Top draft pick Bobby Witt Jr. slips on a Royals uniform for the first time
Bobby Witt Jr. removed his suit coat, and after being handed a button-up Royals jersey at a Wednesday news conference at Kauffman Stadium, slipped it over his shoulders.
“Sweet,” he said, smiling just a second after the white shirt hit his back.
Next came the blue “KC” Royals cap, which he placed on top of his head before turning to those around him: “How’s it look? Good?”
If any excitement had worn off following Witt being taken with the second overall pick in the MLB Draft last week, it sure didn’t show during his first public appearance in Kansas City.
The occasion? Witt — the top high school baseball player in the country — was officially a Royal after signing with the organization. The final deal was for $7.7899 million, the full slot value of the No. 2 overall pick, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
The Royals did not disclose terms of the signing.
“I don’t really have words to describe,” Witt said, “how grateful I am to be a part of this.”
Witt, who turns 19 on Friday, has had a busy month, which included him leading Colleyville Heritage to its first Texas high school state championship days after being selected in the draft. He batted .500 with 15 home runs and 44 RBIs in 38 games in his senior season.
“I haven’t really got too much sleep, honestly,” Witt said of his last two weeks. “I’ve been dreaming about this, and then kind of still dreaming it right now. Dreams are starting to become reality.”
Some scouts have labeled Witt the best high school shortstop prospect in a generation. A month ago, he won the Gatorade national high school baseball player of the year award.
Royals general manager Dayton Moore said the selection of Witt was about more than just on-the-field accomplishments, though, labeling him as “our kind of guy.”
“He’s obviously the player everybody gravitates to, that everybody wants to watch,” Moore said. “(But) he treats everyone else like they’re the first-rounder. He treats everyone else like they’re more special, and that’s a great quality to have.”
Royals scouting director Lonnie Goldberg, when asked about Witt’s character, said he drove to the stadium on Wednesday thinking about similarities between him and the Royals’ top pick in 2005, also No. 2 overall.
“I was thinking of what Alex Gordon means to this city, not only as a player, but as a person and what he stands for,” Goldberg said. “I think Junior has the same qualities that Alex has. I hope Junior is here as long as Alex has been here.”
Royals area scout Chad Lee, who was part of a Royals staff that attended each of Witt’s games his senior year, also spoke to the shortstop’s makeup.
“In my seven years of scouting, this is the No. 1 kid that just, whether he’s having a good game or bad game, he’s always got the energy,” Lee said. “He’s always got a smile on his face.”
Bobby Jr.’s father, Bobby Witt Sr., pitched 16 years in the major leagues after being selected third overall in the 1985 MLB Draft. He also represented his son as his agent.
Witt Sr. attended Wednesday’s ceremony with his son, along with his wife, Laurie, and Witt Jr.’s girlfriend, Maggie Black.
Moore said the Royals had not yet determined when Witt Jr. would officially start in the minors, though discussion on that would take place soon. He did offer that Witt probably would be “out playing soon,” with the Arizona Rookie League as the likely destination.
The Star’s Lynn Worthy contributed to this report