The Royals announced that they have signed first-round pick Ashe Russell (Twitter link). Russell, a high school right-hander out of Indiana, agreed to terms on a bonus of $2,190,200, which is $6K over the slot value for the No. 21 overall selection, reports MLB.com’s Jim Callis (on Twitter).
Callis and MLB.com colleague Jonathan Mayo ranked Russell as the top high school arm in the draft and the 14th-best prospect overall. Baseball America ranked him 17th, while ESPN’s Keith Law had him at No. 30, and Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel rated Russell 37th.
Russell works at 92-95 mph with a slider that can be a swing-and-miss offering in the 78-82 mph range, per MLB.com’s free scouting report. Late life on his fastball helps Russell to generate a large number of ground balls, BA writes, though he’s struggled to repeat the release point on his three-quarter arm slot at times. McDaniel rates him a bit lower due to only showing two plus pitches and command that’s “just alright,” and ESPN feels that his tendency to throw across his body and lack of a plus changeup will leave him vulnerable to lefties.