First-rounders Russell, Watson among 20 hurlers taken by club
By Jordan Wilson
KANSAS CITY -- Even from the inside looking out, the Royals selecting right-handers Ashe Russell and Nolan Watson in the 2015 MLB Draft -- both from the same township in Indiana -- was pure coincidence.
Or luck, as director of scouting Lonnie Goldberg put it.
"We were extremely fortunate that both players were there," Goldberg said. "Both fell next to each other on [our] list, and we just basically got lucky."
The pair of high school pitchers highlight some of the 41 players selected by the Royals over three days. The club finished with 20 pitchers and 21 position players, nine of which were outfielders.
In terms of pitching, the Royals returned to their historic fondness for right-handers over lefties -- a trend broken in 2014 for the first time in more than 20 years when they selected 12 lefties to seven righties.
Twelve right-handers were drafted compared with eight left-handers in 2015, while the Royals took three, including Russell and Watson, with their top three picks on the first day. Josh Staumont, a college junior, was the other selection from Day 1.
"We attacked power arms," Goldberg said. "Obviously, we followed up [Russell and Watson] with Josh Staumont. He might have the most electric arm in the Draft. I haven't seen one in the amateur level where the ball comes out that good."
While position players were in bulk for a consecutive year, the majority of those taken were outfielders (9), shortstops (6) and catchers (4).
Only one first baseman and one at third were selected by Kansas City. No second basemen were taken, though scouting reports indicate some shortstops are primed to slide over onto any of the other three infield spots.
The Royals also drafted their first and only player from the Kansas City area in two years when they took outfielder Marquise Doherty in the 15th round, but Doherty, a University of Missouri commit for both football and baseball, indicated his signing was unlikely, via an interview with the Kansas City Star.
"He's an extremely athletic player both on the football field and obviously on the baseball field," Goldberg said. "We'll just continue to build a relationship and see what happens. If not, we'll follow him at Mizzou and check him out in three years."
The downward trend of drafted high school players continued this year, dropping to just seven from 12 in the last two years -- the lowest total this century.
"What I really believe is with the new system and how it's set up … the majority of it is going to be college players," Goldberg said. "I think some of the negotiating power some of the high school kids have is a big part of that.
"The reality of it is that you have to be deep in the college."
Goldberg did, however, say the staff was not worried about bringing drafted players aboard, having already spoken to all 41 draftees. He also projects all three first picks -- Russell, Watson and Staumont -- will be starters at their respective affiliates come Spring Training next year.
"We're not fearful that anything won't go how we expect it to," Goldberg said. "We draft those kids with the thought process that we're going to get it done."
Jordan Wilson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.