A look at the Royals inability to find and produce talent

The Royals have been so bad for so long, but why is this so? They have not made the playoffs since the mid-80’s when they won the 1985 World Series. Since then, they have had 17 losing seasons and have had 100+ losses in four of those seasons. The Tampa Bay Rays were in a similar struggle after finishing in the AL East cellar in every year except for one leading up to the 2008 season where they made a World Series appearance seemingly out of nowhere. So how can a franchise like Tampa Bay do a complete 180 while the Royals continue to fail? Well, it all starts on draft day. When you are a small market team and your franchise is struggling the only answer is to produce and find great talent through the draft.

Lets look at who the Royals and Rays picked in the first round in each draft from 2000-2008. We won’t use the 2009 draft because many have not reached the majors yet.

2000 Draft:
Royals picked #4 and selected Mike Stodolka, P, HS
Rays picked #6 and selected Rocco Baldelli, OF, HS

Notable players selected after #4: Adam Wainwright, Chase Utley, and Sean Burnett who is a lefty specialist currently in the Nationals pen.

2001 Draft:
Royals picked #9 and selected Colt Griffin, P, HS
Rays picked #3 and selected Dewon Brazelton, P, Middle Tennessee State

Notable players selected after #3: Mark Teixiera, Gavin Floyd, Jeremy Bonderman, Casey Kotchman, and Mike Fontenot, and Aaron Heilman.

2002 Draft:
Royals picked #6 and selected Zach Grienke, P, HS
Rays picked #2 and selected B.J. Upton, OF, HS

Notable players selected after #2: Prince Fielder, Jeff Francis, Denard Span, James Loney, Nick Swisher, Cole Hamels, Scott Kazmir, Joe Saunders, Jeff Francouer, Matt Cain, and Joe Blanton.

2003 Draft:
Royals picked #5 and selected Christopher Lubanski, OF, HS
Rays picked #1 and selected Delmon Young, OF, HS

Notable players selected after #1: Rickie Weeks, Nick Markakis, John Danks, Ian Stewart, Chad Cordero, Carlos Quentin, Aaron Hill, Connor Jackson, Chad Billingsley and Paul Maholm.

2004 Draft:
Royals picked #14 and #29 and selected Billy Butler, 1B, HS and Matthew Campbell, P, HS
Rays picked #4 and selected Jeff Niemann, P, Rice

Notable players selected after #4: Jered Weaver, Stephen Drew and Phil Hughes.

2005 Draft:
Royals picked #2 and selected Alex Gordon, 3B, Nebraska
Rays picked #8 and selected Wade Townsend, P, Dripping

Notable players selected after #2: Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Ricky Romero, Troy Tulowitzki, Mike Pelfrey, Cameron Maybin, Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Colby Rasmus.

2006 Draft:
Royals picked #1 and selected Luke Hochevar, P, Tennessee
Rays picked #3 and selected Evan Longoria, 3B, Long Beach State

Notable players selected after #1: Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum, Max Scherzer, Travis Snider, Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek, and Ian Kennedy.

2007 Draft:
Royals picked #2 and selected Mike Moustakas, 3B, HS
Rays picked #1 and selected David Price, P, Vanderbilt

Notable players selected after #1: Matt Wieters, Madison Bumgarner, Jason Heyward, and Rick Porcello.

2008 Draft:
Royals picked #3 and selected Eric Hosmer, 1B, HS
Rays picked #1 and selected Tim Beckham, SS, HS

Notable players selected after #1: Brian Matusz, Buster Posey, Pedro Alvarez, Gordon Beckham, Ike Davis, and Justin Smoak.

The 2000 draft was a larger swing and miss for the Royals than it was for the Rays. Mike Stodolka is still in the minors and is almost 30 years old. He is not doing poorly there as he has a triple slash line of .287/.394/.444, but he is playing against competition that is much younger and less experienced than he is. The Rays selected Rocco Baldelli who was at least able to give his team some major league service time. The 2000 draft was a fairly shallow one. In 2001, both teams failed but the Royals could have had Gavin Floyd instead of Colt Griffin who is a mediocre player in the minor leagues. The 2002 draft would have been an embarrassing one to miss a nice piece of talent on since this draft was so deep. Both teams were able to get nice talent here. The 2003 draft had some very nice players but no superstar came out of this first round class. Christopher Lubanski is yet another Royals draft pick to not make the major leagues and he is currently playing in AAA Las Vegas in the Blue Jays organization. Meanwhile, the Rays at least got some service time out of Delmon Young. The 2004 class was another shallow one and both teams got good pieces. Billy Butler is probably one of the Royals best hitter and Jeff Niemann has been solid for the Rays this year. I consider the 2005 draft a fail for both teams because Alex Gordon has been one of the biggest busts in this draft but at least he was able to make the majors. Alex Gordon is an example of someone who absolutely dominated the minor leagues but could not put a solid season together in the major leagues. He has struggled with numerous injuries as well. Also, Wade Townsend= complete fail so don’t feel too bad Royals fans, the Rays failed too. However it is a shame because this draft class was almost as deep as the 2002 class and the Royals and Rays were two of the few teams who missed some nice talent here. However, the Rays would make up for it in the 2006-2008 drafts by selecting the best 3B in the game in Evan Longoria, David Price, and Tim Beckham while the Royals selected Luke Hochevar, Mike Moustakas, and Eric Hosmer. The Luke Hochevar selection in 2006 leaves you scratching your head and wondering what Royals scouts saw in him when Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer and Tim Lincecum were left on the board. David Price is dealing at the major league level while Moustakas is struggling in AA. The Rays made outstanding picks in these three drafts and coincidentally, this is when the Rays got a lot better as a team.

So is there a correlation here? Probably.

I also want you to note where the Royals draft picks were drafted from. Eight out of ten Royals prospects were drafted out of High School. Only four Rays prospects were drafted out of high school. Maybe these players were very misleading because they were playing against competition that was extremely inferior to the major leagues or even the minor leagues. Ironically though, the two Royals picks that did go to college probably turned out the best for the Royals. Even though Hochevar and Gordon haven’t produced much, at least they made it out of the minor leagues. It looks like the Rays suddenly learned how to draft after that horrible Wade Townsend pick.

So maybe the Royals organization should take a lesson from the Rays organization. Try drafting players coming out of college unless the said player is an absolute stud and has extremely high upside from the majority of scouts in high school like Jason Heyward or Justin Upton. Otherwise, don’t take the chance. Until the Royals learn how to draft, they will continue to suck.

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2 Comments on “A look at the Royals inability to find and produce talent”

  1. Bob Says:

    This article is garbage. Moustakas is struggling at AA, really? ALex Gordon is one of the biggest busts of the 2005 draft? Yeah, okay, whatever. If he were allowed to play for the Royals he’d be one of their top 3 hitters. He is absolutely destroying AAA and would be an improvement over the collection of stiffs the Royals roll out at the MLB level every night.

    • Disco Says:

      A disagreement in opinion doesn’t make an article trash. Now if you disagree with how research was conducted, etc, thats a different story.

      Because I do agree with you about Gordon- maybe not a top 3 hitter of theirs, although it is possible with that lineup- but he can be an everyday player. But the actual article is alright.


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