Sitting just a week and half away from the 2012 draft, the Kansas City Royals find themselves likely to select a right-handed college pitcher from the trio of LSU's Kevin Gausman, San Francisco's Kyle Zimmer, or Stanford's Mark Appel. Of course if high school outfielder Byron Buxton out of Baxley, Georgia somehow falls to number five, the Royals may be faced with the decision of possibly reaching on another pitcher or taking the possible best player available. That is what happened last year when the top group of pitchers went earlier than anticipated, and the Royals selected local product Bubba Starling fifth overall.
I expect the Royals to likely choose LSU's Kevin Gausman if he is there with the fifth pick. The sophomore was drafted in the sixth round of the 2010 draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers out of high school in Centennial, Colorado. His top pitches include a four-seam fastball that sits in the mid 90's and can hit as high as 98 currently, along with a low 90's two-seam fastball. He also throws an above average change-up, and will mix in the occasional curve and slider. His fastball will be his ticket up an organization's chain, and his off speed pitches are what he will have to fine tune to keep advancing.
You can view a lengthy scouting video of Gausman via youtube. Also you can read his LSU bio on the school's website. Royals General Manager Dayton Moore does have a past history with LSU pitchers, as the organization selected Louis Coleman in the fifth round during the 2009 draft.
Personally, I may be jaded when it comes to selecting Stanford pitchers as Drew Storen is the only former Cardinal pitcher who has been selected to find true success at the major league level since Mike Mussina. You may remember former Royals such as Tony Cogan and Jeff Austin, who were also former Stanford pitchers.
Appel, who also throws a mid 90's fastball that reaches 98, is a 6'5" pitcher that definitely looks the part. His second pitch is likely going to be his slider. You can view his scouting video here.
Zimmer, who really only has been pitching full-time for two seasons, is 6'4" and 220 lbs. His fastball will hit 99, and he also has a solid curveball to go with it. From what I have heard and read, he's a definite strike thrower. One of his bullpen warmups can be seen here.
While a college pitcher generally doesn't feature the same upside potential as taking a high school pitcher, Kansas City needs help with pitching (obviously) and should be looking for pitching help that is closer to the majors. The organization certainly has talent in the lower minor leagues, but beyond Jake Odorizzi and still waiting on Mike Montgomery to finally "get it", the Royals need someone on the horizon that can rise quickly.
Look for more continued draft coverage as we get closer to the draft. We'll be covering the first round June 4th, and the first full day of the draft on June 5th live on the site all day.
Also make sure to head over to Royals Review for more draft talk in the coming week.