Opinion

Q&A with draft expert Jonathan Mayo

Jonathan Mayo is MLB.com’s draft and prospect expert, and he will be part of will be part of the MLB Network’s First-Year Player Draft Coverage on Thursday starting at 5 p.m.

He took time to talk with The Star about the Royals and the draft. The Royals hold the eighth pick in the first round.

Question:

What is strength of this year’s draft?

Answer:

(Sighs) There isn’t one? It’s not a great draft class. So if I’m going to pick a strength, it’s probably that there is some depth, even if there isn’t a ton of separation at the top. There’s a good amount of college pitching. There are a couple of guys right at the top, but as you get down toward the end of the first round, into the second round, there’s a good slew of college pitching to look at. Then there’s high school catching, which is sort of an odd thing. But there are three high school catchers who will go in the first round for sure.

Question:

What do you see as the Royals’ greatest need?

Answer:

First thing, this is kind of my go-to line, especially with the first-round pick, you’re not drafting for need. That being said, you could go one of two ways: you could say they traded Wil Myers, so there’s very little in terms of impact bats, especially anything that’s close by. But they also don’t have a whole lot of impact arms who are going to get their quickly. They have (Yordano) Ventura, and Kyle Zimmer will get himself sorted out. They could use another college arm to plug in right behind those guys.

Question:

In the aftermath of losing Myers, Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery in the trade with the Rays, and now that the calendar has reached June, when you look at the Royals’ minor-league system as it stands, is there need that stands out?

Answer:

I don’t think so. They used the strength of their system to make some trades. You’ve got Zimmer, you’ve got Ventura and if you believe John Lamb is going to get back to where he was as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery. That’s kind of it at the top. Then hitting: who knows how long it’s going to take Bubba Starling to figure things out? (Raul) Adalberto Mondesi is really intriguing, so the need for an impact bat is a little bit more. But that being said, that bat may not exist.

Question:

So the question is: who are the Royals going to take with their pick?

Answer:

I’ve heard a million different things. There are three college arms at the top: (Oklahoma’s) Jonathan Gray and (Stanford’s) Mark Appel, almost everyone assumes will be gone. I think if Braden Shipley of Nevada were around at No. 8, they would be very happy, but I don’t know that I see that happening. There are a couple of high school pitchers I’ve heard with them potentially: Trey Ball (of New Castle, Ind.) is one. They’ve looked at a lot of high school outfielders. Austin Meadows (of Grayson, Ga.) could fit the bill. The question is whether they want to go that high of upside with a high school. A lot of it could be depend if some of those guys most people think are going to go in the top six or seven, whether they filter down to where they’re picking. They could decide to go with one of those guys. But everything I’ve heard is they’re looking at pitching.

Question:

Would the Royals consider drafting Ball as an outfielder?

Answer:

Nearly everyone is looking at him as a (left-handed) pitcher. All it takes is for one team to like him as a hitter. I remember a number of years ago, every other team in baseball liked John Van Benschoten as a hitter and the Pirates drafted him as a pitcher. You only need one team. But I think if someone takes Trey Ball in the top 10, it’s because he’s a left-handed pitcher not for his hitting.

Question:

Is there a certain type of player the Royals have drafted under general manager Dayton Moore?

Answer:

You could make an argument that they like high school lefties. If you want to stack it towards Trey Ball at all. Montgomery and Lamb and Dwyer was a college guy but he was a 21-year-old freshman. I don’t know what to call him exactly, but they seem to like the young lefties. They took Zimmer last year. I think he likes guys with good stuff and certain size if possible. Most of those guys are fairly big. He hasn’t drafted any 5-11 guys on the mound. If you’re going to try and find a type, that’s the type.

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