Anyone discussing words like "sure thing" when it comes to the Major League Baseball draft is likely to draw laughs from fans who follow the sport, knowing that the number of busts from the first-round seems higher than any other sport. Some of the greatest stars in baseball were signed as undrafted free agents or lower round selections, so front offices know that while these top picks are valuable, they also need to scour everywhere for any and all available talent for help. But given the penchant for unearthing impact players near the top of the draft by Dayton Moore and his scouting team, perhaps Royals fans have more reason to be excited than others.
The Royals hold another Top Five selection in this June's 2011 MLB Draft and the word is that the Royals are not looking for another high-upside prospect. Instead, the Royals are looking for a safer draft selection who could help in the starting rotation at the major league level sooner than later. That means a proven college arm with not only a strong record of success but health is the most likely candidate for the Royals.
With the continued struggles with their current starting rotation, whoever gets chosen might get a fast track to the majors -- perhaps starting as high as AA Northwest Arkansas. Sean O'Sullivan just went on the DL and was struggling anyway. Vin Mazzaro came over in the miserable David DeJesus trade and tanked just six weeks into the season. Luke Hochevar can't turn the corner and only cheap free agent signings like Jeff Francis or Bruce Chen offer any signs of life -- not exactly the stuff of a team on the rise.
The prospects are on the way, of course, but they will inevitably go through their own growing pains. Danny Duffy has been decent and will stay, but fellow top pitching prospect Mike Montgomery is struggling at AAA Omaha. The Royals have others in play but another strong rotational arm would help solidify things in KC at just the right time. After all, such a prospect would match the organizational timeline for being competitive in the AL Central once again.