With the second overall pick in the MLB Draft on Monday night, the Kansas City Royals selected 18-year-old shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. out of Colleyville Heritage (Texas) High School.
Witt, the son of former Major League right-handed pitcher Bobby Witt (who was picked third overall in 1985 by the Texas Rangers before enjoying a 16-year career with seven different teams) had been linked to the Kansas City Royals for quite some time before the relationship came to fruition.
Mock drafts from sites like MLB Pipeline, The Big Lead, Bleacher Report, and 2080 Baseball all had the Royals nabbing Witt at number two over the likes of California first baseman Andrew Vaughn, Blessed Trinity Catholic (Ga.) High School’s shortstop/center fielder C.J. Abrams, and Vanderbilt outfielder J.J. Bleday. Even Baseball America, in their draft preview issue, had it happening.
Witt, who won Gatorade’s National Baseball Player of the Year award after hitting .519 with 14 home runs, 49 runs batted in, and a 1.696 OPS, “is the best shortstop prospect in a 2019 Draft full of first-round candidates at the position,” according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis. Callis also wrote:
"Witt is…a potential five-tool shortstop. He could have plus tools across the board, hitting for average and power, displaying plus speed and arm strength…and making all the plays at shortstop."
By selecting Witt, the Royals took the best prospect on the board. While the Royals may also have done that in last year’s draft, selecting a high school player is a departure for the team. In the 2018 MLB Draft, the Royals used all of their first five picks on collegiate pitchers while not selecting a high school player until their 12th pick, which came in the ninth round.
Now comes some business for the Royals and Witt.
Major League Baseball assigns a monetary value to each pick in the first 10 rounds of the draft. The number two overall pick has an assigned value of $7,789,900.00. The Royals organization has at its disposal a bonus pool of $13,108,00.00, third most behind only the Arizona Diamondbacks and Baltimore Orioles. A list of both assigned values and bonus pools can be found here.
Right now, Witt is committed to play baseball for the Oklahoma Sooners next fall. The Royals will have to make an offer enticing enough for Witt to forego that commitment.
If no deal is reached, the Royals will get next year’s number three overall pick in addition to their regular first-round pick. If the two sides reach a deal, Witt will join an intriguing, yet currently struggling, group of young players within the Royals’ farm system.