Passing on pitcher, Royals select SS Dozier at No. 8
Kansas City banks on power with first pick despite pre-Draft speculation
KANSAS CITY -- Surprise: The Royals took shortstop Hunter Dozier as their first-round selection in the First-Year Player Draft on Thursday night. He was the eighth pick overall.
Most analysts forecast the Royals would take a pitcher in the first round.
"It's always unpredictable," said general manager Dayton Moore.
Dozier, from Stephen F. Austin State in Texas, is a 6-foot-4, 220-pound right-handed batter who is projected by some observers to be a 20-to-25 home run hitter in the Major Leagues. This year in college, he hit .396 with 17 home runs and 52 RBIs in 55 games.
|1||HOU||RHP Mark Appel|
|2||CHC||3B Kris Bryant|
|3||COL||RHP Jonathan Gray|
|4||MIN||RHP Kohl Stewart|
|5||CLE||OF Clint Frazier|
|6||MIA||3B Colin Moran|
|7||BOS||LHP Trey Ball|
|8||KC||SS Hunter Dozier|
|9||PIT||OF Austin Meadows|
|10||TOR||RHP Phillip Bickford|
|11||NYM||1B Dominic Smith|
|12||SEA||3B D.J. Peterson|
|13||SD||OF Hunter Renfroe|
|14||PIT||C Reese McGuire|
|15||ARI||RHP Braden Shipley|
|16||PHI||SS J.P. Crawford|
|17||CWS||SS Tim Anderson|
|18||LAD||RHP Chris Anderson|
|19||STL||LHP Marco Gonzales|
|20||DET||RHP Jonathon Crawford|
|21||TB||C Nick Ciuffo|
|22||BAL||RHP Hunter Harvey|
|23||TEX||RHP Alex Gonzalez|
|24||OAK||CF Billy McKinney|
|25||SF||SS Christian Arroyo|
|26||NYY||3B Eric Jagielo|
|27||CIN||CF Phillip Ervin|
|28||STL||LHP Rob Kaminsky|
|29||TB||RHP Ryne Stanek|
|30||TEX||SS Travis Demeritte|
|31||ATL||RHP Jason Hursh|
|32||NYY||CF Aaron Judge|
|33||NYY||LHP Ian Clarkin|
"These are the guys that we go out and look for," said Lonnie Goldberg, the Royals' director of scouting. "They're big, they're athletic, they're physical. They've got a chance to put the ball into the seats. And he's got plus makeup. He exemplifies the type of player we need in this organization."
Goldberg said that Dozier has "big-time power" to all fields and is not just a pull hitter.
He wasn't among the most highly regarded Draft prospects, rating No. 46 on MLB.com's Top 100.
"He might not have been known publicly or nationally as much as some of the other players that have been talked about, but in our Draft room, he very much was," Goldberg said.
But that situation could work to the Royals' advantage monetarily. They also drafted left-handed pitcher Sean Manaea, the 34th choice overall but a high first-round possibility before a hip ailment surfaced. The Royals are expected to sign Dozier for less than the $3,137,800 pegged for his slot and apply some of the savings to boost Manaea's figure above the slotted $1,623,000.
"We have a pretty good feel of what the dollars are going to be," Moore said.
Dozier's advisor is Will McGuffey of Frontline Athletic Management. Manaea is represented by Scott Boras.
"We haven't decided on [a deal] yet, and I don't know when I'll know," Dozier said on a conference call.
The Royals' third choice in the Draft on Thursday night was another left-handed pitcher, Cody Reed, who went in the second round and was the 46th player chosen overall.
Their first-round pick of a slugger in Dozier caught the experts off guard.
Pre-Draft speculation had the Royals likely to take a pitcher -- Trey Ball, Braden Shipley and Phil Bickford were prominently mentioned. However, Ball was taken just prior to the Royals' pick by the Red Sox. Bickford went 10th to the Blue Jays and Shipley 15th to the Diamondbacks.
At Dozier's size, it's speculated that he might move to third base when he turns pro. Second base and outfield are also possibilities. But shortstop was his position at Stephen F. Austin.
"I know that's what he wants to play," Goldberg said. "We'll see how that plays out. He's gifted enough to move around."
At the Major League level, third base is occupied by Mike Moustakas, the Royals' first-round choice in 2007 and currently battling to emerge from a season-long slump. But that wasn't a factor in Dozier's selection, according to Moore.
"No, it has nothing to do with that," Moore said. "We took the player that we felt was going to be the most impactful guy for us."
He was followed by South Texas scout Mitch Thompson and cross-checked by Mitch Webster. The Royals further assessed Dozier at a workout last Saturday at Kauffman Stadium.
"We fell in love with the kid early, we tracked him all throughout the year," Goldberg said. "We got a chance to bring him into the stadium here at the end, and he kind of won us over even more."
Dozier got his first swings at Kauffman with its generous dimensions.
"It was a gorgeous stadium, it's definitely a big ballpark," Dozier said. "But I'll tell you, in BP, I hit a couple out, but it's a big ballpark and I'm going to have to grow and get stronger and get better every day so I can play in that stadium later on and become an even better power hitter."
Dozier, 21, was a Louisville Slugger All-American this year and was an All-Southland Conference selection for the second time. In 2012, he hit .357 with 10 homers and 37 RBIs.
His major at Stephen F. Austin was kinesiology.
"I have above a 3.0 GPA, and I've always been interested in kinesiology about how the body moves and works," he said. "If baseball doesn't work, I'd love to be a strength and conditioning coach for a Major League Baseball team."
Dozier was a multi-sport athlete at Denton (Texas) High School, combining pitching with shortstop for the baseball team and playing quarterback in football. But his football career was hampered by a broken collarbone in his junior year.
Day 2 of the Draft continues with Rounds 3-10, streamed live on MLB.com on Friday, beginning with a preview show at 11:30 a.m. CT. And Rounds 11-40 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Saturday, starting at noon.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
In the Pipeline: Dozier, if he signs, likely will start at one of the Royals' short-season Rookie classification teams at Idaho Falls or Burlington, N.C., according to J.J. Picollo, assistant general manager of scouting and player development. He'll probably play shortstop, at least initially.
"We all know we have depth at our shortstop position, but we believe in his ability to play defense," Picollo said. "And if you've got a guy that can help the club at shortstop, we need to know that. So I would anticipate that he'll get time at shortstop."
The Royals don't have a lot of depth at third base, so if he shifts to that position, he's likely to move up quickly.
Manaea apparently won't get situated in the system until the 2014 season because he's facing hip surgery. Reed, when he signs, will join one of the short-season Rookie clubs.
Royals draft two big lefties in Manaea, Reed
KANSAS CITY -- Left-handed pitcher Sean Manaea, the Royals' second choice in the First-Year Player Draft on Thursday night, is an interesting selection on two counts.
First, he probably won't pitch this season because he's apparently headed for hip surgery, and second, he'll figure in a money-sharing scenario with the Royals' top choice, shortstop Hunter Dozier.
Manaea, a 6-foot-5 left-hander from Indiana State University, was the 34th overall choice in the Draft as the Royals got the first pick of the Competitive Balance Round, determined by a drawing among 13 of the lowest-budget, small-market clubs.
The Royals continued that theme with the selection of another 6-foot-5 left-handed pitcher, Cody Reed of Northwest Mississippi Community College, as their second-round selection (46th overall).
A hard-throwing junior, Manaea had a 5-4 record and a 1.47 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 73 1/3 innings this year for Indiana State but also had a right hip ailment that caused many clubs to drop him from first-round consideration.
"It's something that I would consider minor in the sense that it's a common injury that can occur in a hip, and it's something that I'm comfortable with in assessing the Draft medical," said Dr. Vincent Key, the Royals' head team physician. "He's going to most likely need a procedure on the hip but ... there are numerous athletes that have had this procedure and have done very well."
One of those athletes is Royals left fielder Alex Gordon, and Manaea is headed for the same surgeon, Dr. Marc Philippon of Vail, Colo.
Key called Manaea's ailment an "impingement" that involves labral and bone issues, both of which could be repaired in the same surgical procedure. Recovery time is usually from two to three months.
"He should be ready for Spring Training," Key said.
The Royals are expected to sign their first-round pick, Dozier, for less than the $3,137,800 allotted in their pool for the No. 8 overall selection. The excess then could be spent to increase the $1,623,000 ticketed for Manaea's slot as the 34th overall pick.
Manaea, 21, was ranked 13th in MLB.com's pre-Draft Top 100, while Dozier was 46th. The Royals' total Draft allotment is $8,290,700, ranking sixth among Major League clubs.
"We're no different than any other club," general manager Dayton Moore said. "You want to use those dollars wisely to maximize your picks, and that's what we try to do."
Manaea was regarded as a high first-round choice before his hip ailment surfaced, and clubs cautiously backed off. When their chance came one pick after the first round, the Royals grabbed him.
"It's the scenario that we had in mind," Moore said.
Manaea surged into prominence last summer in the Cape Cod League, where he was 5-1 with a 1.22 ERA and 85 strikeouts in just 51 2/3 innings. He was named the league's outstanding pro prospect.
"This guy coming into this year was at the very top of our board," Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said. "He had an outstanding summer at the Cape, our reports were top-notch. Early reports this season were top-notch."
Manaea tried to pitch through his hip ailment at Indiana State, and it worsened. Even so, Picollo said that the Royals still were considering him as a first-round possibility as recently as Wednesday.
Reed, 20, has a collegiate commitment to Ole Miss, but Lonnie Goldberg, the Royals' director of scouting, expects him to sign. His slot number is $1,198,500.
For Northwest Mississippi, Reed had an 8-3 record with a 2.39 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 73 1/3 innings. He pitched five complete games.
"I think we're catching him on the rise. So we're pretty fortunate to get two big arms to follow right behind Hunter," Goldberg said.
Goldberg saw more similarities than size in the two left-handed pitchers.
"Both of them being big and left-handed helps," Goldberg said. "Both of them have been up to 95, 96 [mph], with breaking balls, both are competitive, both have had success, both have swing-and-miss fastballs."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.