Every year, Royals vice president and assistant general manager J.J. Picollo watches and observes as upwards of 1,200 baseball players are selected in the MLB draft.
Kansas City often sees a couple of local names tossed in the hat, but this year, Picollo had a vested interest.
His son, Mike Picollo, was projected to be picked in the draft straight out of high school. And as expected, the younger Picollo, a right-handed pitcher, was selected on Wednesday by the New York Mets straight out of Blue Valley North in the 33rd round, 980th overall.
“It was neat,” J.J. said. “You sit here and you listen to 1,200 names a year, and to hear your son, you can’t help but be proud.”
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“He’s worked hard, and it’s always been a dream of his to play professional baseball, but it’s just a step along,” J.J. continued. “He’s kind of a long-term projection-type kid, so he’s got a ways to go.”
Picollo will be joined in the Mets organization by Brian Sharp, a junior third baseman out of Missouri. Sharp spent his high school years at Liberty North High, where he still holds the school record in 11 categories, including career hits (130) and career RBIs (74).
While listed as a third baseman on MLB.com’s Draft Tracker, Sharp has spent much of his time at Missouri on the mound, pitching to a record of 4-0 with a 3.38 ERA in 2018. Sharp’s versatility to play in the infield or on the mound will be a huge asset to his progression through the minor leagues.
Additionally, another right-handed pitcher from Kansas City is heading to the pros, as Arkansas’ Isaiah Campbell was drafted Wednesday by the L.A. Angels. Campbell, who graduated from Olathe South in 2015, was selected in the 24th round, 721st overall.
Standing 6-foot-5 and 225-pounds, Campbell looks more like a guy accustomed to the hardwood floor of a basketball court. But his height and weight help the righty throw mid-90s fastballs.
A pair of KC area shortstops will also both be turning pro together, as they were drafted by the Washington Nationals.
Colton Pogue, a junior from Pittsburgh State and Blue Springs South grad, was selected in the 29th round, 881st overall. Wichita State’s senior Trey Vickers, a Rockhurst grad, was picked up by the Nats in the 30th round, 991st overall.
“To be honest, I had tears in my eyes,” Pogue said. “When I saw my name on the MLB.com draft board, I jumped right out of bed and called my mom.”
The next person on Pogue’s list to call was Vickers, after realizing they would be playing for the same organization.
Pogue and Vickers have spent over three-quarters of their lives playing against each other, as early as age 8, when Vickers played on the "Tigers" and Pogue was with the "Yankees," Vickers said.
Now, finally on the same team and in the same position, Vickers is sure there will be some friendly rivalry.
“I’m sure there will be (competition) — we’re all competitive people, especially when you get to this level,” Vickers said. “And I’m sure it will be fun and exciting to play with each other every day and kind of compete against each other.”
Caleb Marquez was also selected in the 39th round, 1,175th overall, by the Milwaukee Brewers. Marquez is a senior catcher out of Blue Springs High.
Former Mill Valley left-hander Lucas Krull of Jefferson College went 1,006th overall to the San Francisco Giants in the 34th round. Saint Louis senior shortstop Alex King, from St. James Academy, went with the 1,059th pick in the 35th round to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Columbia College senior right fielder Andrew Warner, formerly of Lee's Summit North, was picked in the 40th and final round, 1,203rd overall, by the St. Louis Cardinals.