KANSAS CITY — The Royals went heavy on college pitching in the last two MLB Drafts, and they did so again on Wednesday with their top pick, selecting left-hander Asa Lacy out of Texas A&M fourth overall.
But on Thursday the Royals took a stab at upside, selecting 18-year-old right-hander Ben Hernandez out of De La Salle Institute (Ill.) in the second round with the 41st overall pick.
Hernandez, at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, has committed to Illinois-Chicago University. The slot value for No. 41 is $1,813,500.
MLB Pipeline ranked Hernandez as the 72nd-best prospect in the Draft, saying, “The best pitcher in the inaugural Prospect Development Pipeline League, Hernandez spun six hitless innings over three outings while permitting just one walk and fanning seven. He also excelled at the Under Armour All-America Game, striking out the side in a perfect ninth inning.”
Hernandez boasts a fastball in the 90-95 mph range. Scouts suggest that his best pitch is his changeup, which has devastating fade. His third pitch is a slow curveball that he throws in the 70s.
Round 3, 76th overall: Tyler Gentry, OF, Alabama
The power-hitting Gentry was a JUCO transfer who helped Walters State (Tenn.) to the Junior College World Series in 2018. In the shortened ’20 season, the 6-foot-2, 210-pounder slashed .429/.554/.750.
Round 4, 105th overall: Christian Chamberlain, LHP, Oregon State
Chamberlain, 5-foot-10 and 173 pounds, can run his fastball up to 95 mph, but his swing-and-miss pitch is his 12-to-6 curveball. He had a 12/9 strikeout ratio at Oregon State.
Round 5, 135th overall: Will Klein, RHP, Eastern Illinois
Klein has the size (6-foot-5, 230 pounds) and power arm (95-99 mph) that could fit well in the Royals’ bullpen. His walk rate dropped from 9.8 per nine innings in his first two seasons to 4.8 this season. As a starter, his velo sat around 92-94, but scouts believe he could ramp that up to the upper 90s as a reliever.