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The Royals were pleased Florida’s Friday night ace Singer dropped to their first pick at No. 18 overall. After pitching deep into the College World Series, Singer waited until three days before the deadline to sign for $4.25 million, nearly a $1 million over slow. Singer posting a 21-8 record over the last two seasons in Florida’s rotation, and the Royals envision a starter with a durable body, competitive makeup and a strong will to win. He flashes two plus pitches delivered with a lower arm slot, with a fastball sitting in the low- to mid-90s along and a sharp slider. He didn’t use his changeup much in college, but it should eventually be at least an average pitch.
Lee made it to Double-A by his 20th birthday in just his second full season. He made tremendous strides as a hitter this year, cutting down on strikeouts to go with his always solid plate discipline. The key factor was an ability to cut down on his swing with two strikes and instead being willing to take a single to the opposite field. That change as well as the larger ballparks of the Carolina League have suppressed his home run totals, but there’s still plenty of power waiting to emerge. Lee is also showing better aptitude on the bases, having been successful on 14 of 17 stolen base attempts at high Class Wilmington before his promotion.
Kansas City made it two Florida starters in a row in the first round when they followed the selection of Brady Singer at pick 18 by taking Gator rotation-mate Kowar at No. 33. He signed just before the deadline for a $2,147,500 bonus. With a tall, slender frame, Kowar should add velocity to his current low- to mid-90s fastball with clean arm action, complementing it with a plus slider. The first item for Kowar’s development will be to settle on which breaking ball to use, needing to improve the quality and consistency of either his slider or curveball.
Lopez continues to defy the ever-diminishing pool of doubters who don’t think the Creighton product is durable enough and strong enough to impact the baseball, reaching Triple-A in only his second full season. He immediately showed he wasn’t intimidated at that level, getting four hits in his first game with Omaha. Lopez a smart ballplayer who knows his swing, understands the strike zone and has good control of the barrel. On the field he’s always in position to make the plays and his average arm is good for either middle infield position.
Like 2017 draft-mate Pratto, Melendez skipped a level moving right into full-season ball to start 2018. He’s shown impressive power at Lexington, with 12 home runs through the end of June. He’s already a solid defender but has been working with Royals catching coordinator J.C. Boscan to further refine his skills behind the plate. Melendez has a good aptitude at the plate and shows the ability to learn during at-bats.
Matias possesses a higher ceiling than any other position player in the Royals organization, but also carries a higher degree of risk. The native Dominican came into the season more relaxed and confident, and the results have been impressive as he leads the minor leagues with 26 home runs. He grades as a fringy to below-average hitter with a 37 percent strikeout rate, an unsustainable number. His plus raw power will play and his plus-plus arm makes him a prototypical right fielder and if can make enough contact.
Drafted in the first round last year, He has not yet put up big numbers as a pro, raising questions by some observers whether as to whether his bat will play at first base. Royals officials project Pratto to be a solid-average to plus hitter in time with at least average game power, but it’s coming slowly. The biggest issue this year is his high number of strikeouts, but at 19 he’s young for the level and is working hard on necessary improvements. He has average range at first base and the hands work well there.
The Royals continued their run on college arms at the top of the 2018 draft, selecting Lynch one pick after Kowar. The Virginia product has average stuff across the board a four-pitch repertoire, with the stuff playing up because of his intelligence and above-average control. He drops to his backside in his delivery, but it’s not as noticeable because of his height. He projects as an effective back-of-the-rotation innings-burner.
Bubic thrived in the number Np. 2 role in his junior year at Stanford, posting an 8-1 record, 2.62 ERA behind Tristan Beck. The Royals made him their fourth pick on day one of the draft, taking the big-bodied southpaw in Compensation Round A and signing him for $1,597,500. Bubic’s money pitch is a changeup that flashes plus, along with an average low-90s fastball and an average or better curveball. He projects as a durable back-of-the-rotation starter.
Staumont has jumped between the rotation and the bullpen this season, continuing to tantalize with a plus fastball that jumps out of his hand, sitting 91-97 mph. He’s been more confident this year, attacking hitters and filling the zone better. His power curveball is a plus pitch when he commands it. Staumont’s stuff is too good to not give him every chance to succeed as a starting pitcher, but some observers still think he’ll eventually wind up being a power arm at the back of the Royals bullpen because his control remains poor.
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