Royals Vice President/Assistant General Manager-Player Personnel, J.J. Picollo joined Cody and Gold on Wednesday and spoke on the organization's approach to this years' pandemic shortened, five-round MLB Draft.
"I know that Lonnie Goldberg, our Assistant GM-Amateur Scouting, feels like they are in a good position to run a very efficient and quality draft. They've got a lot of looks at players and they're prepared to line this up," Picollo said on Wednesday when asked if having only five rounds would change the organization's approach. "It's just going to be very different this year than in past years. We will have a limited number of picks and we're still waiting on some of the nuances of the post-draft. How many players we are allowed to sign, for example, and I know MLB is working hard to clarify these things, it's certainly going to be a little bit different."
An initial agreement between team owners and the Players' Association back in late March, assured the draft would be a minimum of five rounds, with hopes of a ten-round draft. Those hopes were ultimately dashed when the two sides found themselves at an impasse and a final ruling of five rounds, was made by Commissioner Rob Manfred.
Picollo acknowledged the drawbacks of a shorter draft, "We're always in favor of bringing in as much talent to our system as we can. Those tenth rounder, fifteenth rounder, twentieth rounder guys, those guys are your insurance policies because if you hit on a player after the tenth or twentieth round, that makes your draft that much better. So if you have a pick that was in those top five rounds not work out, you have others to protect them. That's what we're missing in this year's draft, the insurance that you had in past years."
Those insurance policies can play a big part in an organization's success and the Royals are no exception. Whit Merrifield, a ninth-round selection for the Royals in 2010, is now an All-Star who led the AL in hits the past two seasons. Jakob Junis, a member of the Royals' starting rotation the last three seasons, was selected by the club in the twenty-ninth round of the 2011 amateur draft, and let's not forget that former Royals fan-favorite Jarrod Dyson was selected as late as the fiftieth round.
The Royals have been very good at plucking out talent that can make an impact in the later rounds, so it'll be interesting to see how well they can sell the organization and opportunity to undrafted players, with a cap of $20,000 per player to spend.
"Yeah, again it's going to be different." Picollo said "The thing we have to remind ourselves is whether we agree or disagree, every team is playing by the same rules, we simply have to do the best we can do to make this draft work the way we want it to work."