The amateur Major League Baseball Draft took place about 12 days ago, and it was great to see so many area players get their named called.
For many of these young men it was a dream come true. They have spent their entire young lives dreaming about getting an opportunity to play in the majors.
The draft for baseball is much different than the drafts for the NFL, NBA and NHL. Most of the early draft picks in those professional sports are young men who will have an immediate chance to play at the pro level. In baseball, the players drafted out of high school and who sign with a major league franchise must first go through the minors and begin to master the art of playing the game.
Not many kids just out of high school have gone directly the big leagues. It takes time to understand how to play the game, even for the greatest baseball talent. There are a million things to learn about the sport and become comfortable with before moving through the minor leagues to the major league level.
Imagine a high school age student at bat with a 100-mph fastball with movement. If a player is drafted out of college they have had more experience and are more physically mature. The guys who have played 2-3 years in college may have less of a developmental window than a guy out of high school.
The draft this year was interesting for the Royals. It is obvious that the organization is in a rebuild mode from the bottom up. They drafted five young arms. They also made a good move to trade Jon Jay to the Arizona Diamondbacks for two highly regarded young pitching prospects. That gives the Royals organization seven young arms to develop in their minor league system.
I heard many complaints that the Royals really needed to pick up some young position players to get back into the thick of things. That may be true but to have a strong major league franchise, you must start with pitching. This Royals franchise is bare-boned with major league pitching prospects.
While at spring training, that was apparent.
GM Dayton Moore and his staff understands and seems to be dedicated to locating young arms. The talk about town is which players will be traded off this year as the trade deadline approaches. Most likely only Salvador Perez will be off limits. Great catchers are as hard to find as great pitchers.
The three guys who are most likely to bring the Royals their best return are Kelvin Herrera, Mike Moustakas and Whit Merrifield. If the organization can get quality young players at any position for any of these three guys, it is time to make the deal. Of the three, the one I would most like to see stay is Merrifield. He is a complete player who can play up the middle. He can play both second base and centerfield. In case of an emergency he could even fill in at shortstop. He is a consistent .290 to .300 hitter who can steal 30 to 40 bases. He has pop in his bat for a speed player. Plus, he plays the game the right way. The one problem is that he is 29 years old. That sounds young but the years that he played in college will shorten his time as a major league player.
Moose would be good for one of the power teams like the Yankees or Red Sox. If either of those teams needs more power, Moose is their guy. Moose is hoping for a big contract and he deserves a shot.
A sure trade bet would be Herrera. Many teams will need relief pitching at the trade deadline to make a run at the playoffs. Let’s hope that Herrera can bring younger and talented arms for the future of the franchise.
I do not believe Moore and his staff will trade guys just to trade them. He knows he has limited bargaining power and every deal must be with the future of the club in mind. Of the seven pitchers who have already been drafted or traded for at least three or four of them need to make it for the team to be competitive within the next five years.
The two key players who need to be ready to play next year are Bubba Starling and Adalberto Mondesi. If they can not make next year’s major league roster, they might be deemed a bust and would leave huge holes to fill.
With baseball you never know who will develop during the minors and end up contributing to the big-league team. It was fun to watch Moose, Hosmer, Dyson and others work their way up together and win a title. It will take time and a lot of right moves to repeat that process again but that is part of our love for the game.
• My quote of the week comes from the great and unappreciated Hall of Fame baseball player Frank Robinson: “Whether you’re trying to excel in athletics or any other field, always practice. Look, listen, learn – and practice, practice, practice. There is no substitute for work, no shortcuts to the top.”
– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.