The Final Countdown...Draft just hours away!

Well, we had planned something of a last hurrah Draft Prospect Update, but it's become increasingly clear that the Royals have narrowed their choices down to two college pitchers -- North Carolina's Andrew Miller and Houston's Brad Lincoln. Both are outstanding young pitchers with Major League stuff, and any team in baseball would be lucky to have either.

While Miller certainly wasn't very impressive when we saw him on Sunday, it really isn't fair to judge him on the basis of one mediocre outing in an important game. He had some very good starts this season against some quality offenses like Georgia Tech and NC State (although he also got roughed up by NC State in the ACC Tournament), and he certainly has some tools and some size at his disposal. His slider in particular would be an excellent addition to any organization. However, RC still has trouble finding anything -- beyond his height and left-handedness -- that distinguishes him as a clear #1 pick. North Carolina didn't have a terribly difficult schedule, and Miller threw poorly and/or lost against many of the best teams he faced this season. Despite his gaudy numbers, Miller has actually been quite inconsistent with his stuff against quality ballclubs.

We certainly regret not seeing Brad Lincoln pitch this season. Actually, he snuck up on us, as he didn't even make it into our top 10 until several weeks into the season. Playing his games in the weaker Conference USA, it's tough to put his numbers into context without actually getting a look at him, but all reports we've seen indicate that he holds mid-90s fastball velocity throughout games, and he shows excellent command of a plus curveball. Unlike Miller, he also possesses a third pitch -- a change-up that is reportedly already close to Major League average. Lincoln's most impressive performance this season was a complete game shutout over #1-ranked Rice, an outing that certainly went a long way in quieting our concerns about Houston's weaker schedule.

Since we must produce a final opinion in the pre-draft hours, RC is backing Brad Lincoln for the first overall selection in tomorrow's draft, but it's certainly not by an overwhelming margin. We'd actually be very happy with either pitcher, and if the rumors are true that the Royals might instead select Luke Hochevar (who was drafted by the Dodgers last season but failed to sign), we'd be pleased as punch with that as well. There just doesn't seem to be a clear-cut #1, so RC is willing to rely on the judgement of the folks who have actually seen all of the players under consideration. We feel kind of wimpy in not taking a stronger position, but we've gone back and forth so many times that it became clear we'd never arrive at an unyielding preference.

Whatever happens, RC is confident that we're not only going to get a very good pitcher, but that he'll be the guy who the Royals truly believe is the best player available. Truth be told, we're probably just as excited to see who they take in the second round.

Anyway, be sure to tune in frequently tomorrow throughout the day, as RC hosts a live draft tracker. We'll update each Royals pick as it happens, and we'll do our best to provide you with all the information we can possibly find on the draftees. Draft day is RC's favorite day of the year, and as we write this we can't help but get that feeling we had as a child on the night before Christmas. It will probably be a sleepless night at RC Headquarters.


At 6/06/2006 9:37 AM, Blogger PghChris said...

KC Star saying Royals will select Hochevar.

At 6/06/2006 9:49 AM, Blogger PghChris said...

Jim Callis from Baseball America was on 810 this morning and mentioned he wouldn't be surprised to see Scherzer fall to the Royals at pick 45 due to injury concerns and the fact Boras is his agent. Thought the Cardinals might take him at pick 30, otherwise thought it was definitely possible for him to be there for the Royals to pick him in the 2nd round. What a haul that would be.

At 6/06/2006 10:29 AM, Blogger RoyalCornhusker said...

MLB.com is also reporting it will be Hochevar. Just yesterday it was 50-50 between Miller & Lincoln. Shows there isn't much difference between them all.

Hochevar appears to be most ready, since Miller doesn't have a change-up/curve and they say Lincoln will get better after focusing on pitching.

I like the sound of Scherzer falling to 45, but I won't hold my breath. Any other possibilities there?

At 6/06/2006 10:42 AM, Blogger RoyalCornhusker said...

If Scherzer could fall to 45, couldn't Chamberlin? He's also had injury issues and didn't pitch to his potential this year. I'm not sure who his agent is, but he indicates he will sign quickly.

At 6/06/2006 10:44 AM, Blogger royalsbeliever said...

This looks to be a great signing for us, assuming it won't be hard to get Hochevar a contract. Hopefully he can get signed right away and assigned to Wichita. He seems to be ready to go there, if not to High Desert for a few starts.

If Scherzer is available at 45, that would be an absolute steal. I don't know if Joba Chamberlain will far very fall, but if so he might be an option.

At 6/06/2006 11:04 AM, Blogger RoyalCornhusker said...

Here's a nice tidbit on Hochevar that was written last year:

"[Hochevar] is a 6-foot-5 right-hander with a body that is similar to New York Yankees SP Kevin Brown. He has a heavy sinking fastball to go along with a curveball that breaks 11-to-5 and a tight, sharp-breaking slider. His arm speed helps disguise his changeup and Hochevar is regarded as a smart pitcher." MLB.com's Steve Gilbert

Additionally, his fastball was said to have hit 97 and consistently been around 95 during his first start this year for the Fort Worth Cats.

At 6/06/2006 12:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Soren Petro yesterday was saying that the Royals could strike a deal with Scott Boras in which they take Hochevar first, then tell him to tell Max Scherzer to say he won't sign for less than 4.5 mil with anybody so that he drops to the 2nd round, then the royals take him with their first pick in the second and pay him that amount. I don't know - doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me and seems very un-royal-like but it something to keep an eye on.

At 6/06/2006 12:34 PM, Blogger Dave said...

I love how Dave Stewart and Petro have been busting the Royals' balls today about this. I guess Stewart said this decision is between a superstar (Miller) and two terds (Hochevar and Lincoln). What a flippin' tool.

If we take Hochevar, I'll be incredibly pleased.

At 6/06/2006 12:35 PM, Blogger RoyalCornhusker said...

I'd be shocked if anyone, especially the Royals, paid Scherzer $4.5M! While I'd love to have him fall to #45, I'd be upset if the Royals paid $4.5M, especially with recent injury issues.


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