|Jim Callis' Quick Take|
|The Royals got the best hitter in the draft in Mike Moustakas. I like him a little more than fellow California high school third baseman Josh Vitters, who initially looked liked the Royals' choice at No. 2 overall. They had to pass on New Jersey's Rick Porcello, the best high school pitchers in the draft, at No. 2 because of financial considerations, but they still got some good young arms in North Carolina prep righty Sam Runion (second round) and California high school lefty Danny Duffy (third).|
KANSAS CITY--Mike Moustakas has a power agent, Scott Boras, but his power bat proved too much for the Royals to overlook with the second overall pick in the draft.
Moustakas, a left-handed hitting shortstop who was selected the Los Angeles City player of the year for the second straight season, hit .577 with a state record 24 home runs as a senior with Chatsworth High School. He also set the California record with 52 career home runs. He hit .427 with 14 home runs as a junior. He also played on the United States Junior National Team in Cuba.
"We felt very strongly about him being an impact bat, which is obviously something you want to get with the No. 2 selection," Royals scouting director Deric Ladnier said. "From day one, we felt very strongly that he was going out be our guy at No. 2. He is an advanced bat. I don't want to say like Billy Butler. Billy Butler shot through the system. But we envision him not being a level-to-level guy. We think he can start off at a higher level, similar to Billy, (Rookie-level) Idaho Falls."
Butler, the 14th overall pick in 2004, made his major league debut at age 21 this year.
Some thought the Royals might shy away from taking a Boras client.
"Obviously it didn't," Ladnier said. "We selected the player we felt was the best for this organization." The Royals, also, selected a Boras client, righthander Luke Hochevar, first overall last year.
Moustakas was surprised to be selected second overall.
"I absolutely had no idea," he said via phone. "Until they said it on ESPN 2, I had zero clue that I was the second pick. I was kind of a shock to me and my family. It was an unbelievable experience."
He was at his home with family and a couple of close friends when his name was called.
"Everyone just started jumping up and screaming," he said. "A lot of phone calls came in, a lot of text messages. Everyone was giving me hugs. It was unreal. It couldn't have worked out any better. It was not really a party. We didn't know what was going to happen, so we didn't want to make too big deal out it. Now that I got picked, it's an unbelievable experience, an unbelievable feeling. I felt it was an unbelievable fit. It is a privilege that I'm going to be able to play for them."
While it has been projected Moustakas lacks the range to play shortstop professionally and might move to third base or first base, Ladnier believes the contrary.
"We feel strongly that he'll stay at shortstop," Ladnier said. "I know there have been some previews that he has to change positions. He's an athletic kid, his feet are good. He's a fringy, average runner, I guess you could say. He's not a burner. But he has great instincts in the field, great anticipation, which will allow him to stay at that position. We like his hands. His arm is a plus. He has this innate ability. Those are the things we look for when we're trying to select find a player this high in the draft. He is a strong, athletic middle infielder, 6-feet, 195 pounds."
Said Moustakas, "I have no problems staying at shortstop. Wherever they put me, I'm going to play and be happy. I can play anywhere."
Moustakas can also pitch, his fastball clocked as high as 97 mph.
"He's a position player," Ladnier said. "He has got a very good arm, but there is no desire in this organization to put him on the mound."
Said general manager Dayton Moore, "That is one of the telling things when a guy can throw 95 to 97 off the mound and is picked as a position player, not as an pitcher, that is a pretty special athlete. Not too many people in the world can do that."
Now comes what could be the toughest part, finalizing a contract with Boras, who is known for his protracted negotiations.
"That is their job," Moustakas said. "I'm just here to play baseball right now. They are going to take care of me and we're going to figure some stuff out. They will handle their business. I'm just ready to get out on the field and play some ball, whenever that happens, the sooner the better."