But as that talent has started to reach the Major Leagues -- Eric Hosmer, Aaron Crow and Danny Duffy are all enjoying big league success just a few years after being drafted -- it is now clear the cupboards need restocking.
So, instead of targeting college pitchers who could join Hosmer and Co. in Kansas City sooner rather than later, the Royals began Day 2 of the Draft going after high-potential high school prospects.
"We feel like we're at a point, organizationally, where we can go get some young kids with high ceilings, similar to what we did in '07 and '08," said J.J. Picollo, Royals Assistant General Manager of Scouting and Player Development. "We were looking to load up on the lower ends so we can start the next wave."
The Royals took high school catcher Cameron Gallagher in the second round, a 6-foot-3, 210-pounder from Lancaster, Pa. Gallagher earned a reputation for his catch-and-throw abilities, but this past spring, showed his bat was catching up quickly to his defense.
Kansas City got two more high schoolers in the next two rounds, taking right-handed pitchers Bryan Brickouse in the third round and Kyle Smith in the fourth.
Brickhouse is a 19-year-old from The Woodlands High School in Texas. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Brickhouse has a fastball clocked between 90-95 miles per hour and was named a 2011 Rawlings second-team All-American. Originally from North Carolina, he is committed to play for the Tar Heels. Most scouts project him as a No. 3 starter who has a lot of potential and a high ceiling.
"Kind of the prototypical thing you look for in high school kids -- power arms that can pitch with their fastball," Picollo said of Brickhouse. "But he's got a very good curveball [too]."
Smith was rated the No. 109 prospect by Baseball America. A 6-foot, 180-pound right-handed pitcher out of Santaluces High School in Lantana, Fla., Smith has a 94-mile-per-hour fastball and a sharp curve. He allowed just four earned runs in 69 1/3 innings this season while striking out 116 and was named the Palm Beach Post's large schools player of the year.
Smith is committed to the University of Florida, and should he go that way, is referred to as someone who should find success at the collegiate level quickly. Some compare him to Cincinnati pitcher Mike Leake.
"Kyle smith is interesting. He's not as physical as a lot of the guys we've signed in the last few years," Picollo said. "But as far as mechanics, delivery; plenty of fastball, 92, 93; a real good curveball, with a feel for pitching. He's cut out of a little bit different mold - I wouldn't call him a power pitcher, but he's got some power, with finesse to pitch. His delivery is real good."
The Royals got another high school prospect in the fifth round, shortstop Patrick Leonard. He's projected to play third base, and the 6-foot-4, 200-pounder brings right-handed power to the organization. Originally from Florida, he moved to Texas last summer and played under former Houston Astro Craig Biggio at St. Thomas High School.
"Big power, we project him as a third baseman," Picollo said of Leonard. "Right-handed power; we say it over and over, it's become a commodity now. It's tough to get right-handed power."
Other players the Royals drafted on Day 2 of the First-Year Player Draft:
Sixth Round -- Left-handed pitcher Cesar Ogando: A 6-foot-3, 210-pounder out of Caribbean College in Puerto Rico. Throws 90-94 miles per hour and was liked by one scout as a "shorter CC Sabathia."
Seventh Round -- Right-handed pitcher Kellen Moen: Moen is a 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior out of the University of Oregon. A reliever, he led the Ducks with eight saves in 2011, with a .185 batting average against.
Eighth Round -- Right-handed pitcher Evan Beal: A 6-foot-5, 202-pound starter out of South County Secondary school in Virginia. Signed to play at the University of South Carolina.
Ninth Round -- Right-handed pitcher Aaron Brooks: A 6-foot-4 starter from Cal State Bernardino. Was named California Collegiate Athletic Association Pitcher of the Week for the week of April 18-24.
10th Round -- Right-handed pitcher Matt Murray: Out of Southern Georgia University, the 6-foot-3, 225-pounder was named the Southern Conference Pitcher of the Year for 2011. Led league in ERA (1.99) and opponent's batting average (.188) as he picked up nine saves.
11th Round -- Outfielder Jerrell Allen: Out of Milford High School in Delware, Allen is a 6-foot-2 right-handed hitter who was named the 2011 Delaware High School Player of the Year.
12th Round -- Left-handed pitcher Adam Schemenauer: A product of Park Hill South High School in Missouri, Schemenauer is 6-foot-9 and 225 pounds. Committed to the University of Louisville.
13th Round -- Left-handed pitcher Stephen Lumpkins: Averaged 13.5 points as a 6-foot-8 forward for the American University basketball team in 2010-2011. Drafted in 42nd round of 2010 Draft by Pittsburgh, did not sign. American University has no baseball team, Lumpkins hasn't pitched since high school.
14th Round -- Outfielder D'Andre Toney: A 5-foot-10, 185-pounder out of Gulf Coast Community College in Panama City, Fla. Named to All-Panhandle Conference first team in 2011.
15th Round -- First baseman Richard Dean Espy: Goes by Dean; 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, led Bruins with .320 batting average, with 15 doubles and 40 RBIs.
16th Round -- Shortstop Jack Lopez: Smooth fielder, pure hitter, out of Deltona High School in Florida. 5-foot-10, 165 pounds, has scholarship to University of Miami. Son of Cincinnati Reds bullpen coach Juan "Porky" Lopez.
17th Round -- Shortstop Nic Cuckovich: A 6-foot-2, 200-pounder from Riverside Community College in California.
18th Round -- Right-handed pitcher Andy Ferguson: A senior from Arkansas State, went 7-4 with a 3.59 ERA for the Red Wolves, pitching two complete games.
19th Round -- Right-handed pitcher Matt Flemer: Had five saves and a 2.14 ERA for Cal, striking out 36 in 33 2/3 innings as a junior.
20th Round -- Right-fielder Terrance Gore: A 5-foot-7 teammate of 14th-round pick D'Andre Toney, hit .330 for Gulf Coast CC.
21st Round -- Catcher Kenny Swab: Won 2011 ACC baseball championship with Virginia. Hit .306 with .427 on-base percentage.
22nd Round -- Left-handed pitcher David Middendorf: Struck out 127 in 109 1/3 innings pitched, with a 1.73 ERA for Northern Kentucky University in 2011.
23rd Round -- Catcher Lance Harper: 6-foot-2 out of Scottsdale Community college, hit .335.
24th Round -- Right-handed pitcher Spencer Patton: Went 9-3 for Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, with 2.55 ERA and struck out 109 batters (11.10K/nine innings).
25th Round -- Third baseman Mark Threlkeld: 6-foot-3, 210-pounder out of Louisiana Tech. Hit .309, with .918 OPS, 45 RBIs.
26th Round -- Left-handed pitcher Joseph Moorefield: Carried 2-1 record out of bullpen for Clemson in 2011.
27th Round -- Center fielder Lee Clubb: Four-sport athlete out of Iowa Park High School in Texas, intends to play football at Colorado State.
28th Round -- Right-handed pitcher Jordan Ramsey: Product of North Davidson High School in North Carolina, committed to the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
29th Round -- Right-handed pitcher Jakob Junis: 6-foot-3 product of Rock Falls High School in Illinois.
30th Round -- Right-handed pitcher Mark (Christian) Binford: Signed to play at Virginia, out of Mercersburg Academy. 6-foot-7, 225 pounds.
Live coverage of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft resumes at noon ET Wednesday on MLB.com, where fans will receive exclusive coverage of Day 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player. You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Adam Holt is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less