The Royals announced they’ve signed first-round draft pick Ashe Russell, who was introduced at a news conference before Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals introduced first-round draft pick Ashe Russell on Wednesday during a pregame news conference at Kauffman Stadium before the Royals took on the Brewers.
Russell, a right-handed high school pitcher from Indianapolis, had trouble slipping on a Royals hat over his bushy brown hair.
“It’s an exciting day for our organization,” said Royals director of scouting Lonnie Goldberg, who joined general manager Dayton Moore at the news conference.
“He’s one of us. He’s a leader. He’s a team guy. He’s everything that we look for. He’s big. He’s physical. He throws strikes. He’s got good stuff and he’s gonna be a real good major-leaguer.”
Russell described what had been a hectic two weeks since the Royals selected him No. 21 overall on June 8.
“It’s been busy but it’s been very exciting,” he said. “It’s an honor, honestly. Been a little stressful on the parents, but I’ve handled it well.”
Russell, from Cathedral High, will report to Arizona for about 10 to 14 days to throw bullpen sessions and live batting practice, Goldberg said. From there, he will go to the Burlington Royals to pitch in the rookie-level Appalachian League.
The target for Russell will be for him to throw between 40 and 50 innings this year.
“As we do with all our pitchers our main objective is to keep him healthy,” Goldberg said. “He’ll get out and get a chance to compete, but he’s not gonna get overworked by any means.”
Russell, 6 feet 4 and 205 pounds, has drawn comparisons to Clay Buchholz and Justin Verlander for maintaining high-velocity pitches throughout the game. When asked to give a scouting report on himself, Russell said, “hard slider, swing-and-miss stuff, fastball has run, with room to improve command-wise.”
Nolan Watson, the Royals’ first-round compensatory pick for losing James Shields in free agency, is also from Indianapolis. Watson and Russell, drafted 33rd overall, grew up two miles apart, and their schools were township rivals, but they’ve cultivated a friendship over the years.
“Once he got his name called by Kansas City, it was pretty exciting for the both of us,” Russell said. “It definitely is going to help our friendship.”
Watson, from North Lawrence High School, remains unsigned. Earlier this week, the Royals announced 27 other draft picks had signed.
The terms of Russell’s contract weren’t disclosed, but Major League Baseball’s slot value for the 21st pick is $2,184,200.
Watson drew attention on draft day for his outgoing red and white shirt-and-tie combo, and said it’s an example of his laid-back nature.
“I’m a pretty free guy,” Russell said.
Royals signed picks
Cathedral HS (Indianapolis)
Padre Anibal Reyes Belen HS (P.R.)
Indian River State College (Fla.)
Wagner College (N.Y.)
Saint Joseph’s (Ind.)
Universidad Interamericana (P.R.)
Delta State (Miss.)
San Bernardino Valley College
Mesa Community College (Ariz.)
Note: Slot values for first 315 overall picks via Baseball America