The premise of this post is that the draft is mostly a crapshoot, even for those involved, let alone those of us scouring the internet for an edge in our dynasty leagues. I don’t have any informed opinions about any of the players involved, only years of attempts in reading the tea leaves of draft slot, bonus amounts, public scouting reports, and the uselessness of 90% of prep catchers. Always remember that teams need a ton of catchers, you don’t.
We also have a great archive of previous drafts, and how those guys turned out. I’m going to take a look at the 2017 Royals draft through that lens.
Pick 1.14 Nick Pratto, 1B, LHB, Huntington Beach Calif. HS, 18, (10/6/98).
This pick wasn’t widely heralded or panned, so it seems most commentators thought this was a fine place to take Pratto. He has already signed, to a deal at about 90% of slot value. Congrats, Nick.
Prep (and college) 1B are generally viewed as risky picks, as they have to REALLY hit to make the pick worthwhile, and can’t move any further down the defensive spectrum. It is also really rare for a kid good enough to get drafted to be stuck at the cold corner on his high school team, but that is the case with Pratto. He was also 1B on the Little League World Series team he hit the walk-off hit for in the 2011 LLWS. Given all that, I am going to ignore the Royals draft-day happy talk of him playing in the OF and assume Pratto is truly a 1B only.
I thought I’d look back at previous drafts to see how guys drafted as HS 1B turned out. I searched for prep 1B drafted 10-20 overall, and started looking in the 2007-2012 time frame so we would have a good idea how they turned out. There weren’t any. Huh.
Dom Smith was drafted 1.11 out of high school by the Mets in 2013, and is a hit-first guy. His stats look superficially nice at AAA this year, but 7 HR in a half-season at Las Vegas is uninspiring.
I went further back and was surprised at how rare a profile this is. From 2005-2012 there were ZERO prep 1B selected in the mid-first round. In fact, here is the entire list of prep 1B drafted in the first 20 picks since the year 2000:
1.01 Adrian Gonzalez (2000)
1.13 Casey Kotchman (2001)
1.07 Prince Fielder (2002)
1.19 James Loney (2002)
1.14 Billy Butler (2004) – ‘3B’
1.03 Eric Hosmer (2008)
1.11 Dom Smith (2013)
1.12 Josh Naylor (2015)
1.14 Nick Pratto (2017)
So the good news: none of those guys really bombed. If we focus on the mid-round range, you get Kotchman, Loney, and Butler. If Pratto has their careers this pick is a win, even if there is a always a whiff of slight disappointment at the (lack of) power.
And some video of Pratto’s glovework and swing:
Pick 2.52 M. J. Melendez, C, LHB, Westminster Christian School, Palmetto Bay FL, 18 (11/29/98).
Hey great, a prep catcher. He probably isn’t going to work out. The Royals obviously love him, and he is already signed for 162% of slot value (about $800,000 over).
I undertook the same exercise in draft history for Melendez, looking at prep catcher picks 40ish-60ish from 2007-2012:
Steve Bean StL 1s.59 ’12
Wyatt Mathisen Pit 2.69 ’12
Cam Gallagher KC 2.65 ’11 – pretty good year in AAA for KC in ’17!
Tommy Joseph SF 2.55 ’09
Travis d’Arnaud Phil 1s.37 ’07
How about if we look for over-slot second round guys?
Austin Hedges SD 2.82 ’11
JR Murphy NYY 2.76 ’09
Hedges was WAY over-slot, but this list ended up looking better than I thought it would. It is just going to take a while to find out.
Some in-game footage of Melendez:
2s.73 Evan Steele LHP Chipola FL JC
3.90 Daniel Tillo LHP Iowa Western JC
The Royals took a couple of JuCo lefties with picks 2s.73 and 3.90. Youneverknow.
4.120 Michael Gigliotti CF, LHB, Lipscomb, 20 (12/14/96)
Homered twice in his debut at Burlington. Power tool will determine if he can make it as a regular, so that is a great sign.
5.150 Charlie Neuweiler RHP, McClancy HS, East Elmhurst NY, 18 (2/8/99)
7.210 Brewer Hicklen OF RHB, UAB, 21 (2/9/96)
Super athletic WR from UAB, hit tool will be rough but this is a very Royals-y pick. They love these guys.
There will likely be other major leaguers from the rest of the Royals picks, but trying to predict who makes it or not has worse odds than an inside-straight draw. Not recommended.
Pratto, Melendez, and a couple of arms need to make it for this draft to work. Tune in to the 2023 draft recap to find out!
Featured Image Credit: Nick Pratto | Twitter