A look back at the 2012 Draft

Of the KC Royals forty draft picks in 2012, none have reached the big leagues. In Baseball America’s most recent Prospect Handbook, they gave the Royals 2012 Draft a C grade.

12_draftFive of the Royals draft picks have reached Triple-A, though only briefly at the end of the 2014 season. First round pick Kyle Zimmer, despite all the injuries, pitched dominantly in the playoffs for Omaha. Second round pick Sam Selman pitched in five games for Omaha, but did not pitch in the Storm Chasers Triple-A Championship run. That came after pitching as both a starter and reliever for most the of the season at Double-A NW Arkansas.

Catcher Parker Morin, a 14th rounder, played in one game for Omaha at the end of the season. He also stayed with the Storm Chasers in the postseason. Morin hit just .206 in 55 games in Double-A prior to his promotion. The Royals 19th round pick, right-hander Andrew Triggs, pitched in one game for Omaha at the end of the season, but allowed just one hit over four scoreless playoff innings. That came after Triggs saved 19 games with Double-A NW Arkansas.

Catcher Beau Maggi (24th round) was mainly a roster filler in 2014 (he spent a good chunk of the season on Wilmington’s DL), but he did play in four games for the Storm Chasers. Maggi was released following the season.

Royals minor league outfielder Ethan Chapman on July 28, 2013 with Wilmington (Jen Nevius).

Royals minor league outfielder Ethan Chapman on July 28, 2013 with Wilmington (Jen Nevius).

Only one of the Royals draft picks reached Double-A in 2014: outfielder Ethan Chapman, who was drafted in the 30th round. He hit .235 in 106 games, though sixty of his hits were singles and he struggled mightily in the second half (just a .218 batting average, but nine of his ten extra base hits).

Injuries have plagued two of the Royals top three draft picks. We all know about the struggles of Zimmer and many wonder how he will pitch once he returns to the mound in May/June of 2015. Third round pick Colin Rodgers pitched in just nine games in 2013 with Low-A Lexington (3.27 ERA in 43 innings) and returned to the mound late in the 2014 season. Rodgers made one start for rookie level Idaho Falls, before finishing the season with Lexington (six starts totaling 11 innings).

Meanwhile, Selman has dealt with control problems that dated back to his college days at Vanderbilt (163 walks compared to 311 strikeouts in 282.2 career minor league innings). He doesn’t give up hard contact, but has trouble throwing strikes and going deep into games.

Kenny Diekroeger, the Royals fourth round pick (133rd overall), has amounted to a utility fielder who has spent most of his career in Low-A (609 of his 881 career at-bats have come at the rookie and Low-A levels). His highest batting average came this season at Low-A Lexington (.265 in 51 games).

Eight draft picks have been released. First baseman Sam Bates (28th round) hit ten home runs in 51 games with rookie level Burlington in 2013 before a late season promotion to High-A Wilmington. However, he was released before the 2014 season. Reliever Zeb Sneed (11th round) is the highest 2012 draft pick to have been let go. He had a solid season in Wilmington in 2014 (2.71 ERA in 38 relief appearances), but a tweet directed towards Royals rookie Yordano Ventura and his Dominican flag during the postseason got Sneed into hot water.

Blue Rocks pitcher Johnny Walter during his spot start on August 14, 2014 (Jen Nevius).

Blue Rocks pitcher Johnny Walter during his spot start on August 14, 2014 (Jen Nevius).

Most of the Royals 2012 draft picks played another season of rookie ball in 2014 or played for Low-A Lexington. Lefty Daniel Stumpf (ninth round) and right-hander Johnny Walter (29th round) were the exceptions. Those two spent the entire 2014 season in High-A Wilmington. Stumpf started the season in the rotation after being a workhorse with the Legends in 2013. However, he struggled and moved to the bullpen. Stumpf pitched fairly well as a late addition to the Arizona Fall League. Walter started the season in the bullpen, but was forced into the rotation at the end of the season.

Outfielder Fred Ford (seventh round) has shown some speed and pop (52 doubles and 38 home runs in 1015 career at-bats), but he does struggle to get on base (a career .304 OBP with 395 strikeouts). Ford was a late season callup to Wilmington in 2014 after playing the bulk of the season with the Legends (.206 with Lexington and just .152 in 17 games with the Blue Rocks).

Catcher Chad Johnson (fifth round), outfielder Alfredo Escalera-Maldonado (eighth round), outfielder Alexis Rivera (tenth round), right-hander Alec Mills (22nd round), and lefty Matt Tenuta (25th round) were all with Low-A Lexington in 2014. Mills was back after a 2013 All-Star selection with the Legends, as he recovered from Tommy John surgery (he did not miss a beat when he returned). Mills’ career ERA with the Legends is 1.40 in 25 games (ten starts) and opponents have not hit better than .198 against him at that level. He could be on the fast track if he is 100% healthy.

Sixth round pick Zach Lovvorn, a right-handed pitcher, has spent three seasons in rookie ball. So have lefties Dylan Sons (15th round), Austin Fairchild (16th round), and Matt Strahm (21st round). Fairchild started the season with Lexington and was great in one start (six no-hit innings), but his next start was a disaster (nine runs in 1.1 innings with six walks). Then he didn’t pitch until July and that was with Idaho Falls. Right-hander Jake Newberry (37th round) was also still in Idaho Falls in 2014.

Ashton Goudeau (27th round) started the 2014 season with rookie level Idaho Falls, but finished the season with Low-A Lexington. The right-hander struggled with the Legends, allowing opponents to hit .324 against him, while walking six in 17.2 innings.

Eight of the Royals unsigned draft picks are currently playing in college, though Raphael Andrades (36th round) plays football at Florida. Right-hander Taylor Kaczmarek, the Royals 40th round pick, pitched in three games for the University of San Diego in 2014, but had to red-shirt. He battled leukemia while in junior college.

 

Out of the 2012 MLB Draft, six first rounders have reached the big leagues. They would be Seattle catcher Mike Zunino (third), Baltimore left-hander Kevin Gausman (fourth), former Miami and now LA Angels lefty Andrew Heaney (ninth), St. Louis right-hander and 2013 playoff hero Michael Wacha (19th), Toronto righty Marcus Stroman (22nd), and Colorado righty Eddie Butler (46th).

Two second rounders have reached the big leagues: LA Dodgers reliever Paco Rodriguez (82nd) and Atlanta lefty Alex Wood (85th). Rodriguez debuted at the end of the 2012 season, while Wood pitched in 31 games in 2013 (and 35 games in 2014).

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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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