Monday, June 13, 2011

Talent Infusion

There were plenty of ways in which the selection of Derek "Bubba" Starling would have been the wrong one last Monday. But the way the deck fell, the Royals made the only choice that made sense, and that was to take the best position player left on the board. The fact that he grew up 30 minutes from Kaufman Stadium is just a bonus.

Bubba Starling is everything you want in a prospect. He has power, speed, and a strong throwing arm. He's performed well in high school showcases around the country. He's more than just a raw athlete trying to play baseball. This isn't to say he's without risk -- by definition every prospect is. But all things considered, it's hard to disagree with this pick. He won't sign until late in the day on August 15, which sucks, but that is the nature of almost all top picks these days.

With their next five picks, the Royals took five more players 19 or younger. This is what the Royals prefer to do -- raise prospects themselves to avoid the bad habits and injury risk of going to college.

In the second round, the Royals selected catcher Cam Gallagher from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Gallagher comes from a baseball background, his father played pro ball and his brother plays in the Dodgers system. He was considered a defense first catcher coming into the year, before his bat took a big step forward this year, which in turn took his draft stock way up with it. It's not at all surprising that the Royals grabbed a catcher this early in the draft with how thin the position is not just in the Royals system, but across baseball as a whole. Despite being a high school player, Gallagher should be a quick sign.

In the next two rounds, KC grabbed two high school pitchers that don't fit the prototype they have established the past few years. Both pitches stand around six feet tall, but that doesn't mean they don't have live arms. Bryan Brickhouse, from Texas, throws hard and has an excellent breaking ball, but will need to time to wiggle out issues with control and become a "pitcher." Smith is more polished, but doesn't have quite the same velocity, though he's touched 94 so the arm strength is there. What is common between these two is they both have strong commitments to high profile programs, North Carolina and Florida respectively, so they won't be quick signs.

In the fifth round, the Royals grabbed an infielder from Texas, Pat Leonard. His high school coach was a pretty good player, some guy named Craig Biggio. Leonard has big power from the right side but will need to move off shortstop as a pro, likely third base or left field.

Unlike last year with guys like Christian Colon and Kevin Chapman, this is not a class that will provide immediate dividends. But it certainly has a lot of upside, something that will be worth the wait.

3 comments:

hawkinscm said...

We can still hope for Bubba to sign slightly earlier based on the good rapport the Royals have with Boras. He's not going to betray his client, but both parties know it's worthwhile to make sure Bubba starts playing soon.

Nathan said...

This is a fun time of the season. We are still very much in the race and are playing great competitive baseball.

Nobody knows with our current rotation how long this will last, but I still have full confidence in our bullpen and I really like our offense. It wont be much longer before Cain comes up and maybe even Dyson again. Giovatella is killing the ball in AAA and hes a definite upgrade over Getz.

We need more stability in the rotation and I have a feeling Montgomery will be a HUGE part to that when he gets the call in about a month... We should be very pleased in mid-June being in the chase and still have TONS of upside on the horizon!

Jeff Parker said...

They are in a rare position of being able to replace veterans with rookies in the midst of a pennant race and be better for it. But yeah, it all comes down to the rotation.