We are closing in on what has become every Royals fan's favorite time of the year, the major league draft. Every year since 2004 KC seems to be fairly out of the race by this time and fans need something to bring us hope again that the 70's and 80's just aren't that far away again so MLB rolls out the youngsters for us to dream. This season’s top of the draft is said to be weaker than past drafts but we really don't know if that is quite true yet or not and won't know for at least 5 years. So who are the candidates for the Royals pick at #4?
There are many qualified candidates but the mockers, Keith Law, Jonathan Mayo, Baseball America staff and Andy Seiler have narrowed the list down to 3.
Manny Machado- I hitched my wagon to Machado very early in this process reading about him and falling in love with him back in December. At the time Baseball America had him as the #11 overall talents in the draft and while some might have considered it a reach I thought outside Harper he had the highest ceiling as well as having a good overall toolset to work with. That's all changed now as everyone is on his bandwagon and Machado seems to have possibly moved up to the #2 overall spot where the Pittsburgh Pirates are drafting so it's a 50/50 at best whether he'll be there for the Royals at #4. If he is it seems like a no brainer to me for an organization lacking with good hitters let alone shortstop talent.
Yasmani Grandal C- Grandal is a switch hitting catcher from the U. Grandal has been a smooth defender since his high school days when many teams viewed him as a late first round or early second round prospect. Grandal can catch it and throw it while his bat has been late to the party it finally arrived this season to the tune of ACC Player of the Year and a 1.311 OPS with 13 HR and 50/28 So/BB ratio. I've never been a big fan of taking Grandal at #4 as I don't see the minor league weakness at catcher that some seem to think KC has. In fact in a couple years KC could be doin alright at catcher if Myers continues to develop. Manny Pina doesn't have a great bat but is solid defensively and would make for a great backup while Salvador Perez at only 20 is doing well in a tough righty hitting environment in Wilmington plus Myers who is hitting quite well in his first full season at Burlington. Perez and Myers are still far away but drafting Grandal might just stunt their growth as well unless KC thinks he is so polished offensively and defensively that he could step into AA ball right away which would be a stretch in my mind. Teams shouldn't draft for need they should take the best talent available and according to most boards taking Grandal at #4 would not be doing that.
Chris Sale LHP- Sale is a tall and lean hard throwing lefty who throws out of a 3/4 arm slot, who some have classified as a injury risk. I don't want to talk about injury risks or not because you just don't know the makeup of a person’s body. His motion and arm angles do not look good but neither do other pitchers who seem to survive. What he does have is a plus fastball and change up which would help him in the High A and AA levels but his breaking stuff isn't quite there yet. He's said to be developing his slider currently and it could develop into a 55 type pitch from what I've read. If he was to join the KC system he surely would be a taught a curveball as they don't like younger players to throw sliders although as a college lefty they might change their mind. I don't know if Duffy was still in the system if KC would be looking at Sale quite as strongly as they would already have Danny, Monty, Lamb and Dwyer working their way towards the top but his absence has opened up a potential spot for another lefty I guess. Sale as a college lefty and Cape Cod Player of the Year should move thru Wilmington quickly if started there and an above average fastball and change up would probably have him besting the AA league. He'll need the breaking pitch to succeed in the Majors but I think he would be a quality pick at 4 if Machado isn't there.
In conclusion if Machado is there I think this draft is deep enough in pitching to take the stud SS and grab a good one like Cam Bedrosion (son of Steve) in the second round. If he isn't I think the money is on Sale who with a solid breaking ball could develop into a #1 or #2 starting pitcher in my mind.