Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft is set for Thursday, and two compelling local storylines will be discussed amongst Lawrence baseball enthusiasts.
Storyline No. 1: With the No. 3 overall pick, with whom will the Kansas City Royals stock their farm system?
Storyline No. 2: Where will Missouri ace Aaron Crow, who had a 2008 stretch of 43 consecutive scoreless innings, end up?
If these storylines came together as one, it would be captivating: Crow, who grew up in Topeka, getting the chance to pitch close to home; the Royals drafting an in-state talent who could develop into a star.
As exciting as it'd be, it's simply not what the Royals need.
The Royals need a bat. And they need one badly.
Kansas City is last in the MLB in runs, home runs and RBI. The Royals are 29th in slugging percentage and 27th in on-base percentage. Heck, Atlanta's Chipper Jones is hitting 93 points higher than the Royals' on-base percentage (.314).
OK, so you can never have too much pitching. Crow could solidify the rotation for many years. Point noted. However, in the heavy-hitting American League, the Royals never will contend for the AL Central putting up the 3.63 runs per game they've averaged this season.
Plus, what's wrong with Kansas City's starting rotation as it is?
Zack Greinke (5-2, 2.88 ERA, 53 K's, 19 BB entering Tuesday) is having an all-star year and has developed into a legitimate ace. He's only 24.
The rotation has other young components: Brian Bannister (27), Gil Meche (29) and Luke Hochevar (24).
Evaluating Hochevar's 3-5 record and 4.98 ERA like he was on your fantasy baseball team isn't fair. Give the Royals' No. 1 overall pick in 2006 another year or two. Greinke didn't exactly have immediate impact at the big-league level either - and look now.
Even if the Royals decided to select a pitcher, the right-handed Crow doesn't fill their primary need at the position. At present, there's no left-handed arm in the starting rotation.
So what hitting position should Kansas City look at?
At the big-league level, third base (Alex Gordon) is probably the only position that's stable for another five-plus years.
Essentially, most positions are up for grabs.
ESPN.com draft analyst Keith Law predicts the Royals will take first baseman Eric Hosmer (American Heritage High School, Fla.), while Baseball America's mock draft has Kansas City taking Florida State catcher Buster Posey.
Both mock drafts have Crow going seventh overall to Cincinnati.
Should he go higher? Probably.
The way the Royals are building for the future, though, adding a power bat to the lineup would be more beneficial.