After Jonathan Gray and Mark Appel, the top college arm available in the draft is Nevada's Braden Shipley. Like Kyle Zimmer from a year ago, Shipley offers the benefit of being tested against college competition, but also has the limited wear on his arm thanks to the fact that he too is converted infielder. For better or for worse, the Royals organization prefers to develop arms themselves and as a converted infielder, they would have the opportunity to do so.
Shipley also offers the type of three pitch mix that the Royals organization prefers. He boasts a fastball that sits 93-96 sometimes touching 98, one of the draft's best change ups, and a work in progress curveball that should one day be an average offering. This is the mix that the Royals hammer into their young prospects and the same three pitch mix that excited the Royals enough to select Kyle Zimmer last June.
I am pretty confident that if Shipley is available to the Royals at eight they will select him. However, there are also rumors that both the Cleveland Indians and Miami Marlins are hot on the scent of the member of the non-Hangover Wolfpack. Many suspect Cleveland to go the route of Colin Moran, but Miami could be the snag. They are also said to be considered high school catcher Reese McGuire as well as Mississippi outfielder Hunter Renfroe.
Shipley isn't necessarily my top choice, but I do find him to be an attractive option. My fear is that if Shipley doesn't last until the Royals selection, they will be so locked in on pitching that they will reach deeper into their draft board and pass up on superior prospects. Outside of Gray and Appel, I see no other college pitching prospect worthy of a top 10 selection. In order to protect the Royals from themselves, it might be the safest bet to root for Shipley to slide.
Additional Note: In Bob Dutton's article regarding the draft in today's KC Star, he throws in this little nuggest...
"All signs, however, point to a preference for a pitcher unless one of two highly regarded prep outfielders from Georgia - Clint Frazier or Austin Meadows - unexpectedly remain on the board."This is the first connection between the Royals and those two players. I find it especially interesting, because based on my readings there is a strong chance that at least one of the two remains when the Royals are on the clock. It would be very surprising if Grey, Appel, Kris Bryant, or Kohl Stewart last past the top 5.Given that pretty consistently Shipley, Frazier, Meadows, and Moran have ranked as the next four prospects to go it seems likely that the Royals will have the opportunity to pick one of the four.
Based on the mock drafts that I have looked over, the next grouping of prospects are up in the air. So based off of industry consensus, the Royals find themselves in a decent spot of having the guaranteed opportunity to select one of the top 8 players in the draft. This brings me back to my initial fear; that Shipley will go in the top 7 and the Royals will reach for a pitcher in order to fit their pre-draft plan.