.