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Royals Eschew Pitchers

June 3, 2003
By Alan Eskew

KANSAS CITY--The Royals did not draft a pitcher in the first round Tuesday.

That is news, as the Royals have spent eight first-round picks in the previous six years on pitchers. They had not drafted a position player since picking Dee Brown with the 14th-overall pick in 1996.

The Royals, however, used their two first-round picks on position players in 2003. They used their first pick (the fifth overall selection) on Chris Lubanski, an outfielder from Kennedy-Kenrick High in Schweinksville, Pa. The Royals closed out the first round by picking Toledo catcher Mitch Maier, who was the 30th selection and compensation from the Braves for signing free agent pitcher Paul Byrd.

Lubanski, a 6-foot-3, 185-pounder who bats and throws left, hit .522-6-38 his senior season and was chosen the Gatorade national prep player of the year. He has been clocked at running 60 yards in 6.35 seconds. "He can be a plus defensive player and a guy who will hit, steal bases and hit homer runs," Royals scouting director Deric Ladnier said. "From an offensive and defensive standpoint, we feel Chris was the right player for us." Lubanski, who had committed to play at Florida State, is hoping negotiations will go smoothly with the Royals. "I want to sign as soon as possible and hopefully report to the minor league camp by June 15," Lubanski said. "My goal is in three years I want to be playing at Kauffman Stadium, when I'm 21 years old."

Maier, who bats left and throws right, hit .448-9-61 and stole 29 bases as a junior at Toledo. He led the Mid-American Conference in batting average as a freshman and as a junior, and also led the league in stolen bases this season. He joined Ball State outfielder Brad Snyder (18th overall pick to Cleveland) in giving the MAC two first-round picks for the first time since 1968. "He's got a college-skilled bat, is big and strong, who has good hands behind the plate," Ladnier said. Ladnier, however, hinted that there is an outside chance Maier could change positions, possibly play left field.

The Royals used their second-round pick on Shane Costa, a Cal State Fullerton outfielder, and did not pick a pitcher until the fifth round when they selected Georgia Tech righthander Chris Goodman and sixth-rounder Ryan Braun, a righthander from Nevada-Las Vegas. Their third-round pick was Chandler (Ariz.) Junior College first baseman Brian McFall, and their fourth-round pick was Puerto Rican third baseman Miguel Vega.

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