06/11/09 7:35 PM ET
Royals focus on college talent in Draft
Majority of club's picks come from collegiate ranks
By Rustin Dodd / MLB.com
The Royals set the tone for a pitcher-heavy Draft by taking Aaron Crow, formerly of the University of Missouri, in the first round.
When the Draft was over on Thursday afternoon, Kansas City had selected 24 pitchers, including 16 from the collegiate ranks.
"We'll always take the best player available to us," said Royals' general manager Dayton Moore. "You like a blend of college versus high school. And where our system has been the last two years, taking a lot of high school players, it's now time to inject some college talent with those players."
Kansas City had added Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer, two high school infielders with the potential to hit for power, with their first-round picks in 2007 and 2008.
This time they needed arms. And after drafting high school catcher William Meyers in the third round, the Royals went on a binge of collegiate pitchers.
They took Chris Dwyer of Clemson in the fourth round. Harold Coleman of Louisiana State in the fifth, Mathiew White of New Mexico in the sixth, George Baumann of Missouri State in the seventh and Gardner Odenbach of Connecticut in the eighth.
"This year we took some very successful college-type relief pitchers that can blend in well with [the younger players] and hopefully get a wave going together with some of the young talent we have, and have them arrive at the Major Leagues at the same time," Moore said.
And after three long days, Moore and J.J. Picollo, the Royals' assistant general manager/scouting and player development, felt like they came away with a group of players that can help the Royals in the future.
The breakdown ended up looking like this: Kansas City came away with 49 players, including 27 from college and 21 from high school. They picked 15 right-handed pitchers and nine left-handers. They acquired five catchers, 14 infielders and six outfielders.
Three players -- Coleman, Eric Lyons and Ben Tschepikow from Arkansas -- will compete in the College World Series.
And seven of the picks are natives of Kansas and Missouri.
"It's important for us to scout our own backyard like it's the most productive place in the world," Moore said.
Royals -- Top five selections
|12||RHP||Aaron Crow||No School|
|91||C||William Myers||Wesleyan Christian Academy|
|122||LHP||Christopher Dwyer||Clemson U|
|152||RHP||Harold Coleman||Louisiana St U|
|182||RHP||Mathiew White||U New Mexico|
|Complete Royals Draft results >|
Two of those local kids went to high school in the Kansas City area.
Kansas City selected Mike Morin, a right-handed pitcher from Shawnee Mission South High School in Overland Park, Kan., in the 40th round and picked up Jeffrey Soptic, a tall right-hander from Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village, Kan., in the 43rd.
"They were two players that were projectable right-handed pitchers," said Picollo, who was in charge of his first Royals Draft. "Both have good working young bodies. They look like pitchers. Their arms work well. We think they have bright futures, and we're looking forward to following their process through the summer."
The Royals also drafted Kevin Kuntz, the son of Royals' first-base coach Rusty Kuntz in the 48th round. Kuntz has signed to play baseball at the University of Kansas.
Now comes the hard part. The Royals will have to sign Crow, their first-round pick, and convince Meyers, their third-round selection, to choose professional baseball over a college scholarship. Clemson's Dwyer could also choose to return to school.
"The first three players that we selected are not going to be easy signs," Moore said.
But that's exactly why Kansas City picked them. The Royals drafted Crow, Meyers and Dwyer for their talent, not their signability, Moore said.
And as they have been in the past, Picollo said the Royals were focused on finding athletes and power arms.
They think they found a few.
"You look at the successful Major League teams, they have athletic guys on the field and they have power arms, whether it be starting pitching or bullpen," Picollo said. "That's something we need to be very conscious of. Championship teams always have those types of players."
Rustin Dodd is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.