A Royal Idea

The Royals expect righthander Aaron Crow to move quickly

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KANSAS CITYAaron Crow was undefeated as a junior at Missouri, going 13-0 with a 2.35 ERA, including a streak of 43 consecutive scoreless innings, while striking out 127 and walking 38 in 107 1/3 innings in 2008.
This shouldn't be an $11 million draft class like last year, but the Royals once again could spend a lot of money if so inclined. Draft-eligible freshman LHP Chris Dwyer (fourth round) won't be an easy sign, but might be worth it with two plus pitches at times. Some thought the Royals would pop C Wil Myers at 12th overall, but they got him in the third after taking former Missouri ace Aaron Crow.

Missouri recruited Crow out of Topeka (Kan.) Washburn Rural High, where he was 4-2 with a 1.71 ERA and was all-state as a senior in 2005. He grew up a Royals fan. The Royals, who have been criticized for overlooking area talent such as Albert Pujols and Ryan Howard during the draft, selected Crow, a 6-foot-3, 195 pound righthander, 12th overall.

"Everything being equal, absolutely we would rather give the advantage to somebody who has a passion for the Kansas City Royals, a local flavor," Royals GM Dayton Moore said. "But it's certainly not what leads us to the player. The talent is what you recognize and what you focus on and that was the case here."

Crow was the ninth overall pick in the 2008 draft by the Nationals, but did not sign. His advisors, the Hendricks brothers, were seeking a reported $4 million contract, while the Nationals' offer was $3.5.

"He understands what happened last year was a business decision, but I feel like he's ready to go," said Royals scouting director and assistant general manager J.J. Picollo., "I spent some time with Aaron this year when he was in Arizona working out. Aaron expressed to me the desire to get out and play."
Instead of returning to Missouri, Crow reported to the Fort Worth Cats of the independent American Association. He went 3-0 with a 1.06 ERA and struck out 17 in 17 innings. It was the same route Royals righthander Luke Hochevar took in 2006. After failing to sign with the Dodgers, who drafted him 40th overall in 2005, Hochevar made four starts for the Cats in 2006 before the Royals selected him first overall that June.
Moore said the Royals did not hesitate in selecting Crow, although he did not pitch last year after Missouri's season ended.

"I don't think we can worry too much about what happened last year," Moore said. "We have to evaluate where our minor league system is and where our strengths and weaknesses are. Going into this draft, we felt like we needed to add advanced pitching, and Aaron fits that bill. Really, it's what we were looking for.

"Losing some developmental time is a question we have to answer, but I don't think it's going to impact Aaron at all as far as how quickly he can move. We'll be able to make up for some time. We'll help him make up for some lost innings but we anticipate he'll be OK and on track by the end of this calendar year."

Picollo said Crow would jump in at an "advanced level" in the minors, perhaps as high as Double-A, depending on how soon he signs.

"Aaron's a power pitcher," Picollo said. "We've seen his fastball up to 96 (mph) and he pitches at 92-94. He's got a power slider and a changeup, which I consider a power changeup. He's an aggressive pitcher. He attacks the hitters. That's what most attracted us to him. We see him as a starter."

• In the third round, the Royals selected catcher Wil Myers from Wesleyan Christian Academy in High Point, N.C. Myers hit 13 home runs in his first 19 games this season and helped his team win the 2008 North Carolina 3-A state title. He has signed a letter-of-intent with South Carolina.
• In 2008, the Royals had four picks in the top 80, but this year Crow was their only selection in the top 90. The Royals forfeited their second-round pick to the Diamondbacks when they signed free agent reliever Juan Cruz. They were hoping to pick up a supplemental selection by offering second baseman Mark Grudzielanek arbitration, but he remains unsigned.