One of the most underrated baseball sites on the web is Hardball Times, so a look at their latest mock draft is essential pre-draft reading for me. And a closer look at the Kansas City Royals selection at No. 5 in the 2011 MLB Draft brings a new name alongside a familiar one for KC fans to consider in Matt Barnes.
Barnes is a 6-3, 203 lb. righty for UConner who has a nasty curve and is considered one of the top college pitchers in the draft. ESPN's Keith Law has him at No. 9 in his Top 100 prospects for the draft, and he'd also match that fast rising college pitcher the Royals have been rumored to be looking for. Then again, Hardball Times also can't let go of the Bubba Starling rumors either.
After some consideration, HT's Vince Caramela goes with Starling. He writes:
If Seattle decides to pass on Rendon, then this choice is simple. The team has also flirted with Trevor Bauer from UCLA as well as Lindor. With no other picks until after the compensation round, I’m guessing it will come down to either Barnes or a high-end bat. I’m guessing offense wins out. Scouts drool at Starling's 6-foot-4 frame and unlimited athleticism but do know that he is very raw and there is no guarantee that he will develop into the all-star caliber bat many are hoping as he "learns" against advanced pitching.
At least Barnes is a new name to the conversation that already includes Starling, Gerritt Cole (if he falls), Trevor Bauer and others. The Royals have their pick of several strong talents, so this is hopefully going to be a good choice any way they go.