Last year, the Royals surprised a few people after drafting 23 year old Aaron Crow. Crow was perhaps the most MLB ready pitcher after Stephen Strasburg. This year, they pulled another fast one and drafted Christian Colon, a guy whose name was barely mentioned in the months and weeks leading up to the draft. But it was obvious that the Royals were ready to draft another college player. The Royals say that Colon was the most "MLB ready player in the draft". Experts say that he has Placido Polanco's skills with Derek Jeter's leadership. If so, then that works out pretty nicely for the Royals. Especially if Colon is in the big leagues within the next two years. Then in the 2nd round, they drafted another college player, Brett Eibner, a pitcher/outfielder from Arkansas. Once again, some saying a guy whose offense has him on the fast track to the big leagues, but he also has versatility. If he busts as an offensive player, the Royals can send him back to the minors to work on becoming a big league pitcher.
On to the 4th round, Royals drafted another college guy. Lefty Kevin Chapman from Florida. Yet another guy who is a hop, skip and jump away from the big leagues. After that, the Royals draft is flooded with guys who have played college ball. Of course, there are a few high schoolers thrown in the mix.
But make no doubt about it. The Royals think they can win. And they think they can win in the next two years. Think about it, in the next two years, and as early as Opening Day 2011, we will likely be seeing the major league debuts of Mike Moustakas, Mike Montgomery, Derrick Robinson, Aaron Crow, Edgar Osuna, Louis Coleman and Eric Hosmer. So, what did Dayton Moore do? He drafted guys that give the Royals the best chance of competing NOW.
And by now, I mean the very near future. Colon could be in the big leagues as early as next year (if they can get him signed quickly), Brett Eibner sounds like a two year project in the minors, whether or not the Royals decide to use him as a pitcher or outfielder.
The Royals didn't draft any big shockers or huge impact guys this draft. But they did draft guys who are definitely on the fast track to the big leagues. There are very few 4-5 year projects in the early rounds of this draft. There aren't any 1st-4th rounders who require that much time in the draft, with the exception of 3rd rounder high school SS Mike Antonio.
The Royals are loading their upper minors. Most of these guys will probably start off in Wilmington, putting them two or three years away. Some of them will finish the season in Northwest Arkansas and play in the Arizona Fall League.
I'm not saying get excited or buy your playoff tickets. But have faith. The front office seems to think that these guys are not the next crop of superstars, but rather those guys who will supplement the future superstars of Moustakas, Montgomery and Hosmer.
Because before Mike Moustakas hits that game tying double in the 9th inning, you need that guy who will leg out the infield hit or beat out the throw from left field on the hustle double. Because before Eric Hosmer hits the three-run homer to win the game, you need a guy to draw a walk and then single through the hole. Because before Mike Montgomery can win 20 games, you need solid bullpen guys to get the job done. Because before Aaron Crow can throw a shutout, you need that guy who goes deep into the hole at short to make the play.
Because before you can win a championship, you need a complete team.