A look back at the 2011 Draft

Of the KC Royals fifty 2011 draft picks, just two have reached the Major Leagues. They were right-handed pitcher Aaron Brooks (ninth round) and speedy outfielder Terrance Gore (20th round).

Brooks had a forgettable big league debut in 2014, making two appearances (one start). On May 3rd, he debuted against Detroit. He pitched the final two innings, allowing six runs on seven hits (including a three-run home run to Torii Hunter in the ninth). All six runs scored in the ninth.

Brooks made the start on May 31st in Toronto which was even worse. He did not make it out of the first inning, allowing seven runs on five hits, three walks, and two hit batters. He recorded just two outs, a double play off the bat of Anthony Gose after five runs had already scored.

Gore went from hitting just .218 in 89 games with High-A Wilmington to the big leagues by September in 2014. He was called upon as a pinch runner for the most part (just two plate appearances), as he stole five bases and scored five runs. In the postseason, he stole three bases, but did not attempt a stolen base in either the American League Championship Series or the World Series (three total games).

Former Blue Rock Christian Binford pitching on June 5, 2014 (Jen Nevius).

Former Blue Rock Christian Binford pitching on June 5, 2014 (Jen Nevius).

Of the other 48 Royals draft picks, just one other has reached Triple-A (besides Brooks, who spent the entire season with Omaha, and Gore). That would be right-hander Christian Binford (30th round), who started the Triple-A National Championship for Omaha in 2014 after spending the first half of the season dominating with High-A Wilmington (92 strikeouts to just 11 walks in 82.2 innings).

Four other draft picks played at the Double-A level in 2014, but only righty Andy Ferguson (18th round) was with NW Arkansas the entire season. Relievers Matt Murray (10th round) and Ali Williams (34th round) started the 2014 season with High-A Wilmington, but were promoted after dominating Carolina League hitters. Williams also pitched for Peoria in the Arizona Fall League this fall. First baseman Mark Threlkeld (25th round) started and finished the season in Double-A (.246 in 85 games), but also saw time with Wilmington.

The Royals top three picks in 2011 have reached as high as High-A Wilmington, as right-hander Bryan Brickhouse (third round) was held back due to Tommy John surgery. Top pick Bubba Starling hasn’t figured it out offensively yet (a career .237 hitter in three seasons), but he is a great defensive centerfielder. Plus he is durable (132 games played in 2014). He was just invited to big league spring training, so maybe something will click. Second round pick Cam Gallagher also has not figured out how to hit in the minors, though he missed most of the 2013 season due to separate wrist injuries. Gallagher also was invited to big league camp this spring.

The Royals next two picks, righty Kyle Smith and third baseman/first baseman Patrick Leonard, were traded. Smith went to Houston for Justin Maxwell at the July 2013 trading deadline, while Leonard went to Tampa Bay in the Shields/Davis/Myers blockbuster offseason deal in 2012.

Spencer Patton pitching for the Royals during spring training 2014 (Jen Nevius).

Spencer Patton pitching for the Royals during spring training 2014 (Jen Nevius).

Two more 2011 draft picks were traded: D’Andre Toney (14th round) and Spencer Patton (24th round). Toney, an outfielder, was traded to Houston in 2012, but is now out of baseball. Patton, a right-handed reliever, was traded to Texas at the 2014 All-Star Break. Patton made his Major League debut with the Rangers this past September.

Six more 2011 draft picks have been released, with the highest being seventh rounder Kellen Moen. Dean Espy (15th round) was released in March of 2013, but Colorado quickly signed him.

Eight picks are listed as inactive, which makes me think they quit baseball (but are still Royals property until they become six-year free agents). Of the inactive, five have not played since the 2012 season ended (all in rookie ball), one has not played since the 2013 season ended (46th rounder Adrian Bringas), one was done after the 2011 season in Arizona (35th rounder Gabriel Gray), and outfielder Andrew Durden (38th round) never played a game.

Lefty Stephen Lumpkins (13th round) played one season of rookie ball before going back to school to play basketball.

Six of the Royals 2011 drafts picks did not sign and were re-drafted. The most notable was right-hander Evan Beal (eighth round), who went to South Carolina. Beal was drafted in 2014 by the Royals again, though this time much later (21st round).

First baseman Chris Serritella was drafted in the 31st round, but went back to school and was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2012 in the fourth round (he was recently released). Second baseman Matt Wessinger also went back to school after the Royals selected him in the 37th round and Colorado drafted him in the fifth round in 2012.

Nine other draft picks went on to start college careers. One, Lee Clubb, is playing football at Colorado State.

As you can see, 2011 was not a banner draft for the Royals. Baseball America’s most recent Prospect Handbook gave the Royals 2011 draft a D grade. Hopefully, some of the Royals draft picks can figure out the professional ranks and move up in the system to make an impact on the big league club.

 

Meanwhile, 22 (by my count) 2011 draft picks have reached the big leagues (from the first three rounds). Number one pick Gerritt Cole is the ace of the Pittsburgh staff. Former college teammate and number three pick Trevor Bauer looks like a rotation lock for Cleveland. Baltimore’s Dylan Bundy (fourth pick) is recovering from Tommy John surgery, but was on the fast track for Major League stardom. Anthony Rendon is the future for Washington (sixth pick) and can more than handle his own at either third base or second base. Javier Baez (ninth pick by the Chicago Cubs) made his big league debut on August 5, 2014.

Outfielder George Springer (11th pick) also made his debut in 2014, with Houston, and looks to be a future star. Jose Fernandez (14th pick of Miami) was the National League Rookie of the Year in 2013, before succumbing to Tommy John surgery in 2014. CJ Cron (17th pick by LA Angels) debuted on May 3, 2014.

Lefty Sonny Gray (18th pick) looks to be a fixture in the Oakland rotation for years to come (or until he becomes too expensive and then he will be traded). Second baseman Kolten Wong (22nd round) went from goat of the playoffs for St. Louis in 2013 to a hero in 2014. Joe Panik (29th pick) should be a fixture at second base for San Francisco for years to come, especially after his play in the 2014 World Series.

Jackie Bradley Jr (40th pick) has showed off his defense in center for Boston, but has yet to prove he can hit big league pitching. Andrew Chafin (43rd pick) made his debut with Arizona on August 13, 2014 (he started three games for the Diamondbacks). 58th pick Jace Peterson, an infielder with San Diego, made his debut on April 25, 2014. He played 27 games, but hit just .113.

Even some second round guys have reached the big leagues. Brad Miller, a second round pick of Seattle, made his big league debut on June 28, 2013. He played 76 games in 2013 and 123 in 2014. Lefty Daniel Norris (74th overall pick of Toronto) debuted at the end of the 2014 season for the Blue Jays and looks to be a fixture of their pitching staff. 80th pick Erik Johnson debuted at the end of the 2013 season and made the Chicago White Sox pitching staff on Opening Day 2014 (though he only pitched in five games). 86th overall pick Andrew Susac was the backup catcher in the World Series for the Giants.

Both catcher James McCann (76th pick of Detroit) and shortstop Nick Ahmed (85th pick of Atlanta and traded to Arizona) debuted in September of 2014.

Lefty Tony Cingrani (114th overall pick) should win one of the open rotation spots for Cincinnati. He debuted at the end of the 2012 season, made 23 appearances (18 starts) in 2013, and 13 appearances (11 starts) in 2014.

And more of that 2011 draft talent is coming, like eighth pick Francisco Lindor (Cleveland), 23rd pick Alex Meyer (Minnesota), 26th pick Blake Swihart (Boston), 27th pick Robert Stephenson (Cincinnati), 31st pick Mikie Mahtook (TB), and 36th pick Henry Owens (Boston) to name a few.

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About Jen Nevius

I first became a KC Royals fan way back in 1995 when I attended my first Wilmington Blue Rocks game. I fell in love with minor league baseball then and began following the Royals as former Blue Rocks clawed their way to the big leagues. 3+ years ago I started covering the Royals for Aerys Sports, but since the site has been shut down, I am going out on my own.
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