Members of the Royals’ front office and scouting staff have spent months on the road scouring the country for prospects who might help improve the organization’s 29th-ranked farm system.
Beginning Monday night, the Royals will start the three-day process of selecting those reinforcements in this year's first-year player draft. Thanks to the free-agent departures of Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain, the Royals have five of the first 60 picks, all of which will be chosen on the first day of the draft, and an MLB-best $12.7 million bonus pool to spend in the first 10 rounds.
The pressure for the Royals to replenish their stocks and build a new championship team is on.
Although they have the most picks in the top 40 they’ve ever possessed during general manager Dayton Moore’s leadership, the Royals aren’t going to approach this draft any differently.
“We’re trying to keep it simple,” Moore told The Star in April. “Trying to keep it down to who do you want on your team. I want people on our team that can help us win games and are good people.”
The Royals have struggled with the former. Of their last six first-round picks, two — Bubba Starling (2011) and Kyle Zimmer (2012) — seem nowhere close to making contributions on the major-league level, and one took a year off from baseball (Ashe Russell).
All along, this 2018 draft has been thought of as a crossroads: Fail, and the Royals’ attempt to return to championship form will be set back at least another year. Succeed, and the whispers of 2021 being the Royals’ next competitive season — when prospects Nick Pratto, MJ Melendez, Seuly Matias, Khalil Lee and myriad others are estimated to arrive in the major leagues — might gain some credence.
That said, it’s always 50-50 when it comes to draft picks. Only time in the minor leagues will prove if the gamble paid off.
"Players get exposed for the good and the bad," Moore said. "No matter how much money you gave them or how much money they didn’t get. They get a chance to play and the game is the ultimate evaluator. You can’t hide it. We can’t hide it and say a player is something he’s not. Everybody knows. We can try to look into the future and project, but it’s hard to do."
Within the first 100 picks: The Royals will pick 18th, 33rd, 34th, 40th, 58th and 94th overall.
The latest mock drafts have the Royals using their first pick to select either North Carolina high school outfielder Jordyn Adams (MLB.com), Florida high school infielder Triston Casas (Bleacher Report), Florida high school outfielder Connor Scott (CBS Sports) or Indiana high school outfielder Nick Schnell (Fangraphs).
It’s moot to predict which way the 17 teams before the Royals will go. Just keep this in mind: The Royals need starting-pitching depth. They also need speedy outfielders who can cover the roomy confines of Kauffman Stadium.
How to watch: MLB Network and MLB.com will air the first round and competitive balance round A beginning Monday at 6 p.m. MLB.com will continue to carry the broadcast from the second round through the 78th pick, with MLB Network providing live look-ins as the first day of the draft goes on.
The draft will resume with rounds 3-10 on Tuesday at 12 p.m. Selections in the final 30 rounds of the draft will begin Wednesday at 11 a.m. Live results for all rounds will be available on MLB.com.