The 2o23 MLB Draft took place this past weekend, and with many great prospects on the board teams struggling to get their footing for the future had plenty to choose from as far as who could be their next superstar. One of those teams desperately searching for a light to guide the future was our very own Kansas City Royals. The problem is, the Royals don't need a spark of light to guide them, they need the whole dang Sun to help them out in finding their direction. While the Royals do have some promising talent on the roster and in the farm system already, the development has been severely lacking, which is why a lot of people were confused as to why JJ Piccolo stated that the Royals would be picking based on high ceiling rather than MLB readiness. However, the perplexed attitudes of many a Royals fan were not taken into account with the first few picks of this year's draft for the Royals.
Right out of the gate, the Royals selected high school prep catcher Blake Mitchell over catcher (and an arguably more "ready" prospect considering he's a college baseball player) Kyle Teel. With the next pick they had, the Royals selected Blake Wolters, a pitcher from Mahomet-Seymour High School in Illinois. Even after that though, the Royals still did not let the trend of selecting high school prep player die. The Royals selected prep pitcher Hiro Wyatt with their 3rd pick, rounding out the trio of high school players selected. They were not kidding when they said their focus was upside and ceiling. After Wyatt, the trend began to shift towards college players who have MLB readiness experience, with Vandy pitcher Hunter Owen, Bryant pitcher Coleman Picard, Oral Roberts pitcher Jacob Widener, Missouri State outfielder Spencer Nivens, Texas A&M infielder Trevor Werner, Southern Miss shortstop Dustin Dickerson, and finally Lafayette/Wake Forest shortstop Justin Johnson (Apparently the Royals really like alliteration with their shortstops...)
There's a lot of good things to be said about the day one picks of this class. Yeah, the top picks will take some time to develop until they're MLB ready but could become great players if developed right. Blake Mitchell was starting catcher for the USA Baseball U-19 squad and has received high praise as being a never-before-seen talent by many scouts in both fielding and hitting. He can also pitch, which may come in handy. Blake Wolters has lots of traits that align with some of today's best Major League pitchers and has experience on the national stage, as well as being one of the top prep pitchers in the country. Finally, Hiro Wyatt is a versatile player that can play multiple positions, was the top high school prospect in Connecticut, and had an astounding 0.67 ERA with 90 strikeouts this past season. The college guys also impressed too throughout last season and beyond, Hunter Owen was a successful starter for a successful Vanderbilt squad, Nivens is a great local guy and could provide some consistency to the outfield, Werner will help bolster a struggling infield, and the Royals may have found their long-term shortstop solution in either Dickerson or Johnson (Let's face it, Bobby Witt, Jr. needs to move back to third)
Look, I know I was on board with ceiling being a major focus of this year's draft. With how the Royals are doing this year it's hard to see them being any good any time soon, and with that there's time to develop players into program guys that can eventually become superstars when the time is right. That or trade them for good capital if they don't fit the mold. HOWEVER, this means the farm system has to become better and the Royals front office has to be more proactive in trading players that they do not see a long-term future with while they're hot. Development and trading don't matter if done poorly, while we can hoot and holler all we want about how good or bad of prospects the Royals bring in, none of it matters until there's progress being made in regard to the on the field product. If no positive change and improvement is made by the front office and management regarding these aspects, expect dud seasons for the foreseeable future. John Sherman and JJ Piccolo are the men responsible, and they must act, otherwise this Royals team will only get worse/stay the same, which doesn't bode well for both on the field and off the field future planning. Do the right thing, John and JJ.
Burn Notice: 9/10 Could this be the sun-sized guiding light the Royals need to get back on track?