11 June 2008

Farm fresh Royals 2008 -- this year's draftees

It stinks to miss the draft, even if it was for a needed vacation, but miss it I did. At first glance I'm not exactly overwhelmed by the Royals' haul, plus or minus a couple picks, but only time will truly tell what the organization reeled in last Thursday and Friday.

First, the breakdown:

>>> RHP 21 (same as last year, this year included 9 straight righties picked at one point and 11 of 12 in that stretch)
>>> LHP 8 (double last year's count)
>>> OF 8 (one more than last year)
>>> C 4 (last year: 6)
>>> 1B 4 (up from last year)
>>> 3B 3 (same as last year)

>>> 2B/SS 3 combined (4 SS alone last year, didn't know that position was such an organizational strength that only 2 were picked this year)

HS 28 (up from last year)
>>> College 13 (down from last year, 7 juniors, 5 seniors, 1
>>> JuCo 10

Here's the list (including
links to scouting vids).

The top 5:

Rd 1) #3 overall, 1B Eric Hosmer, 6-4, 215 lbs., American Heritage HS (Fla.) senior, bats left, throws left, turns 19 in late October

*** Speculation was that Vanderbilt 3B Pedro Alvarez could drop to the Royals at pick 3, which I would have been all for, Alex Gordon already in place or no, but the Pirates took Alvarez second
to make that a moot point. At that point, the Royals had a decision to make and took high school slugger Hosmer. I gotta be honest, I probably would have gone with South Carolina's switch-hitting 1B Justin Smoak or college lefty Brian Matusz of San Diego there, maybe even C Buster Posey (altho I'm not sold on him), but the Royals rolled the dice somewhat on Hosmer's power bat. Hosmer is an Arizona State signee who is compared to Angels 1B Casey Kotchman. He was touted as possibly the best high school bat in the draft (he hit .470 with 11 HR and 27 RBI this season and several of his aluminum bat bombs can be seen via YouTube) and has a plus arm (he also closed when asked for his high school team, including this year's state title game for Heritage) and decent glove at first. His "approach" and bat speed are what scouts seem to drool over most. He's not reportedly quick but is said to have good range defensively. He's reportedly asking for a $7 million bonus via his "advisor" Scott Boras and has that ASU scholarship hanging out there, but how much improvement can he get by going to college? There's only 2 picks higher he could go, and that's a crapshoot. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper posted a video interview with Hosmer after having named him the state player of the year last week and he says he has the mindset of going to ASU but sounds open to going pro. I expect throwing $7 million his way might make up his mind, although Hosmer reportedly "laughed" at the question of having set a $7 million signing bonus, saying he hadn't even really talked about it with his family, much less Boras. From what I've read so far he seems like a good guy and a worker, so hopefully he pans out. Actually, the more I read about him, the more I like the pick. If KC gets him signed before the Aug. 15 deadline, I'd expect him to hit the AZL or rookie-level Idaho Falls.

Supplemental) #36 overall, LHP Mike Montgomery, 6-5, 180, Hart HS (Calif.), turns 19 July 1.

*** Here's where we may have some minor character issues, as Montgomery was kicked off his high school basketball team for too many technical fouls. That could simply mean he's a competitor, or it could mean he's a problem child. The Royals picked up the supplemental pick as compensation for David Riske getting signed away by the Brewers and used it on the lanky Montgomery, who posted a 1.41 ERA and 99 Ks in 69 1/3 innings this season for Hart. BA had Montgomery ranked as the #10 prospect in California and, according to this LA Daily News blog, will likely forego his scholarship offer to Cal State-Fullerton to sign a pro deal. His scouting report lists a fastball in the low 90s with some good sinking movement plus a shaky curve, a promising changeup and a decent palmball with solid control and a "good mound demeanor". He seems to be more of a pro project than necessarily a sure thing. I also couldn't find a good picture of Mike online. He seems to have the stuff, but it may take time to translate to the pro level. I'd assume he'll start his pro career at the AZL, if he signs.

2) #49 overall, 2B Johnny Giavotella, 5-8, 185, U of New Orleans junior, bats and throws right, turns 21 in July

*** Giavotella is easily the most seasoned of the Royals' top 10 picks, having now played three seasons of college ball. Baseba
ll America named him the nation's top sophomore second baseman after his 2007 season with the Privateers and, this season, he led UNO to the NCAA tourney while hitting .354 with a .470 OBP and 12 HRs. He has a .363 career BA at UNO. Defensively he may not be as good as he had a .963 fielding percentage and 11 E in 63 games this season, which was comparable to his other 2 seasons in college. His best fielding season was in '07 when he had 7 errors and a FP in the .970s. This pick didn't get a lot of play on any of the draft recaps I saw, so I'm not sure what to think. He's a gap hitter with a strong swing, plus he's quick, from the looks of his scouting video. I'm sure "scrappy" and "gritty" are words being bandied about in regards to Giavotella. If he signs, he'll likely start at rookie Burlington, I'd figure, as that's where KC shipped most of its signed college guys last year. He might make Idaho Falls. He's signed.

3) #80 overall, RHP Tyler Sample, 6-7, 220, Mullen Prep (Colo.), turns 19 on the 27th

*** Two interesting facts about Sample: 1 -- he had Tommy John surgery as a sophomore in high school and 2 -- he's already signed. I assume the Royals have scouted Sample well enough to know that he's recovered from TJS, and he has monster size on the mound (comparable to Aaron Harang). Sample has a high-80s, low-90s fastball that doesn't have much movement, reportedly a great 12-6 curveball, a shaky change and touch-and-go control. From the sounds of his stuff, if he doesn't develop a third pitch and can get some movement in his fastball, he could be a killer set-up guy or closer. I can't believe he's already signed. I assume he'll start in the AZL.

4) #115 overall, RHP Timothy Melville, 6-5, 210, Holt HS (Mo.), turns 19 in October

*** Easily the Royals' most daring early pick, Melville dropped because of signability issues as he has signed with North Carolina. He was projected as a first-rounder but dropped, and the Royals will likely have to go way over slot money to get him signed. This is probably a longshot, but it was worth it for KC to give it a shot. He has a fastball in the 90s, a good curveball with developing knucklecurve, a below-average changeup, and shaky control. The MLB scouting report compares him to Phil Hughes and he apparently has a ton of upside, which is why he was rated so highly by several scouting services. This is a chance for Glass to throw some money at something worthwhile other than another crappy free agent. If they can get him inked, which I'd give probably a 10 percent chance, they'll probably send him to Idaho Falls.

Guys from Rd 5 on.....

5) #145 overall, LHP John Lamb, 6-3, 185, Laguna Hills HS (Calif.), turns 18 in July

*** It's pretty obvious Dayton Moore isn't looking for undersized pitchers, as none of the high pitchers picked last year were under 6-2, and, other than an exception or two, that held true this year. Lamb got some attention as a lefty bat but apparently decided to focus on pitching. He has a fastball in the high 80s/low 90s, a decent slurve and change, inconsistent control (but he's not even 18 yet), and has a project feel to him from the scouting reports. He missed the spring after fracturing his elbow in a car accident. He sounds signable, at least, and I've found he's signed.

6) #175 overall, SS Alex Llanos, 6-1, 160, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, turns 18 in Sept.

*** That's 2 years in a row the Royals have gone to Puerto Rico in round 6 after drafting project IF Fernando Cruz there last year in one of their more lauded picks. I guess he's been converted to a centerfielder -- kind of has an Alfonso Soriano build -- whiplike. Likely, like Cruz, will hit Arizona after signing, which he has.

7) #205 overall, 3B Jason Esposito, 6-1, 195, Amity Regional HS (Conn.), turns 18 in July

*** He hit .441 with 9 homers this year and has, or had, a scholarship to Vanderbilt in place. He's already told the Connecticut Post he's signing though, as the Royals offered him a "life changing amount" in bonus cash. He was Connecticut's Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year. Should head to the AZL.

8) #235 overall, RHP Malco(l?)m Culver, 6-2, 185, Palmdale HS (Calif.), turned 18 in Feb.

*** Has a scholarship to San Diego State and plays football, too. May be in the mold of Derrick Robinson as an athlete, but was drafted as a pitcher.

9) #265 overall, SS John Alfaro, 5-9, 170, Grayson County CC (Texas), turned 20 in April

*** He's reportedly already signed. He was the most outstanding player at the JuCo World Series this year and led Grayson to a national title. At least he seems like a winner. He hit .476 in the postseason for Grayson.

10) #295 overall, C Mauricio Matos, 6-0, 185, De Witt Clinton HS (NY), turns 18 in September

*** He played one year at Clinton and hit .612 with 14 steals. I guess his bat impressed Royals scouts -- didn't see anything about his D. What's weird is he skipped his team's Cinderella apperance in the semifinals of the PSAL to fly to KC to workout for the Royals. That bothers me for some reason.

and others....

11th rounder OF Malcolm Bronson has to choose between the Royals and McNeese State, where he has a scholarship. He's another two-sport guy and an athletic type. He hit .442 with 12 HRs for his Jasper, Texas, HS team. Might be a good sign as another Robinson type.

12th rounder LF Keven (goes by Allen) Caldwell is a Clemson signee out of Spartanburg Methodist JuCo who said he was awaiting KC's offer before making a decision on signing. He was the NJCAA regional player of the year after hitting .345 with 13 HR this season.

13th rounder LHP John Flanagan is another big lefty out of Southwestern Illinois JuCo and was quoted as optimistic about signing. He had a 1.89 ERA with 85 Ks in 85 IP this past season. He turns 20 next week and has a high-80s fastball. He's also a 2-sport athlete, only his other sport is bowling as he was the Illinois state champ in that in high school. He could be another mid-round steal.

14th rounder RHP Chase Hentges comes from Shakopee HS in Minnesota and was reported as "set to sign" with KC. He's a tall righty who went 4-0 with a 1.60 ERA and 40 Ks in 35 IP for his HS team this season. I guess his fastball has been clocked at 93 mph. He also hit .466 in 20 games this season.

15th rounder 1B Alberto "Tito" Espinosa comes from Broward JuCo in Florida and has also caught in the past. He passed on the Twins after getting drafted in 2006 and appears to be solid on both sides of the ball. We'll see if he signs how he adjusts to the minors. I say the Royals need a Tito in their minors.

16th rounder LHP Derrick Saito has already signed out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and is being touted as an undersized lefty specialist. He's said to have 4 plus pitches (fastball, cutter, curve, change) with just OK command. It doesn't especially sound like simple lefty specialist stuff -- he could be another Ed Cegarra, who has been pitching well for Burlington and Wilmington. We'll see.

17th rounder RHP Jacob Kuebler is Alex Gordon's cousin out of Lincoln SE HS in Nebraska. He's (shockingly) a Nebraska signee who's 6-5. He has said he's gonna sign after going 7-0 with a 0.17 ERA this season.

18th rounder OF Carlo Testa comes from Belmont U, which is also where KC got Wilson Tucker last year. He was all-conference first team at both CF and P, which is a first in Atlantic Sun Conference history. He's got speed as he hit .387 with 8 triples and 26 SBs and can also get on base. Sounds like a good guy to get signed but is only a junior. After a little more looking, he has signed and is supposed to head to Rookie Burlington.

19th rounder C Miguel Moctezuma of Central Oklahoma State U is a junior and has my favorite name of any of this year's draftees. He's signed, reportedly, after hitting .434 this season with a .496 OBP and 10 HR. He also had only 6 errors in 446 chances. He only had 1 error while starting his freshman year.

20th rounder OF Shawn Griffin comes from the U of Tennessee, where he hit .314 this season with 12 HR and slugged .586 in 52 games. Hopefully some of that power translates from the aluminum bat game. He's signed and headed to Idaho Falls.

21st rounder RHP Jacob Theis is a 6-6 pitcher from Mountlake Terrace HS in Washington. He has a scholarship to Wazzu waiting for him after going 7-2 with a 1.58 ERA this season. I haven't seen anything indicating that he's signed or what his intentions are.

22nd rounder LHP Blaine Hardy is a Lewis-Clark State College junior who pitched out of the pen for the Warriors and went 8-1 with a 2.48 ERA with 65 Ks and 12 walks in 76 1/3 IP. No mention if he's any relation to Rowdy.

23rd rounder RHP Dale De Schepper is signed and likely headed to Burlington or Arizona. I guess the Royals tried to sign him last summer but he decided to play a year of juco instead. He was only second-team all conference at Mt. San Jacinto JuCo this season. We'll see how he can do against low pro batters.

24th rounder 3B Jason Morales is out of UNC Pembroke as a junior, although the team site lists him as a senior. He slugged 15 HRs this season for Pembroke and hit .354 for Pembroke over his career. He was also very durable for the Braves. Haven't seen if he's signed yet.

25th rounder RHP Carson Bryant comes from Azusa Pacific. He's signed. His fastball is in the low 90s and he missed this last season with eligibility problems. He must have some fairly decent stuff, tho.

26th rounder RHP Ryan Morgan is a close-to-home guy from Rockhurst College. He's signed and headed to Idaho Falls. He was 3-4 with a 3.89 ERA and 74 Ks in 69 1/3 IP. Low-90s fastball. Not great numbers for the level he was at but he's a home state guy (actually from St. Louis) and must have been worth a flyer.

27th rounder LHP Tim Huber is actually a sub-6-foot lefty from the U of Nebraska-Omaha. He went 9-1 with a 3.22 ERA for the Mavs and had 95 Ks and 31 walks in 78 1/3 IP. Might be a good sign in the mid rounds.

28th rounder RHP Greg Billo is another tall pitcher from Carl Sandburg HS in Illinois. He's taken a small college scholarship after going 12-1 this season with a 1.19 ERA and 97 Ks and 21 BB in 70 1/3 IP. I wonder if getting drafted changes his plans. Haven't seen that he's signed.

29th rounder 1B Beau Brett comes out of Joel Ferris HS in Washington and is George Brett's nephew. I guess he has a scholarship to USC, so may be a tough sign, but if anyone can get it done in that family it's probably KC. If anything, you'd think he'd go to college just to move up in the draft some in the future and make some more money. Would be a nice sign, tho, if KC could ink him.

30th rounder LHP Dieterick "Rick" Dodridge has my second-favorite name of the draft and is another big lefty out of Ogemaw Heights HS in Michigan. Not finding much info on Dieterick, tho. Guess he has a scholarship offer to Central Michigan. Once I searched for his name as Rick, I got some hits. His fastball tops out in the mid to upper 80s, so he's kind of a soft tosser. He may be another one who's better off going to college and trying to develop more speed.

31st rounder CF Ryan Curl comes from St. Francis DeSales HS in Ohio. He has a scholarship to Miami (OH) waiting and has been quoted as saying he's leaning toward college. I guess he's speedy. He may be a late sign.

32nd rounder RHP Reynaldo Cotilla hails from Miami Dade South JuCo and pitched out of the pen. His numbers didn't exactly blow me away. Might be lower minor roster filler, if he's signed.

33rd rounder RHP Eric Swegman stands 6-6 out of Young Harris JuCo in Georgia. He also didn't have overwhelming stats but did have a decent K rate.

34th rounder RHP Brett Richardson comes from Wenatchee Valley CC in Washington. He was academically ineligible for the '08 season, but was reportedly one of the team's best pitchers in '07.

35th rounder RHP Christopher Balcom-Miller is yet another JuCo righty out of West Valley in California. He had a 4.08 ERA out of the pen this season but struck out 33 in 28 2/3 IP.

36th rounder RHP Nick Purdy is 6-5 and hails from St. Marys SS in the Great White North of Ontario, Canada. His fastball runs in the mid 90s with a good curve and solid change. May be a late steal if the Royals can sign him.

37th rounder RHP Bradin Hagens made it 6 straight righties and comes from Merced JuCo in California. According to what seems to be his MySpace page, he's still making up his mind whether to sign or not.

38th rounder RHP James Thompson comes from Columbus State. He's signed and headed to Idaho Falls. He was 4-1 with a 3.96 ERA this past season. He plays in the same conference as Jason Morales and had 42 Ks and 17 BB in just under 39 IP. His fastball was clocked in the mid-90s. I assume he might be a reliever.

39th rounder RHP (what else?) Ryan Modglin came out of Scott City HS in Missouri. He's saying he's going to college and is headed to Missouri State. He might also be a player the Royals watch a while before making an offer. He was 8-1 with a 0.49 ERA and 109 Ks in 58 IP and batted .622 with 10 HR. Those are some eye-popping stats -- we'll see if the Royals cough up the cash to sign him or let him go.

40th rounder RHP Pernell Halliman is 6-6 and 240 out of Jackson State. He had a 7.43 ERA but had 65 Ks in 40 IP. The Royals must be desperate for a power pitcher.

41st rounder C Doug Joyce comes from Stanwood HS in Washington. He's got a scholarship to Florida International waiting. He hit .360 and slugged .765 this past season and caught 9 of 12 runners trying to steal on him. Might be another late round steal if the Royals can sign him, but might be better served going to college.

42nd rounder RHP Marc Oslund is another big righty from West Torrance HS in California. He has a BYU scholarship waiting. He was 8-0 this year with an ERA under 1 and 89 Ks with 15 walks. I bet he goes to BYU after getting drafted this late.

43rd rounder RHP Cory Kiefer was the last righty the Royals took, as he comes from Valley View HS in California. He was headed to California Baptist University after going 5-4 with a 1.68 ERA with 38 Ks in 50 IP. Royals farmhand P Aaron Hartsock is a CBU product. Maybe another draft-and-follow possibility?

44th rounder OF Patrick Johnson came out of Colony HS in California. He decided to go the JuCo route instead. He hit .400 and slugged .613 in 26 games this season while going 15/15 in SB.

45th rounder CF Raymond Anderson is out of Lassiter HS in Georgia. Only 5-9 but his game is quickness and defense with contact hitting skills. I can't find where he was going to college, but after getting drafted this late I'd assume he's going there.

46th rounder 1B William Beckwith hails from West Lowndes HS in Mississippi and hit .519 and slugged. 833 this season in 18 games. He's signed to a juco. Maybe another draft-and-follow candidate.

47th rounder LHP Stephen Gilgenbach came out of the U of Arkansas Little Rock as a reliever and batters hit only .219 off him with 39 Ks in 29 IP. He should fill out a lower minors bullpen.

48th rounder SS Terrence Buchanan is another California high school product. He hit .407 this season while going 29/31 in SB at Mt. Carmel HS. He apparently has a scholarship to CSU San Bernadino, where I assume he'll go.

49th rounder 3B Alan Salgado comes from California high school as well. He hit .415 for San Ysidro and slugged .878 in 32 games. He was 15/17 in SB. May be a good sign if the Royals can get it done.

Finally.....50th rounder C Travis Jones comes from an Arizona high school. He's signed with Arizona, supposedly, although I guess he was still considering his options after the draft. He hit .475 and slugged 1.020 with 14 HR and 30 BB with only 10 K for Sabino HS in 31 games. It would be cool if he signed.

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