The Kansas City Royals have the No. 5 selection in the MLB Rule IV Draft for the second year in a row, although in 2012, they are predicted to go in the opposite direction as they did when they chose Bubba Starling. Rather than a high ceiling, high risk high school bat, the Royals are typically linked to college arms who can be ready sooner than later. Yet Keith Law has a bit of a curveball in his first mock of the year.
Law has the Royals selecting a position player after all with catcher Mike Zunino of Florida. He’s considered one of the better and safest college bats in the draft, but it’s also a draft class that’s one of the worst in terms of college hitters in some time. Thus Zunino is hardly an inspiring choice. Even Law seems non-committal in his mock choice.
Law writes, “I’ve heard them on [Kevin] Gausman, and every college arm, and of course, they’d look at [Byron] Buxton if he fell. They’ve also been camped out on hard-throwing prep right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. for his past few outings, when he has been peaking at just the right time.”
If the Royals can grab a near ML ready starting pitcher at the No. 5 position (and even in the second round as well), they should pull the trigger given their current needs at the major league level. They have other position players who are also promising, but an infusion of a reliable young arm would bolster the team considerably at the highest level. Think Trevor Bauer for the Diamondbacks.