When the Kansas City Royals drafted the rangy 6-foot-6 Austin Charles with the last pick of the 20th round of the 2022 MLB Draft, many believed his high end was as a two-way star sort of in the mold of Los Angeles Angels Shohei Ohtani.
But that seems to be pipe dream as the team plans to develop him strictly as a position player and not as a pitcher. Meaning he could become one of the tallest shortstops to ever take the infield of in a Major League game.
Charles nearly returned to college at UC Santa Barbara, but he and the Royals agreed right before the August 1 deadline. With the intriguing prospect in tow, the Royals are now focused on developing him into another in the growing trend of tall shortstops around MLB.
During a visit to the Royals training complex in Surprise, Arizona, Charles says he realized he was more than ready for professional baseball.
“The visit just opened my eyes to see what they’re doing. I knew it was a good organization and fit.”
Ain’t too many cons when you playin’ with the pros🙌🏽
— Austin Charles (@AustinCharles25) July 30, 2022
Charles Is Part Of Growing Trend Of NBA-Size Shortstops
Playing shortstop requires great instincts and feel, and that’s something the Royals say Charles possesses. The team’s hitting coordinator Drew Saylor raved about the Charles’ abilities and traits he possesses.
“He’s got great feel, great instincts at shortstop, and Iove his internal clock. He does a really good job with his first-step reads and he creates pretty good angles for himself.”
Saylor also complimented Charles’ work ethic and resiliency for a young player.
Charles Has Captivating Raw Power
At 6-foot-6, with very long arms, Charles will have to learn to adjust to off-speed pitches. But with the proper plate work and development, Saylor believes they can get Charles to work a specific zone.
“Because he has that natural strength. He has the potential to be a guy who can possibly mishit balls and still hit them really, really, really far …. He’s just continuing to know where his swing plays, and just the small adaptations that are needed to different shapes in the strike zone.
Extended look at the defensive chops of Austin Charles (2022, Stockdale HS). Continutes to grow in to his long, 6'6" frame. Moves very well, especially for size w/ easy arm strength and quick release. @UCSB_Baseball commit#MLBDraft @PG_scouting @SoCalGiants pic.twitter.com/5yRzX8N9GZ
— Perfect Game California (@California_PG) July 2, 2022
“The most exciting part for me is just the curiosity and the energy he brings to the ballpark every day. It’s infectious,” Saylor added.
Charles hopes to follow in the footsteps of other tall shortstops like rising Pirates star Oneil Cruz, who stands 6-foot-7.
Royals have accumulated some nice pieces for the future, including second baseman Samad Taylor, whom Charles could team with to form a nice duo down the line.