With no selections until No. 67, champs not focused on needs in big leagues
By Scott Chasen
The 2016 Draft will take place today through Saturday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB Network and MLB.com at 5 p.m. CT. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 6 p.m., with the top 77 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of Day 2 begins with a live Draft show at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, with exclusive coverage of Day 3 beginning at noon. on Saturday.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 200 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of over 1,500 Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Here's how the Draft is shaping up for the Royals, whose first selection is the 67th overall pick.
In about 50 words
The Royals don't have a first-round pick this year after signing right-hander Ian Kennedy to a five-year deal in January. They'll have to be that much more efficient with the picks they do have to replenish a farm system that lost several prospects via trade last year, as the Royals put the finishing touches on their World Series-winning roster.
With the Royals losing five young pitchers (Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb, Cody Reed, Sean Manaea and Aaron Brooks) between the Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist trades last year, it certainly couldn't hurt for the team to replenish some of its pitching depth. In particular, adding a left-hander to the staff, such as Vanderbilt's Ben Bowden, could be valuable.
There's also some room for position players, though it seems the Royals have found success in the players they've called up throughout the year. Really, picking so late, it's less about need and more about value.
If there's a guy who falls and the Royals see him as a safe bet, that'll probably be the direction they will go -- even if there are potentially some swing-for-the-fences candidates still around. If the Royals take a risk with the No. 67 overall pick and it doesn't work out, they could essentially end up with no Top-100 Draft Prospects, as their next pick is all the way down at 103 .
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.
Any team going up to 5 percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75 percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75 percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100 percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100 percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.
To sign their first 10 picks, the Royals have been allocated a pool total of $3,225,300 -- less than half of the $7.2 million the team had last year. The value assigned to the club's first pick is $963,700, which is the second-lowest for any team's first pick in the Draft, after the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs will make their first selection at No. 104, after the Royals have already picked twice.
Some things don't change from year to year. If a potential starting pitcher or a versatile position player with a big bat falls, that'd probably be the most ideal situation. But more important is that the Royals are taking calculated risks.
The team still has a decent host of pitchers, especially after last year's Draft, so its top pick this year shouldn't be about trying to replace left-hander Finnegan -- who was traded to the Reds last year -- and trying to reach for a pitcher who has a slight chance to immediately become one of the team's best prospects if there's too much of a risk.
Really, it's about not trying to do anything other than to replenish the depth of a farm system that is ever-important in today's game for a team with a middle-of-the-pack payroll.
The Royals took pitchers with their first three picks last year, and with their first two picks in 2014. Throughout the past four years, at least two of the team's three top picks have been pitchers.
Whit Merrifield has definitely seen his stock rise, so much so that when he was given a day off recently against the Indians, some Royals fans reacted on Twitter as though manager Ned Yost had benched Eric Hosmer or Lorenzo Cain. The super-utility player had a hit in each of his first 11 career starts.
After being selected with the 673rd pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, right-hander Alec Mills was called upon by the Royals as the 26th man for a doubleheader on May 18. Despite dealing with a couple injuries in his young career, Mills has been one of the organization's better Minor League pitchers.
In the Show
It seems like much of the 2010 Draft class is starting to pan out. Players like Christian Colon, Brett Eibner, Scott Alexander and Merrifield have each made their mark on the team already this year.