The Major League Baseball draft begins Monday, and the Royals will select in the first round for the first time since 2015. The club surrendered its first-round pick last year after signing free-agent pitcher Ian Kennedy. With their first pick in the 2016 draft, the Royals selected right-handed pitcher A.J. Puckett from Pepperdine at 67th overall.
Puckett has posted a 3.77 ERA in 11 starts at Class A Wilmington this season. This year, the Royals own the 14th overall pick. The slot value of the selection is $3,727,600.
The Royals will also draft 52nd overall in the second round and 73rd overall as part of the Competitive Balance Round B. The club owns one more pick in the top 100 (90th overall in the third round) before the draft order repeats itself in Rounds 4-40.
So who might the Royals select with their first-round pick? Six days before the draft, here is a look at four projections from around the industry.
Baseball America: Trevor Rogers, LHP, Carlsbad (New Mexico) High School
In a draft projection published May 26, Baseball America’s John Manuel had the Royals selecting Trevor Rogers, a prep left-hander with a high ceiling. Listed at 6 feet 6, 185 pounds, Rogers has touched 95 mph on the radar gun and has a “sweepy 10-to-4 slider,” according to Baseball America’s scouting report. Rated as the 31st-best prospect in the draft class, Rogers is committed to Texas Tech.
“He’s been inconsistent against inferior competition all spring,” Baseball America writes, “essentially dominating with a fastball around 88-90 mph coming in from his low three-quarters slot that evokes Andrew Miller.”
In his latest projection, ESPN’s Keith Law also has the Royals selecting Rogers, noting that they have been linked to “high school arms — Rogers, D.L. Hall and Shane Baz — as well as Jeren Kendall,” an outfielder from Vanderbilt.
MLB.com: Shane Baz, RHP, Concordia Lutheran HS (Tomball, Texas)
In a mock draft from June 1, MLB.com columnist Jonathan Mayo had the Royals going with Shane Baz, a prep right-hander from Tomball, Texas. According to Baseball American, Baz is ranked as the 11th-best prospect in the draft and the top talent in Texas. He’s committed to TCU.
“Most evaluators see him as the second-best prep righty in the class behind (top prospect) Hunter Greene,” Baseball America writes, “but Baz has the ingredients to surpass Greene going forward due to his more potent breaking pitches.”
FanGraphs.com: Jake Burger, 3B, Missouri State
In their latest projection, FanGraphs forecasts the Royals to select Burger, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound native of Chesterfield, Mo. Burger is, according to Baseball America, a “bad-bodied but big-hitting third baseman whose track record of excellent offensive production will be hard for teams to ignore if they are looking for the safety of picking a college hitter.” Burger is the 20th-best prospect in the draft, according to Baseball America.