Next up in the draft preview series is the Kansas City Royals and their scouting director J.J. Picollo. Picollo’s latest history outside of the 2009 draft was in player development, but if you dig back far enough, you can look at his history as an area scout in the mid-Atlantic from 2000 to 2002.
Owner: David Glass, bought club in 2000
General Manager: Dayton Moore, hired in June 2006
Scouting Director: J.J. Picollo, first draft was 2009
2000 Draft: Mid-Atlantic Area Scout with Atlanta Braves
1. Aaron Herr, SS, Hempfield HS (PA), #40 Overall: Herr is the son of former Major Leaguer Tommy Herr, and most of his value was wrapped up in the experience of having those bloodlines. He didn’t stand out for tools, but was considered more refined than an average prep. Following players selected: Jason Stokes, Tagg Bozied, Bobby Hill. Signing bonus: $850,000.
2. Bubba Nelson, RHP, Riverdale Baptist HS (MD), #51 Overall: I read a book about Braves scouting from this draft, and Nelson had a big part in it. He wasn’t the most highly touted prep arm, as he was a hitting prospect, but this was a solid pick for draft position, though he turned out to be a lesser pro than expected. Following players selected: Tim Hummel, Chris Narveson, J.D. Durbin. Signing bonus: $675,000.
3. Kevin Cust, OF, Immaculata HS (NJ), #340 Overall: Meet Jack Cust’s brother. Seriously. Kevin had a stellar prep career, though he was less refined than most prep bats. He was out of pro baseball after only a couple years in the minors after signing as a draft-and-follow. He now works at his brother’s baseball academy. Following players selected: Pat Magness, Jason Kubel, Antoine Cameron. Signing bonus: Unknown.
Other Notable Selections: None.
2001 Draft: Mid-Atlantic Area Scout with Atlanta Braves
1. Billy McCarthy, OF, Rutgers, #195 Overall: McCarthy was a solid college hitter with average tools that fit well as an organizational player for the Braves. McCarthy was Picollo’s first sign in the 2001 draft, this being the sixth round. He topped out in AAA before leaving the pros. Following players selected: David Cash, Matt Vorwald, Sergio Mitre. Signing bonus: $120,000.
2. Anthony Lerew, RHP, Northern Senior HS (PA), #345 Overall: Lerew was Picollo’s next sign in the 11th round. Lerew wasn’t widely scouted, and this was about where most expected him to go. He’s obviously outperformed expectations so far, having reached the Major League level. Following players selected: Derin McMains, Kaulana Kuhaulua, Jason Blanton. Signing bonus: Unknown.
3. Kevin Barry, RHP, Rider (NJ), #435 Overall: Barry was a 14th rounder that had gone unsigned the previous year as a 15th rounder. College seniors are pretty common in this area of the draft, and he was seen as a middle reliever at best at the time. Turns out the scouting consensus was correct. Following players selected: Jeffrey Timmons, Brett Lawson, Kevin Hairr.
Other Notable Selections: None.
2002 Draft: Mid-Atlantic Area Scout with Atlanta Braves
1. Dan Meyer, LHP, James Madison, #34 Overall: Picollo’s only high-round pick of the 2002 draft, Meyer was a supplemental first rounder with talent that was perhaps a round lower than this draft slot. He was drafted due to his ability to move faster through the system and was part of the Tim Hudson deal that sent Hudson to the Braves from Oakland. Following players selected: Jeremy Brown, Chadd Blasko, Steve Obenchain. Signing bonus: $1,000,000.
Other Notable Selections: None.
2003 Draft: Mid-Atlantic Area Scout with Atlanta Braves
1. Asher Demme, RHP, South Lakes HS (VA), #187 Overall: Demme was a fairly projectable right-hander that was expected to go somewhere in this range as a signable prep arm. His fastball graded out as about average at the time, and he featured a solid curveball, though his refinement left something to be desired. Following players selected: Brian Henderson, Brian Montalbo, Matt Vasquez. Signing bonus: $160,000.
2004 Draft: Mid-Atlantic Area Scout with Atlanta Braves
No Selections from area.
2009 Draft: $7.0 Million Budget
1. Aaron Crow, RHP, Ft. Worth Cats (TX), #12 Overall: Crow was an unsigned first rounder from 2008, and he was expected to go in the first half of the first round again in 2009. He was seen as closed to a finished product, and this was a very solid pick. He should see the majors very soon. Following players selected: Grant Green, Matt Purke, Alex White. Signing bonus: $1,500,000*.
2. Wil Myers, C, Wesleyan Christian Academy (NC), #91 Overall: Myers was a first-round talent that fell due to high bonus demands. The Royals had been connected to Myers for their first-round pick leading up to June, but when Crow was available Myers fell. This was a great pick, and though it cost them a pretty penny, Myers was worth the money. Following players selected: Justin Marks, Robbie Erlin, Joe Gardner. Signing bonus: $2,000,000.
3. Chris Dwyer, LHP, Clemson, #122 Overall: Dwyer was the rare draft-eligible college freshman, and he was expected to extract as much money from that as possible. He had a first-round arm with third-round refinement, and he held out for a highly overslot bonus. This was a great pick for getting a great talent in the fourth round. Following players selected: Max Stassi, Andrew Doyle, Kyle Bellows. Signing bonus: $1,450,000.
4. Louis Coleman, RHP, LSU, #152 Overall: Coleman was a senior arm that started for LSU as their best arm outside of 2010 prospect Anthony Ranaudo. He was picked as a reliever, and though he was expected to go around this range, he was very affordable to sign. Solid pick. Following players selected: Steve Parker, Nick McBride, Austin Adams. Signing bonus: $100,000.
5. Cole White, RHP, New Mexico, #182 Overall: White was a fresh face on the prospect scene during his junior year, and he was fairly new to pitching entering his draft year. He has a arm that is a bit more live than Coleman, though this is about where both were expected to go. Following players selected: Ryan Ortiz, Ruben Sierra Jr., Ben Carlson. Signing bonus: $100,000.
Other Notable Selections: RHP Dusty Odenbach (8th), Connecticut, $150K bonus; 1B Geoff Baldwin (10th), Grand Junction HS (CO), $100K bonus; OF Lane Adams (13th), Red Oak HS (OK), $225K bonus; LHP Crawford Simmons (14th), Statesboro HS (GA), $450K bonus.
The Royals have about as scouting experience in their front office as any front office in all of baseball. Though Picollo has less experience than most scouting directors, he’s surrounded by a wealth of scouting talent, including former long-time Phillies scouting director Mike Arbuckle. Dayton Moore, Dean Taylor, Art Stewart, Donnie Williams, Brian Murphy, Louie Medina, Pat Jones, Mike Toomey, Gene Watson, Lonnie Goldberg, and Scott Sharp all have extensive scouting experience, and they’re all in the front office in Kansas City at the moment. This is on top of the usual scouting structure that the Royals employ. The one difference that Kansas City has is that Picollo is also in charge of the player development side of things, so he handles all things involving young players, which is a lot to handle. Most teams split the scouting and player development sides of things so that their scouting director isn’t overworked, but the Royals believe this is a positive structure. Since it’s a little early to pick up on trends for this draft, considering Picollo was only simply turning in times as an area scout, the only thing I can say is that Picollo seems to prefer either a very toolsy prep player or a very finished college player. Crow, Coleman, White, and Meyer match that on the college side, and Myers, Herr, and Nelson fit on the prep side. Dwyer might be seen as more a prep player, and he’s unique in his draft situation anyway. Overall, the trends aren’t quite apparent, but Picollo seems to be using the extensive experience in the front office well.
Draft budgeting has been healthy in recent years in Kansas City. Starting in Moore’s first real draft year in 2007, the Royals have been near or above $7 million in annual draft spending, with 2008’s $10+ million budget standing out as one the greatest drafts in terms of spending in recent memory. The common theme has been that the Royals have been drafting in the top half of each draft. Last year’s #12 slot came after picking at numbers two and three respectively for 2007 and 2008. The Royals are again in the top five for 2010, coming in at number four overall. Their other picks will come in at numbers 54, 86, 119 and every 30 picks after that, assuming that Rod Barajas signs a Major League contract with another team before the draft. Since the Royals don’t have any extra picks, I expect a fair amount of overslot bonuses handed out in later rounds again this year, but I also expect a fair amount of the budget to be handed to whoever they pick at number four. The common theme in recent Kansas City spending has been drafting the best first-rounder available, regardless of price. You can argue that Buster Posey or another 2008 product was better than Eric Hosmer, but Hosmer was tops on their board, though under a different scouting director. Mike Moustakas got $4 million, Hosmer $6 million, and last year’s pick Aaron Crow received a Major League contract. All signs point to them spending $7+ million again this year with an expensive first round pick.
At this moment I have the Royals picking whichever of the Harper/Ranaudo/Taillon group that falls to them at number four. It could be any order. Assuming that Harper goes first overall, which isn’t a sure thing but is how the boards currently stand, and the Pirates stay away from the prep arm in Taillon, it really depends on if the Orioles want Taillon at number three. The Pirates have other options in Christian Colon, Deck McGuire, and LeVon Washington, and my latest mock has Pittsburgh choosing Colon, meaning Ranaudo could be a logical choice here, though the Orioles would have a tough time choosing between Ranaudo and Taillon. I think the Royals will end up with either Taillon or Ranaudo in my opinion, and they’d be willing to pay Harper’s price in all likelihood. Other options could be LeVon Washington, A.J. Cole, Deck McGuire, and Dylan Covey. Looking beyond the first round, I’d look for signable prep arms or finished college products. Taijuan Walker might be a potential target, as could Michael Choice, Justin Grimm, and Jarrett Parker. Other later names to watch include Josh Spence, Matt Lipka, Evan Grills, and Matt den Dekker.
*Bonus information came from BA.
What do you guys think? What will the Royals do?