KANSAS CITY, Mo.—The Kansas City Royals completed the final day of the 2022 First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday, selecting 10 players to cap a three-day period in which they added 20 players to the organization.
The Royals first 17 picks were college players, surpassing 2018 (11) for the club record of consecutive college picks to begin a draft. Their final three picks were from the high school ranks to round out a draft class of 20 players, in which the Royals selected 12 pitchers, including eight right handers and four left handers. The Royals selected seven position players, six of which bat left handed. With their 20th and final pick, they selected a two-way player, who plays infield and pitches right handed.
In the 11th round (325th overall), Kansas City selected right-handed pitcher David Sandlin out of the University of Oklahoma. Sandlin, 21, went 9-4 with 102 strikeouts in 95.0 innings this season, leading the Sooners to the College World Series finals. On June 22, he recorded 12 strikeouts over 7.0 innings to beat Texas A&M and advance to the finals. He also struck out 10 over 7.0 innings in the Big 12 Tournament vs. Kansas State, just five days after his sister, Holli, passed away of cancer. Sandlin began his college career at Eastern Oklahoma State College and went 9-2 in 13 appearances (11 starts) there as a sophomore in 2021.
With their 12th pick (355th overall), the Royals selected shortstop Jack Pineda from Baylor University. He announced last month that he planned to transfer to LSU for next season, after hitting .300 (68-for-227) with 56 runs, 27 extra-base hits (.893 OPS) and 35 RBI at Baylor this year, while playing all 54 games at shortstop. At two seasons with Baylor, he slashed .313/.410/.498 with 108 runs and 50 extra-base hits in 105 games, including a .327 average in 2021. He began his college career at the College of Southern Nevada, where he hit .350 as a freshman in 2019 and .369 as a sophomore in 2020.
In the 13th round (385th overall), Kansas City selected left-handed pitcher Ryan Ramsey out of the University of Maryland. He was named First-Team All-Big Ten this season and went 11-1 with a 3.22 ERA (33 ER in 92.1 IP) in 16 appearances (15 starts), finishing with the 2nd-most wins in a single season in school history. One of those wins came on April 29 vs. Northwestern, when he recorded the second perfect game in school history and the 20th 9-inning no-hitter in NCAA history. He was selected by Cleveland in the 36th round of the 2019 Draft out of Pascack Hills High School (N.J.), where he was named New Jersey Pitcher of the Year as a senior after leading his school to back-to-back state titles.
With their 14th pick (415th overall), the Royals selected right-handed pitcher Ben Sears from the University of Houston. Sears, 22, went 6-3 with a 3.11 ERA (23 ER in 66.2 IP) in 33 appearances (1 start) this season, and led the ACC with 12 saves. He began his college career at The Community College of Rhode Island, where he was the team captain in 2020 and had 23 strikeouts in 11.1 innings. He was named Rhode Island’s Gatorade Player of the Year in 2018, when he went 8-2 with a 1.07 ERA as a senior at East Providence High School.
In the 15th round (445th overall), Kansas City selected Javier Vaz, an outfielder out of Vanderbilt University. He hit .280 (44-for-157) in 51 games this season with a .402 on-base percentage, .893 OPS and more walks (29) than strikeouts (17). His college career began at LSU Eunice Junior College, where he hit .364 in 2019 and led the Bengals to a 51-8 record and a Region 23 championship. At LSU Eunice, Javier played for his father, Roberto Vaz, who was Oakland’s seventh-round pick in 1997 out of Alabama.
With their 16th pick (475th overall), the Royals selected left-handed pitcher Cooper McKeehan from Brigham Young University. McKeehan, 21, had a 1.57 ERA (4 ER in 23.0 IP) with 41 strikeouts (16.0 K/9) in 23 relief appearances as a junior this season. He also excelled in the Cape Cod League this year, recording 9.2 scoreless innings over 5 appearances, in which he had 13 strikeouts with just 1 walk and 2 hits allowed.
In the 17th round (505th overall), Kansas City selected left-handed pitcher Chazz Martinez out of the University of Oklahoma, where he was teammates with the Royals 11th-round pick, David Sandlin. Martinez went 4-3 with 1 save in 22 appearances (8 starts) this year and recorded 14 strikeouts vs. Northwestern on Feb. 27, which earned him Dick Howser Trophy National Pitcher of the Week and Big 12 Pitcher of the Week honors. He was selected by Pittsburgh in the 12th round last season out of Orange Coast College (Calif.), where he was a two-way player, batting .279 with 8 HR at the plate, while holding opponents to a .189 average on the mound with 44 strikeouts in 38.0 innings. He began his college career in 2019 at UC Santa Barbara. His brother, Renae Martinez, was Arizona’s 33rd-round pick in 2017 and reached Triple-A with the Diamondbacks last season.
With their 18th pick (535th overall), the Royals selected Milo Rushford, an outfielder out of Walden Grove High School (Ariz.). He was named First-Team All-State Offensive Player of the Year this season after batting .613 (57-for-93) with 24 extra-base hits (9 HR) and 40 RBI in 30 games. He was also the Class of 2022 valedictorian at Walden Grove, graduating with a 4.66 GPA. Rushford, 18, is committed to play baseball at New Mexico State.
In the 19th round (565th overall), Kansas City selected Tommy Szczepanski, a right-handed pitcher out of Garber High School (Mich.). He recorded a 0.44 ERA with 91 strikeouts in 48.0 innings (17.1 K.9) in 8 appearances (7 starts) during his senior season, and led Garber to the Tri-Valley East championship, where he threw a shutout with 16 strikeouts. Szczepanski was committed to play baseball at the University of Michigan, before de-committing following a coaching change.
With their 20th and final pick (595th overall), the Royals selected infielder/right-hander pitcher Austin Charles out of Stockdale High School (Calif.). A two-way player, Charles was ranked No. 109 on MLB’s Top 250 Draft Prospect List and is committed to play baseball at UC Santa Barbara. He batted .483 during his senior season and led California high school players with 13 HR and 57 RBI, while recording a 1.36 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 46.1 innings on the mound. His brother, Art Charles, was drafted three times, including by Kansas City in the 39th round in 2009, but signed with Toronto as a 20th-round pick in 2010.