Royals Look to Win the MLB Draft

The 2014 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft is upon us and the Kansas City Royals are looking to build a strong future around franchise players Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez.

Kansas City has certainly proved that they are in a win now mentality the past two seasons by acquiring big name players such as James Shields and Wade Davis. With the Royals looking to get over the hump and into the postseason, they plan to use the MLB Draft to add some depth to the clubhouse.

One of the Royals most glaring needs coming into this year's MLB Draft is a true power hitter. Let's face it, the Royals haven't had any serious big boppers since the early 2000s when Carlos Beltran and Jermaine Dye were in the starting lineup. In fact, Dye was the last Royal to blast 30+ homeruns in a season when he did so in 2000. With Kansas City currently sitting dead last in the league with 25 homeruns in 57 games, it's easy to see why the Boys In Blue could use some pop.

Below is a list of positional needs the Royals must address in this year's draft in order to give their organization the best chance at a positive future. They are listed in order with "1" being the most important positional need to be filled.

1. Third Baseman- The Royals haven't been able to find a consistent everyday third baseman over the past few years. It's been a mess this season with manager Ned Yost constantly rotating Mike Moustakas, Danny Valencia, and Pedro Ciriaco into the starting lineup. Moustakas clearly has the most experience of the three, but his numbers have been on the decline since his best season in 2012 when he hit .242 with 20 homeruns and 73 runs batted in. There is proof of uncertainty with Moose, as he was sent down to the minors on May 22. Third base is typically a position where you would like to see productive power numbers. I think if the Royals can find a player in this draft that they can develop into a consistent 25 homerun and 80 RBI guy, they will be set.

2. Second Baseman- Omar Infante was a nice pickup for the Boys In Blue in the offseason. With that being said, he has spent time out of the lineup twice this season with injury. When Infante isn't in the lineup, the Royals had to rely on Johnny Giavotella and Pedro Ciriaco who haven't had much Major League level experience. Kansas City could certainly add a top prospect at the second base position.

3. Starting Pitcher- I don't care how good your rotation is, there is always a need for starting pitchers. Kansas City's starting rotation has been their key to success this season and last. They posted the 5th best ERA in the American League last season with a mark of 3.87. With that being said, there is uncertainty whether or not James Shields will be back in a Royals uniform next season as his two year contract will be up. Yordano Ventura has some of the most electric stuff in the majors with a fastball that has touched 104 mph. Throwing that hard always has it's downfall though. Ventura has to be careful his 180 pound frame can handle all that torque. Danny Duffy is another young Royals pitcher who has made a splash in the big leagues. At times this season Duffy has been superb only allowing a combined two hits in 13 innings against the Baltimore Orioles and St. Louis Cardinals. He has also had starts where he hasn't looked so good. Including two outings where he allowed a combined 10 earned runs in 10 innings. Jeremy Guthrie has also been a bit shaky as he leads the league in homeruns allowed with 13 this season. Kansas City has a solid complete rotation, but with uncertain contracts, possible injury prone pitchers and signs of inconsistency, it would be wise for the Royals to load up on some pitchers in the draft.

4. Rightfielder- Kansas City tried to fill a void in right field with the addition of Norichika Aoki. He had an impressive .287 batting average during his two years as a Milwaukee Brewer. Yost has consistently inserted Aoki into the leadoff role with high expectations. Unfortunately, Aoki hasn't quite performed up to his standards, only batting .259. Maybe his performance this season has been a fluke, but with the lack of depth in rightfield behind him, it would be smart for the Royals to look to add a few outfielders in this draft.

5 Centerfielder- When healthy, Lorenzo Cain can be a very dangerous hitter in this league. He is hitting a sizzling .328 in his 2014 campaign. Cain's only downfall is his inability to keep himself in the lineup. He has only appeared in a combined 176 games over the past two full seasons. When Cain isn't in the lineup, the Royals have failed to find much production from anyone else who has been inserted in the position. Jarrod Dyson is fun to watch as he is one of the fastest players in baseball. With that being said, he is a lifetime .255 hitter with only 38 RBI in 670 career at bats. Cain is certainly a reliable starting centerfielder when healthy but since he's injury prone, the Royals could certainly have a need to draft another player to guide the outfield.

6. Designated Hitter- Billy Butler began his career strong hitting over .300 in three of his first six seasons. During that span Butler also topped 90 rbi three times while also being selected as an all-star in 2012 with numbers reading (.313 BA, 29 HR, 107 RBI). During the past two seasons however his numbers have dropped off. This year Butler has only hit one homerun with 21 RBI in 207 at bats. For a one tool player, Butler needs to improve dramatically in order to bring a positive impact to his team. High schools and colleges don't typically have players who are solely designated hitters, but the Royals could look to drafting a player in the later rounds who can hit with power who may not quite have the defensive skills to play an everyday position.

The Royals hope the 2014 MLB Draft can help them scratch an itch that has been bothering them since their last postseason appearance in 1985.


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