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Royals Draft Report Card

By Jim Callis

Best Pro Debut: RHP Ryan Bukvich (11) posted a 2.37 ERA, six saves and 35 strikeouts in 30 innings with three teams, peaking at high Class A Wilmington. RHP Mike Natale (22) put up similar numbers at short-season Spokane with a 1.32 ERA, eight saves and 43 strikeouts in 41 innings.

Best Athlete: LHP Mike Stodolka (1) had a chance to make it to the majors as a first baseman. But the Royals drafted him fourth overall and handed him $2.5 million so they could take advantage of his 90-93 mph fastball on the mound. He’s polished for a teenaged lefty.

Best Hitter: Though he went just 4-for-34 (.114) at Spokane, C Scott Walter (3) has offensive upside for his position. He has good receiving skills and arm strength.

Best Raw Power: C Mike Tonis (2) gets the nod over Walter.

Fastest Runner: OF David DeJesus (4), who has yet to make his pro debut because of a shoulder injury in NCAA regional play that kept him out of action all summer.

Best Defensive Player: Tonis is more advanced as a catcher than Walter. He has an above-average arm, better footwork and moves well behind the plate.

Best Fastball: RHP Jason Kaanoi (7) and Bukvich both can hit 96 mph with their fastballs. Bukvich’s fastball is probably more effective, because at 6-foot-3 he throws on more of a downward plane than the 5-foot-11 Kaanoi does.

Most Intriguing Background: RHP Jason Fingers (10) is the son of Hall of Fame reliever Rollie. LHP Hector Rosado (50) is the cousin of Royals starter Jose, who like Hector was drafted out of a Texas junior college.

Closest To The Majors: Tonis was the only 2000 draftee to play in Triple-A, going 4-for-8 at Omaha. Once he makes a couple of adjustments to his swing, he’ll be able to fill the black hole that was Royals catching this season. Stodolka should be one of the first high school players from the draft to reach the majors.

Best Late-Round Pick: Bukvich. Kansas City kept track of him after he dropped out of Mississippi.

The One Who Got Away: RHP Adam Peterson (15) was the only Royals draft pick in the first 22 rounds who didn’t sign. Owner of a consistent 92-93 mph fastball and a solid breaking ball, he returned to Wichita State for his junior season and could be a 2001 first-rounder if he continues to develop.

Assessment: Terry Wetzel departed as scouting director shortly after the draft, though there was nothing wrong with this effort. Stodolka wasn’t the fourth-best player available, but he was a solid choice for a franchise determined to have a predraft deal in place. With Tonis and Walter, the Royals got two of the three best college players at the big league club’s weakest position.

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