KC Royals: Nick Gonzales looking the part of fourth overall pick early on

The KC Royals are projected to select Nick Gonzales in the upcoming MLB amateur draft in June. Gonzales has been on an absolute tear to start the 2020 NCAA season and the June draft can’t get here soon enough.

The Kansas City Royals have the fourth, 32nd, 41st, and 78th pick in the upcoming amateur draft in June 2020. The draft presents a great opportunity for the Royals to build on their exciting farm system.

According to BaseballAmerica.com (subscription required), the Royals are projected to select second baseman Nick Gonzales with the fourth overall draft pick.

Through eight games (four games vs Texas Southern and four games vs Iona), Gonzales carries an unbelievable slash line of .567/.698/1.433 with 17 hits, 7 home runs, three 2Bs, one 3B, 26 RBI, 17 Rs, 10 BB (3 HBP), and only three Ks in 30 at-bats. These are beyond video game numbers as Gonzales leads the NCAA (division 1) in home runs, RBIs, and runs scored through the first two weeks of the season.

Gonzales has also been steady in the field for the 8-0 New Mexico State Aggies, collecting ten putouts, 27 assists, with a 1.000% fielding percentage splitting time between shortstop and second base.

Gonzales his New Mexico State teammates will face tougher competition in the upcoming weeks with games against 12th ranked Arizona State, Texas A&M (8-0), and San Diego State (5-2).

Note: New Mexico State plays in the WAC baseball conference which is considered an average competition level conference. For comparison, Arizona State and Texas A&M play in the PAC-12 and SEC conferences respectively which are considered great competition level conferences.

Great competition leagues in the NCAA are more advanced and similar to competition levels at high A in the MLB farm system. Good like MWC (San Diego State) and average competition level conferences like the WAC are similar to low A levels and advanced short-season leagues in the MLB farm system.

Maintaining this pace against higher levels of talent will be incredibly hard for Gonzales. He has, however, put up ridiculous hitting numbers before in 2019 NCAA season (.432/.532/.773 with 16 homers) as well as the 2019 Cape Cod summer league (.351/.451/.630 with seven bombs), so it is not out of the realm of possibility.

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

Gonzales has the potential to be a better hitter than his current scouting grades (possible 70 grade hit tool and 55 power). He’s capable of eclipsing his projections of being a .280 hitter with 15-18 home runs per year. If continues his torrid offense pace for the entire season he will be in play for the number one overall selection.

Gonzales should slip to the fourth overall pick because he has a limited ceiling defensively and on the base-paths. He should still be consistent in the field, with good hands, solid footwork, and a slightly above average arm.

He’s likely destined to be a future second base option as his arm and range aren’t at the level of a quality defensive shortstop. Gonzales’ game isn’t reliant on speed, but he’s still capable of nabbing ten stolen bases annually.

Gonzales offers tremendous value at the number four pick and he should still be available for the Kansas City Royals with teams selecting ahead likely to draft other big-name prospects. He’s received comparisons to Milwaukee Brewers Keston Hiura offensively, but should be more reliable in the field defensively.

Gonzales is an advanced hitter and would likely be placed at the Royals A level ball-club in Lexington or A+ level Wilmington where he could meet up with his future double play partner Bobby Witt Jr.

Gonzales and Witt Jr could be one of the best offensive middle infields in the American League for the better part of the decade.

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