The 2013 Major League Baseball Draft seems to have gone much better for the KC Royals than in years past, at least heading into the draftees second spring training. In Baseball America’s most recent Prospect Handbook, they gave the Royals draft a B grade.
Third baseman Hunter Dozier, considered the safe pick at number eight overall, has already reach Double-A (though he struggled there for the first time in his short career). Dozier was invited to big league camp this spring. A solid start to his 2015 season should have Dozier knocking on the big league door.
Of the players the Royals aggressively pushed to High-A in their first full professional season, all more than held their own. None dominated more than Glenn Sparkman (20th round), who was named the Carolina League Pitcher of the Year. He did not move into the Wilmington rotation until the end of May, so Sparkman was not chosen for the All-Star team. All he did was lead the CL in ERA (1.56), strike out 117 in 121 innings (compared to just 25 walks), and hold opponents to a .213 average.
Lefty Jonathan Dziedzic (13th round) did make the CL All-Star team. Though he was often overlooked in the Wilmington rotation (and tired at the end of the season), he put up solid numbers. Dziedzic made 24 starts (125 innings) and held a 2.52 ERA. He struck out 113 while walking 35.
Fellow lefty Sean Manaea (supplemental round) did not put it all together until the second half of the season in Wilmington. But when he did, he flat out dominated to form a potent 1-2 tandem with Sparkman. Manaea held a 1.96 ERA in the second half in 13 starts, including a complete game shutout. In 73.1 innings, he walked 29 and struck out 79, while allowing just one home run. Opponents hit just .180 against him in the second half. Manaea was also invited to big league camp this spring and could move very quickly if he pitches anything like he did in the second half of 2014.
Fourth round pick Zane Evans, a catcher, started out hot at the plate in Wilmington (hitting .317) before cooling off to hit just .226 overall. Evans needs work catching (seven passed balls and five errors), especially since he was the DH more in Wilmington (with Cam Gallagher getting the bulk of the catching duties): 51 games as the DH compared to 50 behind the plate.
First baseman Cody Stubbs (eighth round) and outfielder Daniel Rockett (ninth round) both were in Wilmington the entire season and showed growing pains. Stubbs led the Blue Rocks in home runs with ten, but only hit 11 doubles. He even made starts in left field after the promotion of Terrance Gore. Rockett was the regular right fielder for much of the season (92 of his 116 games), but hit just .205 while striking out 87 times. He also committed seven errors.
Lefty Kyle Bartsch (seventh round) struggled to start the season in Wilmington, but he was virtually unhittable in August when the Blue Rocks were battling for a playoff spot (just four hits allowed over 12 innings). During the second half, he carried a 1.74 ERA and struck out 27 over 31 innings (compared to four walks). He was 6-for-8 in save opportunities. Bartsch was then traded to San Diego this offseason for outfielder Reymond Fuentes.
Eight players spent the entire 2014 season with rookie level Burlington, while Javier Reynoso (23rd round) spent the entire season with rookie level Idaho Falls.
Six players were in Low-A, with Luke Farrell (sixth round) making two starts at the end of the season in Double-A. Righty Kevin Perez (17th round) also made two appearances at the end of 2014 with NW Arkansas. Fellow righty Andrew Brockett (22nd round) started the 2014 season in Burlington, but ended it with Lexington.
The Royals 18th and 19th round picks, Frank Schwindel and Andrew Edwards, played for both Lexington and Wilmington. Edwards, the pitcher, spent more time with the Blue Rocks (he also made four appearances there in 2013), while Schwindel (a catcher) played first base at the end of the season (16 games with three doubles and two home runs). Both should start the season back with the Blue Rocks.
The Royals released both their 29th and 30th round picks: right-hand pitcher Alex Black and second baseman Andrew Ayers. Ayers was let go following his time in Burlington in 2013 and is now coaching.
Three of the Royals unsigned picks were re-drafted in 2014. First baseman Ryan McBroom (36th round) went in the 15th round to Toronto and right-hander Keaton Steele (40th round) went in the eighth round to Minnesota. Righty Isaac Anderson was drafted in the 19th round by Cincinnati after being selected in the 34th round in 2013 by the Royals. However, Anderson did not sign with the Reds and will be playing for Wichita State this spring.
Eight more of the Royals draft picks in 2013 are playing in college, though Jake Matthews (38th round) is playing football at Arizona. The most notable is right-hander Mike Shawaryn (32nd round), who went from baseball powerhouse Gloucester Catholic (my alma mater) and the Brooklawn American Legion champions to Maryland. He was a stud during his freshman season in the Terps final season in the ACC. Shawaryn will be the Terps Friday night starter in their first year in the Big Ten and could be a top ten pick in the draft in 2016.
Shortstop Trace Tam Sing (26th round) did not sign, but he is playing in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization (the NY Penn League in 2014).
Meanwhile, there have not been a ton of players from the 2013 MLB Draft to have reached the big leagues. All who have reached the big leagues so far are college pitchers. Lefty Marco Gonzales (19th overall pick) moved quickly as a college pitcher through the St. Louis system and reached the big leagues in 2014. He was also a huge part of their postseason run.
Corey Knebel (compensation pick of Detroit) has had a whirlwind year. He was drafted by the Tigers 39th overall and then was traded to Texas at the July 2014 trading deadline for veteran reliever Joakim Soria. The Rangers than traded Knebel this offseason to Milwaukee for Yovani Gallardo. Oh and he made his big league debut on May 24, 2014 (eight big league games with the Tigers).
Lefty Kyle Crockett was another college pitcher who moved quickly, this time through the Cleveland farm system. The fourth rounder out of Virginia made his big league debut on May 16, 2014 and pitched in 43 big league games for the Indians (with a 1.80 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 30 innings).
Fifth rounder Buck Farmer (Detroit) and eighth rounder Kendall Graveman (Toronto) each made their big league debuts late in the 2014 season. Farmer’s came on August 13th and he made four appearances (two starts). Graveman’s came in September and he made five appearances out of the Blue Jays bullpen.
However, the first three picks in the draft: Mark Appel (Houston), Kris Bryant (Chicago Cubs), and Jon Gray (Colorado) are expected to make an impact in the big leagues in 2015.