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Kansas City Royals Draft Report Card

By David Rawnsley

Best Debut: Five Royals draft picks earned all-star honors for league champion Spokane in the short-season Northwest League. 1B Ken Harvey (5), who hit .397-8-41, and SS Mark Ellis (9), who hit .327-7-47, stood out.

Best Athlete: SS Mackeel Rodgers (4) runs the 60-yard dash in 6.6 seconds and can throw 92 mph off the mound. A native of the Virgin Islands, he has raw but intriguing baseball skills.

Best Hitter: The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Harvey led NCAA Division I with a .478 average while at Nebraska then led the Northwest League with a .397 average. He has above-average bat speed and a level swing that produces line drive after line drive to center and the opposite field.

Best Power: Harvey’s power doesn’t manifest itself all the time because he doesn’t always try to pull the ball. He already has shown an ability to take pitches out of the park the other way.

Fastest Runner: Rodgers is the fastest of a generally slow group of players.

Best Defensive Player: Ellis has excellent hands at shortstop and enough arm for the position. His quickness and range come up a step short of the ideal, though, and may relegate him to a utility role.

Best Fastball: Incredibly, the Royals had four pitchers who regularly hit 96-97 mph during the summer: RHPs Jay Gehrke (1), Mike MacDougal (1), Wes Obermueller (2) and Kyle Snyder (1). For now, MacDougal sustains his velocity the best from that group.

Most Intriguing Background: Obermueller was an outfielder at Iowa before shifting to the mound in his final season. Though he went 1-9, 6.83 as a senior, he was drafted highly because of his tremendous arm strength.

Closest to the Majors: The Royals are in dire need of pitching at the big league level and took pitchers with their first seven selections. Snyder is the most advanced of all the power arms they took, though LHP Tony Cogan (12) may beat Snyder to Kansas City out of the bullpen. He was overlooked among all the Stanford pitching prospects.

The One That Got Away: The Royals thought they had a deal with RHP Kiki Bengochea (3), but that evaporated and Bengochea ended up at Miami, where he’ll be in the starting rotation as a freshman.

Best Non-Draft Sign: After his senior year at the University of Mobile (Ala.), LHP James King was signed to fill the last spot on the Spokane staff. He ended up second on the team in wins (7), innings (72) and strikeouts (63).

Summary: The Royals had numerous extra picks for the second straight year and continued to stockpile pitching. Knowing what it would cost to sign those top picks, the club honed in almost exclusively on inexpensive college seniors from the sixth through the 15th rounds.

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