Nolan Watson’s arms slid into a white No. 33 Royals jersey at a news conference Thursday before the Royals’ series finale against the Brewers, and for the second time in as many days, the Royals announced the signing of a first-round draft pick.
Watson, from Lawrence North High, was the Royals’ compensation pick for losing James Shields in free agency last offseason. The pick was No. 33 overall, the same number Shields wore.
The Royals introduced fellow Indianapolis high-schooler Ashe Russell, the Royals’ pick at No. 21 overall, on Wednesday.
“We’re real excited to have another big power arm in our system,” Royals director of scouting Lonnie Goldberg said. “(He’s a) strike-thrower, competitor, winner, everything we’re looking for.”
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The terms of Watson’s deal weren’t disclosed, but Major League Baseball has the pick slotted for $1,825,200.
Drafting two prospects who grew up two miles apart meant for a busy spring for Royals’ area-scout Mike Farrell, who lives in Indianapolis.
“I just think I was fortunate,” Farrell said. “Both Ashe and Nolan — guys in my area, who I’ve known, both kids I love, both families I love.”
Farrell, who’s been with the Royals for two years, said the organization has allowed him to be “aggressive” in scouting high school talent and he made the most of that this year.
“I knew I had an opportunity because we’re just so much more aggressive when it comes to high school guys,” Farrell said of drafting Watson and Russell. “I just happened to have a couple in the backyard for me.”
Although they were high school rivals, Watson and Russell formed a friendship that will provide as a security net as the two work toward reaching the big leagues.
“If we have a bad day at the field we can always come talk to each other. We’re there for each other,” Watson said. “I guess we can be throwing partners.”
Like Russell, Watson is a hard-throwing right-hander, who establishes his fastball before mixing in a slider, curveball and changeup.
But that’s not where the similarities end, Farrell said, as both have a comparable demeanor and approach on the mound.
“I hope to believe they’ll bring that same energy, competitiveness, Indianapolis flavor, if you will, to the Kansas City Royals,” Farrell said.
Both Watson and Russell will leave for Arizona on Saturday for bullpen work and side sessions for about two weeks before reporting to the Royals’ rookie affiliate in Burlington, N.C., Goldberg said.
Farrell, a Royals scout for the past two seasons, had signed only one other first-round pick, Eric Arnett in 2009, when he worked for the Brewers.