The Royals opted for two more pitchers in the second and third rounds Tuesday before switching to a college infielder and a high school catcher when Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft continued Tuesday in New York.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Vanderbilt lefty Sam Selman, 21, seems a bit of a projection pick in the second round with the 66th overall selection since, in contrast to first-round pick Kyle Zimmer, he has yet to establish himself as a front-line college starter.
“(Selman) was a guy who started to come on late,” scouting director Lonnie Goldberg said. “He looked like he was heading in the right direction. We talk in scouting terms — he was an arrow-up guy.”
The Royals went young in the third round by choosing lefty Colin Rodgers, a senior at Parkview Baptist School in Baton Rouge, La. Rodgers, 18, has signed to play collegiately at Auburn.
“We’ve been on him for about two years,” Goldberg said. “We think we’re getting another young lefty in our system who is polished. He’s got a breaking ball. He’s got good command. He’s got a good delivery and easy arm action.”
Stanford infielder Kenny Diekroeger, the club’s fourth-round pick, turned down $2 million in 2009 when selected as a high school senior by Tampa Bay in the second round. His college career was spotty, and he has yet to show much pop.
“It’s weird,” Goldberg said. “When you look at Kenny, watch him play, his numbers don’t add up. Sometimes, stats can be misleading. We think this guy has plus-plus makeup. We’re anxious to get a wood bat in his hand. We think he has a ton of upside.”
Catcher Chad Johnson of Galesburg (Ill.) High School might be another projection pick in the fifth round. He is an Illinois State recruit who drew late interest after hitting a homer into the right-field seats in April at Busch Stadium.
“He’s a projectable, young left-handed-hitting catcher,” Goldberg said. “In every draft, we want to make sure we get a catcher in the top five picks.”
The Royals used their only pick Monday — the fifth overall — to select Zimmer, a right-hander from the University of San Francisco. They took eight more pitchers Tuesday in their 14 picks.
Selman remains slender at 185 pounds on a 6-foot-3 frame but has gained 25 pounds over the last two years. His fastball sits in the low-90s but scouts say his secondary pitches need work.
“A wrap in his arm action,” Baseball America reported, “inhibits both his control and release point on his slider and changeup. Selman has upside and needs innings.”
Baseball America put Selman at No. 146 in their rankings of the draft’s top 500 prospects. It had Rodgers, who went with the 100th overall pick, at No. 207.
“Rodgers’ calling card last summer on the showcase circuit was his sharp breaking ball,” Baseball America reported. “At its best, it's a plus curveball thrown with some power in the 75-78 mph range.”
Diekroeger, 21, offers versatility since he played primarily third base as a freshman at Stanford before shifting to shortstop as a sophomore and primarily second base as a junior.
“Some scouts say he’ll end up as a utility player,” Baseball America reported, “because his versatility is more valuable than his pure offensive or defensive skill.”
Johnson ranked just No. 457 on Baseball America’s list but is characterized as a prospect who “could develop into a catcher with solid tools across the board.” He compensates for a below-average arm with a quick release.
Tuesday’s portion of the three-day draft covered rounds two through 15. The final 25 rounds take place today via teleconference from MLB headquarters in Manhattan. The signing deadline for all drafted players is 4 p.m. Central time on July 13.
New rules in place for this year’s draft create mounting penalties for teams that spend beyond a hard cap on bonus pools. The Royals have $6,101,500 for their first 10 picks. The slotted amount for Zimmer is $3.5 million.
The slot bonus is $781,600 for Selman, and $476,500 for Rodgers.
Clubs can agree to individual deals that are higher or lower than the slotted amount as long as they don’t exceed their overall pool. Penalties range from taxes on overages to the loss of future draft picks.
To reach Bob Dutton, call 816-234-4352 or send email to email@example.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/Royals_Report.