The Royals held five of the first 58 selections in the 2018 MLB first-year player draft that started Monday night. For better or worse, this draft will define what direction the Royals will take as they endeavor to make another World Series run.
They decided to bolster their pitching depth, choosing five collegiate arms. Among their current top 30 prospects as ranked by MLB’s Pipeline, the Royals count 14 pitchers. None of them are counted among baseball’s best prospects by either MLB.com or Baseball America.
Here's a closer look at the pitchers the Royals drafted Monday:
18. Brady Singer, RHP, Florida, junior
A projected top-five pick, Singer slipped into the Royals' hands, likely because of a slow start to his junior campaign. But he solidified himself as Florida's ace this season, posting a 2.27 ERA in 14 starts (95 innings). He struck out a team-high 98 while issuing 19 walks. Batters averaged .188 against him.
Singer is a Golden Spikes Award semifinalist and was chosen Baseball America's college baseball player of the year. Also chosen as the Southeastern Conference's pitcher of the year, he led the SEC with 10 wins and a 2.25 ERA.
Standing 6 feet 5 with a 210-pound frame, he commands a 95-96 mph fastball and throws an above-average slider, according to MLB.com's scouting report.
The slot value for the 18th pick this year is $3,349,300. The Royals, with an MLB-high $12.7 million bonus pool to spend in the first 10 rounds, are in an ideal position to stop Singer from returning to Florida, where he won a national championship last summer.
Three years ago, Singer was drafted 56th overall in the second round out of Eustis High School (Fla.) by the Blue Jays. Back then, he was already 6-5 and he threw a mid-90s fastball. But instead of signing for the slot value of about $1 million, he chose to honor his college commitment, telling SECCountry.com, “It was pretty close, but when it didn’t work out, I wasn’t really upset because I was already moved in, I was already three weeks into school. I adapted quickly and I just kind of got to work. There was no looking back.”
Singer had a 4.95 ERA in 23 appearances, one start, during his freshman season. But upon joining the Gators' starting rotation last year, he became their workhouse. He led the SEC with 126 innings pitched, a mark that ranked third in the country, and 51 strikeouts looking. For the season, he struck out 129 batters.
In two starts at the 2017 College World Series, Singer threw 14 innings and struck out 21 batters, including 12 LSU hitters in the first game of the finals.
33. Jackson Kowar, RHP, Florida, junior
When MLB.com’s 15th-ranked prospect remained on the board in competitive balance round A, the Royals jumped. Kowar, the 6-6, 185-pound teammate of Singer, has already thrown 98 mph this year and his fastball sits in the mid-90s, according to MLB.com’s scouting report.
Pitching behind Singer in Florida’s rotation, Kowar posted a 3.37 ERA in 98 2/3 innings spanning 16 starts. He struck out 96 batters and was chosen to the SEC’s second team.
34. Daniel Lynch, LHP, Virginia, junior
Lynch’s stuff is not as showy as his Florida counterparts’. His fastball hovers in the low 90s and he had a 3.93 ERA in 13 starts. But he struck out 105 over 88 2/3 innings and only issued 24 walks.
40. Kris Bubic, LHP, Stanford, junior
Bubic possesses “one of the best changeups in the class,” according to MLB.com’s scouting report. He pitched off a 90-94 mph fastball and recorded a 2.62 ERA in 15 starts. Batters hit just. 199 off Bubic and struck out 101 times.
58. Jonathan Bowlan, RHP, Memphis, junior
The 6-6, 262-pounder set a school and conference record with an 18-strikeout complete game this season against South Florida. His father, Mark, threw Memphis' only perfect game in 1987.
The draft will resume with rounds 3-10 at noon Tuesday and concludes with rounds 11-40 on Wednesday. Live results for all rounds will be available on MLB.com.