The Royals continued a trend on the second day of the 2018 MLB first-year player draft, drafting seven more college players. The Royals picked five college junior pitchers on day one.
Here is a brief look at the players they selected in rounds 3-10 on Tuesday, including their first high school player chosen in this year's draft.
Third round: Kyle Isbel, OF, UNLV, junior
A versatile center-fielder, Isbel tapped into some power at UNLV this spring and helped the Rebels open the season 20-3 before struggling in conference play in the Mountain West. His 14 home runs — which came one year after he clubbed six — were second on the team, but he led the Rebels with a .643 slugging percentage in 59 games. He batted .357 with 56 RBIs.
Isbel was a Cape Cod League All-Star last summer, when he logged some time at second base. He spent his freshman season playing third base for UNLV.
“He could have average power when all is said and done,” MLB.com’s scouting report said. “Isbel has good speed on the basepaths and in center field.”
Baseball America reports that “some evaluators believe he would profile better at second base, where he played early in his career. Isbel has a hard-nosed approach to the game and that helps his mostly average tools play up.”
It’s possible the Royals have found the next version of Whit Merrifield, though with a little less power expected from his 5-foot-11, 190-pound frame.
Fourth round: Eric Cole, OF, Arkansas, junior
For their seventh straight pick, the Royals took a player out of college. They went with Cole, a switch-hitting outfielder out of Arkansas who batted .328 with 13 homers and 47 RBIs in 60 games for the Razorbacks.
Undrafted out of Southlake Carroll (Texas) High School, he spent his first two seasons at Arkansas batting just .276 with five homers. But this season, Cole recorded 11 games with three or more hits and helped Arkansas reach the super regionals for the first time since 2015.
“Cole is equally adept from both sides of the plate,” MLB.com says of the 5-11, 170-pound Cole. “He has a history of making consistent contact and has gotten stronger.”
Fifth round: Austin Cox, LHP, Mercer, junior
The Royals chose a sixth college pitcher with their eighth pick of the draft. In 17 starts for the Southern Conference college, Cox posted a 4.52 ERA. He racked up 124 strikeouts while walking 43 batters.
His 12.8 strikeouts per nine innings ranked second among Division I left-handers.
Cox, 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds, is a graduate of First Presbyterian Day School, the same high school from which Royals prospect Richard Lovelady hails.
Sixth round: Zach Haake, RHP, Kentucky, junior
Already registering 97 mph while throwing a plus-grade slider, scouts project Haake as a bullpen arm. According to Baseball America, he often struggled his second time through a batting order, causing an inflated 8.47 ERA. Of his 15 appearances, six were starts.
Haake struck out 36 batters in 34 innings, but also issued 22 walks and allowed a .290 batting average.
“He's most likely a power reliever in pro ball, but with three pitches, there's still plenty of reasons to dream,” Baseball America states.
Prior to joining the Wildcats for his junior season, the Belleville, Ill., native made just 11 appearances at Arkansas State as a freshman, then went 8-1 with a 2.52 ERA at John A. Logan College (Ill.) as a sophomore transfer.
Seventh round: Tyler Gray, RHP, Central Arkansas, senior
Gray was a four-year member of Central Arkansas’ pitched staff. He posted a career 3.38 ERA in 61 games, 33 of which were starts.
As a senior, he pitched exclusively out of the rotation. He had a 3.32 ERA in 87 2/3 innings, struck out 116 and walked 31.
Eighth round: Jackson Lueck, OF, Florida State, junior
The switch-hitter batted .245/.364/.476 and led the Seminoles with 15 homers this season, a career-high. He was the ACC Tournament MVP the season before.
Ninth round: Kevon Jackson, CF, Queen Creek (Ariz.) HS
Jackson, 17, finished second in the AIA Division II 100-meter championship in 10.63 seconds. 5-foot-9, 180-pound right-handed hitter batted .364/.457/.575 with two home runs, five doubles and five triples in 29 games this year. He stole 24 bases in 29 attempts.
10th round: Austin Lambright, LHP, Central Oklahoma, senior
Lambright, 6-3 and 205, missed 2016 after Tommy John surgery. He struck out 52 in 43 1/3 innings this season, mostly as a reliever. Threw a team-high nine wild pitches, down from 21 the season before with Abilene Christian, where he posted a team-high 65 strikeouts in 57 innings.
His twin brother, Brandon, was drafted by the Rockies out of Abilene Christian in the 27th round last year.