Royals sign first-round pick Colon
Shortstop eager to begin professional career
KANSAS CITY -- This time there were no dramatic holdouts or midnight signings.
It didn't take long for the Royals to bring their first-round Draft choice into the fold, signing shortstop Christian Colon for a $2.75 million on Friday, just 19 days after selecting him.
Colon, the fourth overall selection in this year's First-Year Player Draft, played at Cal State-Fullerton, where he batted .358 with 17 homers, 68 RBIs and 13 stolen bases in 64 games this season.
Early signings have not been a friend to the Royals as their past five first-round selections have waited until at least August to ink their deals -- pitcher Aaron Crow last year, first baseman Eric Hosmer in 2008, third baseman Mike Moustakas in 2007, pitcher Luke Hochevar in 2006 and third baseman Alex Gordon in 2005.
Colon had no intention of holding out -- he just wanted to get back on the field. It's been almost two weeks since he last played for Cal State-Fullerton, and that is two weeks too long.
"I'm a baseball player and I love being out there and playing every day," Colon said. "For me, I'm very excited that it was a quick thing. I was at home and I was starting to get kind of antsy, I wanted to get out there and play. ... I can't wait to start my journey with the Kansas City Royals."
Avoiding a long, drawn out holdout allows the draftee to get right into the organization's system, instead of waiting around all summer for the right price. J.J. Picollo, director of player development, spoke of the benefits of a player signing early.
"I think it's an advantage just for the fact that he is going to get a couple hundred at-bats this summer," Picollo said. "He's going to get to be around our coaches and our staff and learn our system. I think that puts him ahead of the timetable that may normally be out there for a first-round pick. It's pretty clear that Christian wants to play."
While signing early is a plus, it was not the deciding factor in the Royals' decision to select Colon.
Actually, the two weeks between the Draft and Colon's signing turned out to be a necessary resting time for him.
"We drafted him because we felt like he was a great fit for our organization and it was a need," Picollo said. "We were hopeful to get him out playing as quick as possible and we're happy. It'll be two weeks on Monday since [Colon's] last college game, so that's just about the right time for him to heal after a long college season and get going with his professional career."
Colon will report to Wilmington on Saturday morning and will begin his career with the Royals in their Class A Advanced affiliate in the Carolina League.
Wilmington is considerably more advanced than the regular Class A team, but the Royals feel that with Colon's ability and desire to play, he will be just fine.
"In our evaluations of Christian as a ball player, we feel like he can handle the league," Picollo said. "He has a lot of experience in the college level, the international level. His maturity is a little bit greater than a lot of college players, and I think he's going to fit right in without any issues at all."
To Colon, however, it doesn't matter what league he finds himself in, he's going to play the same way.
"For me, I just go out there and play," Colon said. "My expectations are to win, whether I'm in Single-A, Double-A, Triple-A or the big leagues. I'm going to go out there every day and give it my all and try to win. I've been around people that like to win like Cal State-Fullerton, so I'm excited to win. That's really what I want to do."
Royals amateur scout Scott Groot, who signed Colon to the deal, said that with Colon, the Royals are getting much more than a just a solid baseball player.
"What he brings to the table is not only his ability to play, but his leadership," Groot said. "He's such a great teammate and he's going to provide a lot of things -- a lot of great qualities -- for this organization and the community."
Colon is represented by agent Scott Boras, who is known for holding out until the price is right. Three of the Royals past five first-round selections -- Hochevar, Moustakas and Hosmer -- were represented by Boras, so the quick sign was a much-welcomed surprise.
The Royals' first-round selection in the 2004 Draft, Billy Butler, signed with the Royals on the day of his Draft -- something that ultimately led to his quick ascension to the Majors.
"Just because I signed early, I was sent to Rookie Advanced and [the Royals] were able to push me quicker to the big leagues," Butler said. "Guys nowadays are holding out and missing out on a whole year of games and it's setting them back for their maturing and getting to the big leagues quicker."
Butler applauded Colon for his decision to sign early.
"I made the right decision just to get out there and play," Butler said. "I'm happy for [Colon] and I'm actually proud of him. He's going to get a rookie year under his belt and get some games in. Not a lot of guys are doing that anymore, and that is what benefited me the most."
Colon doesn't know when he will make his Major League debut for the Royals, but until that day comes, he knows what he needs to do.
"That's really not up to me," he said. "I just want to go out there everyday and get better and help my team win. Things will take of themselves if I do what I'm supposed to do."
Samuel Zuba is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.