The Kansas City Royals entered Monday night’s MLB Draft looking to replenish their farm system and build towards the future. That being said, there was still some uncertainty from the front office on which player to select with the No. 14 pick in the first round. As names began to fall off the board, the Royals made the decision to go with the best talent available in the draft. Aside from that pick, the club still had two other picks on day 1. Let’s evaluate the three selections the Royals made and what they offer in the future.
The high school first baseman from Huntington Beach, California, was clearly the best prospect remaining on the board and a proven winner. Pratto was a hero in the 2011 Little League World Series, giving California the championship with his walk-off hit single against Japan. At the start of his senior year, when he also played for the under-18 USA Team, Pratto garnered a lot of interest from scouts as both a left-handed pitcher and a first baseman.
The Royals believe that Pratto has a natural feel for the strike zone. Baseball America described Pratto is “a left-handed hitter with strike-zone awareness and plate discipline well beyond his years.” With some development in Minor League Ball, the organization believes he can gain more power, as well as become an above average defender at first base.
With the No. 52 pick overall, the Royals selected who they believed to be” the best catcher in the draft” in MJ Melendez. The high schooler out of Westminster Christian School in Florida, as been revered for his arm strength and ability behind the plate. One glaring issue with the left-handed batter is that his swing is not fully developed yet, causing some swings and misses. Even with some batting problems, getting a player with his potential at that spot in the draft is a great move.
The Royals selected Evan Steele, a left-handed pitcher with their No. 73 overall pick. The big, 6-foot-6 lefty started his college career at Vanderbilt but transferred to Chipola College, where he helped win the JUCO World Series in 2017. He went 5-0 with an outstanding 2.01 ERA in 40 1/3 innings this season. With a fastball that tops out at 95 mph, Steele held opponents to just a .208 batting average with 58 strikeouts. Finding a big left-hander who has a solid command of his breaking ball right out of college is fortunate, and the Royals feel as though they had a very good first day at the draft.