Loyalty and respect go a long way, but that’s a challenging lesson to remember when managing a business under the watchful eye of an almighty MLB owner.
That said, the Kansas City Royals thrust themselves into an ethical dilemma and emerged with a decision that hurt the owners’ pockets but aided the players during a time of hardship and grief.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, more than half of the MLB’s organizations thinned out their farm systems by releasing thousands of players. However, the Royals were not one of those teams.
As general manager Dayton Moore explained, every baseball player is an important part of the game, whether they are a top prospect at the highest level of affiliated ball or a washed-up journeyman at the lowest level.
Moore’s announcement drew positive publicity from fans, executives, media, past and present players, and even staff from other teams who praised him for his level-headed approach and incredible decision. Social media came to a quick agreement that Major League Baseball needs more executives like Moore.
In a conference call with local media members today, Royals GM Dayton Moore said this about the club's decision to stand by their minor league players: pic.twitter.com/8ZfWWx95Jh
— Alec Lewis (@alec_lewis) May 29, 2020
With that decision made, the Royals continued to prepare for the MLB Draft. They made six selections in the draft and were able to sign all of them. They also inked deals with seven of the best undrafted free agents available.
The Royals’ loyalty to their players was a huge factor in their quick signings and surely played a massive role in attracting top free agents after the draft.
The team’s selections who quickly put pen to paper are left-handed pitcher Asa Lacy (No. 4), shortstop Nick Loftin (No. 32), right-handed pitcher Ben Hernandez (No. 41), outfielder Tyler Gentry (No. 76), left-handed pitcher Christian Chamberlain (No. 105) and right-handed pitcher Will Klein (No. 135).
As for the undrafted crop, Kansas City agreed to deals with right-handed pitchers Chase Wallace and John McMillon, left-handed pitcher AJ Block, outfielder Tucker Bradley, catchers Kale Emshoff and Saul Garza, and infielder Matt Schmidt.
Wallace checked in at No. 440 on Baseball America’s draft prospects leaderboard while Emshoff was No. 174 and Garza slotted in at No. 379. McMillon donned the 357th position in the ranking while Bradley was 317th. Block was listed as the site’s 20th-best undrafted senior. That leaves Schmidt as the only non-ranked prospect (per Baseball America’s analysis), capping off a solid draft class and incredible signing period.
No other team boasted such a successful group of undrafted signings.
The Kansas City Royals are not the best team in baseball. Their player development department is solid but certainly not exceptional. Kansas City is also a fairly small market compared to other teams in the league.
Still, the Royals have proven that success and fame don’t tell the whole story. What started as an attempt to be equal and fair led to dominance in a unique and competitive signing period.
Aided by good karma and straightforward respect, the Kansas City Royals used the month of June to construct a formidable farm system for an organization guided by terrific principles.