On Monday afternoon, just one week after the Major League Baseball draft, the Royals signed and introduced their first-round pick, first baseman Nick Pratto.
“Today is an extremely exciting day for our scouting staff and for this organization,” Royals director of scouting Lonnie Goldberg said. “We are bringing in one heck of a player and an incredible talent.
“For us, as a staff, to be able to complete this day and share this with Nick and his family, is truly an honor.”
Pratto’s deal of $3.45 million, reported by MLB.com, was not confirmed by the team.
Pratto, 18, flew to Kansas City with his parents, Jeff and Laura, on Sunday.
Royals scout Rich Amaral’s kids played youth baseball with Pratto, so he has watched and known Pratto for more than a decade.
“I did camps for the Little League, and Nick was a camper at age 8,” Amaral said. “He probably went to three or four different camps, and I’ve known him ever since.”
The connection didn’t stop there.
Amaral said he continued to watch Pratto as he progressed through Little League, to the travel-ball circuit in Southern California, up to the moment the Royals drafted him last Monday.
“It’s hard to get to know a player in a year. I’ve seen (Pratto) long enough to learn what he is all about,” Amaral said. “He loves baseball and he has a passion for the game. It’s easy for him and I have no worries about his makeup. He is a winner.”
Pratto, a 6-1, 195-pound first baseman, was selected 14th overall out of Huntington (Calif.) Beach High School, where he batted .318 with seven home runs and 19 RBI as a senior. Baseball America tabbed Pratto as the “Best High School Hitter” in this year’s draft.
“I would like to bring my style of play to Kansas City; I play hard and I play to win and I like to call myself a leader,” Pratto said.
Amaral, who has seen more of Pratto than anyone else, believes he is a combination of many players.
“He reminds me of a lot of different players. … He reminds of J.T. Snow as a defender because Nick really likes to play defense and is like a shortstop playing first base. He can also play both of the corner outfield spots,” Amaral said. “I have thought about a lot of different guys — Joey Votto and others — but I would say J.T. Snow would be my first pick.”
Snow, who was selected in the fifth round of the 1989 draft by the New York Yankees, won six Gold Gloves during 16 major-league seasons. The first baseman had a career .268 batting average, 189 home runs and 877 RBIs.
Pratto, who admits he barely remembers watching Snow when he was younger, said it’s not his job to compare himself to others.
“I never really tried to emulate one person, but I just try to go out there and play baseball,” Pratto said. People will compare me to people, but that’s not really my job.”
Pratto recounted the story of his first home run, which came at age 7 as a member of the Royals, where he waved his bat at a fastball above his eyes and then it went out.
The success for Pratto continued in 2011, when he drove in the game-winning run in the 2011 Little League World Series.
“That moment happened really fast. I just remember squaring it up, hitting it and rounding first and my teammates dogpiling on top of me,” Pratto said “Sharing that with my teammates and my dad was the best part.”
Pratto will leave Kansas City on Tuesday morning to report to Surprise, Ariz., to play for the Arizona League Royals for the summer.