Royals' Keck Realizes His Future

Former power hitter takes the mound





Kansas City—Jon Keck had a dream of being a lefthanded power hitter in the majors. His freshman year at Bethel, an NAIA school in McKenzie, Tenn., he set a single-season school record with 17 home runs and holds the school record with 41 career home runs.

"I really liked hitting," Keck said. "For the longest time I thought that's what I'd get drafted for. All I wanted to do was hit."

Keck may yet make it to the big leagues, but it will be by keeping the ball in the park, not by hitting it out.

The Royals took Keck in the 42nd round of the 2009 draft as a lefthanded pitcher, not as a home run hitter. Keck did not pitch much in college, but during his junior year head coach Rusty Thompson and his brother—pitching coach Nick Thompson, who pitched three years in the Cubs organization—suggested he concentrate on pitching.

"I really haven't pitched for long," Keck said. "My junior year in college I started throwing a little harder and figured pitching would probably be better. When I was a sophomore I was probably 87-90 mph, hitting 91; then I jumped up to 89 to 94. Now I'm anywhere from 90 to 96. It depends on the day."

Keck, who is 6-foot-6, 215 pounds, began the 2012 season with high Class A Wilmington, where he was 2-1, 1.61 in 11 relief appearances, allowing 15 hits and striking out 15 in 22 innings while holding Carolina League hitters to a .197 average.

That earned him a promotion to Double-A Northwest Arkansas, where he was 2-2, 4.04 in 28 appearances out of the bullpen. He struck out 42 in 42 innings, while yielding 38 hits. He needs to improve his control, walking 39 in 65 innings. The Royals sent Keck to the Arizona Fall League, where he got off to a rocky start, allowing six earned runs on 10 hits and four walks in three innings.

ROYALTIES

• The Royals acquired righthander Ervin Santana from the Angels for lefthander Brandon Sisk. They had signed the 27-year-old Sisk out of the independent Continental League in 2008, and he made 75 appearances the last two seasons at Triple-A Omaha.

• Jack Maloof, who had been the Royals' minor league hitting coordinator, and Andre David, who has spent 14 years coaching in the Royals organization, have been promoted to hitting coaches for the big league club. Maloof will be the hitting coach, while David will be the assistant.