The Kansas City Royals have the fourth, 32nd, 41st, and 78th pick in the upcoming amateur draft in June 2020. The NCAA season begins this weekend, so it’s time to make some incredibly early predictions on who they may take.
The only good thing about losing 103 games in a season is chance to make a selection high in the MLB amateur draft the following season and potentially change your ballclub’s future. The Kansas City Royals are a small market ball club with a low payroll and the benefit of having a small market and payroll is the Royals get a “competitive balance pick” following the first round (and free agency compensation round) of the amateur draft.
In total, the Royals will make four selections in the June MLB amateur draft in the top 80. Based on the 2019 MLB amateur draft slot values, the Royals will have about $14 million to sign each of their draft selections in June. This is another important year for Royals rebuild and the front office needs to continue to draft players who will contribute to the major league club.
Here are my predictions for the Royals selections at #4, #32, #41, and #78.
#4 draft pick overall – Nick Gonzales, Second Base (pick value $6,664,000)
Nick Gonzales is a 21-year-old, 5’10”, 190 lb., right-handed hitting second baseman out New Mexico State University. He’s been labeled a “pure hitter” and after his 2019 performance in the Cape Cod summer league many scouts are starting to believe in the ridiculous hitting numbers, he has accumulated in the high desert of Las Cruces, New Mexico home of New Mexico State University.
- 2019 stats (NCAA): .432/.532/.773 with 19 2Bs, 4 3Bs, 16 HRs, 45 BBs (30 Ks), 7/10 SBs in 220 ABs
- 2019 stats (Cap Cod): .351/.451/.630 with 14 2Bs, 4 3Bs, 7 HRs, 20 BBS (22 Ks), 6/6 SBS in 154 ABs
According to the Draft Board at fangraphs.com, Gonzales has a future value of 50 (out of 80), with the following future tool grades:
- Hit: 60 Power (game): 50 Power (raw): 50 Speed: 50 Fielding: 50 Arm: 50
Translating the 80-grade scouting scale into statistical productions makes Gonzales look like a .280 hitter with 15-18 home runs per year and is capable of stealing 10-15 bases and providing slightly above average defense at second base.
If you apply one standard deviation to the scouting grades (+/-5 on the scale), Gonzales is likely to produce at his peak somewhere between a .270 – .290 batting average and 12 – 22 home runs.
Watching video on Gonzales, you can see his hitting potential is tremendous. He has impressive bat speed, with a quick set/load, balance to hit to all fields, and a compact swing to get around on high velocity. He is disciplined enough to avoid getting fooled and he doesn’t get cheated on his swings. There is enough overall potential to make Gonzales one of the best second basemen in the league during his peak.
Gonzales offers tremendous value at the number four pick and he should slide to Royals with teams selecting ahead likely to draft other big-name prospects. Gonzales is an advanced hitter and would likely be placed at the Royals A ballclub in Lexington where he could meet up with his future double play partner Bobby Witt Jr. That’s assuming Witt Jr. progresses enough early next season to warrant the aggressive promotion.
The combination of Gonzales and Witt Jr in the middle infield for the Royals could arrive in Kansas City as soon as 2023, with a likely full season in the majors in 2024. The offensive potential each possesses could make Kansas City the envy of the American League.