Without a doubt, the Royals’ No.1 pick (and No.2 overall), Bobby Witt, Jr., may be the most high profile draft pick in a while. And that means something, considering how bad the last two years have been for Royals nation. There needs to be some hope for the future, and while Brady Singer and Adalberto Mondesi can generate some hope, the Royals fanbase needs to see that future superstar on the horizon that can make Kansas City a relevant baseball city once again.
As crazy as this sounds, the Royals’ selection of Witt, Jr. may surpass Dayton Moore’s previous “high profile” selections in Eric Hosmer (2008 No. 3 overall pick) or Mike Moustakas (2007 No. 2 overall pick) in terms of organizational impact. I do understand that says something about Witt Jr.’s reputation, considering how well those two draft picks worked out for the Royals (i.e. two AL pennants and a World Series title). But considering all the buzz from prospect experts and Royals fans over the past couple of weeks leading into the draft, I highly doubt any Royals prospect came into the draft with as much hope and hype as Witt.
Let’s take a look at some of the raves about the possibly franchise-building shortstop out of Texas.
Witt was named Gatorade’s National High School Player of the Year for hitting .489 with 15 home runs this year, leading his school to their first ever state tournament. Witt has been on the radar ever since impressing as one of the youngest players to participate in the Under Armour All-American Game. He is committed to the University of Oklahoma next year, but seems likely to go pro instead.Matthew Lamar and Max Rieper of “Royals Review”
He’s fundamentally sound up the middle, with a quick exchange and the requisite enough arm strength to make the plays in the hole. He’s got a quick right-handed swing with the ability to impact the baseball to all fields. Witt’s speed gives him a fifth tool that has flashed above average or better, producing double-plus home-to-first times in the 4.00-to-4.10 range. He’s committed to Oklahoma, but at this early stage in 2019 draft cycle the name on the roster is in pencil rather than ink, with Witt roundly considered to be one of the top prep talents in the country and a likely top-of-the draft selection.Burke Granger of “2080 Baseball”
Witt Jr. is a potential five-tool player that could move quickly through system. During his senior season at Colleyville (TX) High School, he has been sensational. In a little over 100 plate appearances, he is slashing .576/.650/1.223 with 11 HR and 38 RBI. He generates good bat speed which leads to some good power numbers, and as he continues to grow more game power should come along with the raw…The combination of potential value from the bat and the glove make Witt Jr. an intriguing prospect and one that could go early in the first round, most likely in the top five. He will move into a farm system and will probably be a top 50 prospect nationally out of the gate.Joel Penfield of “Royals Farm Report”
Witt Jr. may not be a slam dunk pick, or at least as not as much as Adley Rutschman, who was a proven and polished college hitter. But in terms of high school prospects, nobody came close to Witt Jr. combination of talent and pedigree. When you look at his skills, especially on tape or in person, he looks like he can be budding five tool superstar at the Major League level.
And if that’s not enough, Witt’s makeup appears to be off the charts. He comes from a MLB family; he has a good work ethic; he has a humble, growth-mindset demeanor. Witt Jr. at the end of the day seems to be the rare combination of skills and intangible, i.e. the complete package as far as a MLB Draft prospect is concerned.
As a Royals fan, Witt Jr. without a doubt will be the anointed messiah of this new “era” Dayton Moore is trying to establish. With the Hosmer-Moustakas core gone, Alex Gordon near retirement, and Hunter Dozier and Adalberto Mondesi in dire need of help in the lineup, Witt Jr. will represent a lot of things to Royals fans. He will represent a savior. He will represent an offensive and defensive machine. He will represent a 180 in terms of competitiveness. And most importantly, he will represent that a future star can and perhaps will stay in Kansas City for the long haul, perhaps to KC and the Midwest what Mike Trout is to Orange County and Anaheim.
Maybe that’s wishful thinking of course. Witt Jr. hasn’t even played a game yet in the Royals organization overall, let alone the Royals. But there is a lot to like about Witt, and there’s a lot of reason and justification to hope that he, and this 2019 draft class, can turn things around for a Royals club, that to be honest, is pretty shitty right now. Brad Keller may be the Royals best pitcher…just sink that in for a moment.
The Witt Jr. era can’t come soon enough. It was nice to see him excited to begin his career in the Royals organization, even if he is a Southwestern and Texas guy at heart.
Welcome to Kansas City, Bobby. We hope you enjoy the friendly confines and the BBQ (Slap’s FTW!). Royals fans are only hoping you turn around our fortunes, and Royals management (Dayton Moore especially) are hoping you save their jobs.
No pressure or anything…