ANAHEIM — The Royals say they didn’t necessarily plan to draft five college pitchers on Day 1 of the 2018 MLB Draft.
But it happened to work out that way on Monday, which could, however, sync those pitchers up with the Royals’ next wave of talented Minor Leaguers — position players such as Khalil Lee, Nick Pratto and MJ Melendez — who are developing in Class A ball.
“We wanted to make a concerted effort on getting some college pitching that we felt had high ceilings, and that could move quickly,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. “These are pitchers that we had history with, pitchers that we were comfortable with based on their makeup, their competitiveness. Also the fact that these guys pitched at a very high level against teams in the best conferences in the country.”
With their first pick — No. 18 overall — the Royals selected Florida junior right-hander Brady Singer, who ranks No. 2 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 200 Prospects list.
MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo called the selection of Singer “one of the steals of the first round,” and MLB Network’s Pedro Martinez labeled Singer the “safest pick of the Draft.”
Singer, who is 6-foot-5, 180 pounds, has an above-average fastball that can touch 95-96 mph, according to scouts.
MLB.com’s scouting report of him said: “Singer checks off all of the boxes teams are looking for out of a potential top pick. Long and lean, he has a terrific pitcher’s body that has thus far proven to be durable. He’ll throw his fastball … with plus life. His slider plays well off of his fastball, a second above-average pitch he manipulates in terms of depth and velocity. His changeup continues to improve and should give him a third above-average offering. He commands the ball well, gets high marks for his makeup and is a plus competitor.”
The Royals were thrilled Singer fell all the way to No. 18.
“I liked it,” Royals scouting director Lonnie Goldberg said. “We were obviously very surprised, but our guys did a heck of a job lining up the board, staying in communication with each other, players’ families, etc. Our scout had Brady, and he had him in high school, so that really helped. So we felt very fortunate we didn’t have to do a lot of digging at that point. We were very well-aware of the makeup of who we were taking about. So, obviously, very excited that Brady fell there.”
Singer was 11-1 with a 2.27 ERA and 98 strikeouts in 95 innings for Florida this season.
The Royals went after another Gator with the 33rd overall pick, a compensation selection for losing Lorenzo Cain to free agency, selecting right-hander Jackson Kowar.
Kowar is also a 6-foot-5 junior. His fastball can touch 98 mph and regularly sits in the mid-90s. Kowar was MLB Pipeline’s No. 15 prospect.
The Royals liked the idea of drafting teammates.
“The fact that they have worked together,” Golberg said, “competed against each other and made each other better — our only goal is they continue to do the same thing.”
With the 34th overall pick, compensation for losing Eric Hosmer to free agency, the Royals took Virginia left-hander Daniel Lynch, the No. 77 prospect per MLB Pipeline. Lynch has a plus-changeup with “pitchability,” according to scouts.
With the 40th overall pick, the Royals took yet another pitcher, Stanford senior left-hander Kris Bubic, ranked the No. 49 prospect by MLB Pipeline, which called Bubic’s changeup one of the best in the Draft.
And with their last pick on Day 1, the Royals took Memphis junior right-hander Jonathan Bowlan, who is 6-foot-6 and 262 pounds. Bowlan is No. 113 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 200 and can hit 97 mph with his fastball.
The Royals have the largest signing pool of any team at $12,781,900. They will have a allotment of $3,349,300 to sign Singer, $2,118,700 to sign Kowar, $2,066,700 to sign Lynch, $1,786,300 to sign Bubic and $1,168,300 to sign Bowlan.
The Draft continues on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 11:30 a.m. CT, with exclusive coverage beginning at noon.