The more time the Royals spent with Hunter Dozier, the more the club fell in love with the junior shortstop from Stephen F. Austin.
“We followed him all throughout the year and as we got into the room and started putting everything together, he kind of became our favorite player,” director of scouting Lonnie Goldberg said. “We’re excited to get him.”
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Club officials, including general manager Dayton Moore and assistant general manager J.J. Picollo, lauded Dozier’s power but were particularly effusive regarding his makeup and leadership Thursday when discussing why he was selected with the No. 8 overall pick in baseball’s First-Year Player Draft.
“We loved his athleticism,” Goldberg said. “He’s a big, physical kid, plays shortstop and has big-time power. With the complete package of his makeup — his makeup’s off the charts — we fell in love with the kid early.”
The club is confident fans, many of whom groaned “Who?” when the Royals’ first-round pick was announced, will warm to the powerfully built right-handed slugger.
Most projections had Dozier — a 6-foot-4, 220-pound native of Denton, Texas — going in the late first or early second round after he batted .396/.482/.755 with 17 home runs last season for the Lumberjacks. He also stole 12 bases.
Dozier, 21, hit .357 with a 1.036 OPS and 32 home runs in three seasons at Stephen F. Austin.
The Royals, who expect Dozier to start at either short-season Idaho Falls or Burlington, haven’t decided if he’ll remain at shortstop.
Many scouting reports indicate that he’ll likely wind up at third base and more than a few also mention second base as a possibility.
At least initially, the Royals seem inclined to leave keep him at shortstop and see how he adapts to the position as a professional.
“We all know we’ve got depth at our shortstop position, but we believe in his ability to play defense,” Picollo said. “If you get a guy who can play shortstop and help the club at shortstop, we need to know that, so I would anticipate that he’ll get time at shortstop.”
Dozier landed at Stephen F. Austin, where he majored in kinesiology, when his recruitment tapered off after he broke his left collarbone playing football as a junior in high school.