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Royals Draft Preview
By Will Kimmey
Scouting Director: Deric Ladnier (first draft: 2001).
2000 Draft (First five rounds, picking fourth)
2001 Draft (First five rounds, picking ninth)
2002 Draft (First five rounds, picking sixth)
Ladnier chose Colt Griffin, a righthander who became the first documented high school pitcher to throw 100 mph, in the first round and Roscoe Crosby, an athletic outfielder with first-round skills who fell because of a commitment to play football at Clemson, in the second. Griffin has struggled with his control and is still in low Class A. Crosby has to yet play a game as a Royal because of injury, though he did end his football career this spring to concentrate full-time on baseball.
After the Royals spent $4.15 million on that duo and got mixed results, general manager Allard Baird was primed to go after a college pitcher in the first round last year. But scouts were convinced Zack Greinke, a third baseman who came into his own on the mound in his senior year, was as polished as any prospect.
Greinke has been as advertised, posting a 2.45 ERA in Puerto Rico over the winter and going 4-0, 1.20 through 30 innings after opening this season as a 19-year-old in high Class A.
Following Greinke, the Royals took the college route with nine of their next 13 picks in 2002, a year after spending just one of their first nine picks on a collegian.
Expect the Royals to stay with college players this season as they target a pitcher who can add to their young staff quickly. There's a good chance Richmond's Tim Stauffer, their first choice, or Wake Forest's Kyle Sleeth will be available at No. 5. Like Greinke, Stauffer stands 6-foot-2, has excellent stuff and succeeds because of his command and feel for pitching. Sleeth is a 6-foot-5 tower of power whose fastball touches the mid-90s and who has a power slider to go along with it.
The Royals also have shown interest in Dunedin (Fla.) High outfielder Ryan Harvey. Harvey, a lean, strong athlete who stands 6-foot-5, is a potential five-tool player who also pitched in high school.
The Royals also own the Braves' first-round pick (30th overall) as compensation for losing free agent Paul Byrd. They might look to address needs in the outfield or at third or second base there, assuming they grab at pitcher at No. 5.