Royals happy with 'balanced' Draft
Son of Triple-A Omaha manager Jirschele among picks
KANSAS CITY -- After two long and hard days of sitting in the war room and sifting through prospects, the Royals pronounced themselves well-satisfied as the First-Year Player Draft ended Wednesday."I think it was very balanced," said Deric Ladnier, the Royals' senior director of scouting. "There was a lot of emphasis put on skills and matching up the tools with the ability to perform." After making a splash with their No. 2 pick, hard-hitting third baseman Alex Gordon, the Royals took a high school shortstop and a college pitcher in the next two rounds. Using the 50th selection in the second round, the Royals took shortstop Jeffrey Bianchi from Lampeter-Strasburg High School in Pennsylvania. Bianchi, 18, has an offer to attend North Carolina State. He took a .535 average into the state high school tournament in which the Pioneers play Thursday in the quarterfinal round. "He's a five-tool shortstop," Ladnier said. "He's a way-above-average runner with way-above-average arm and hands. He has a very skilled approach to hitting and shows power." Bianchi's high school coach, Todd Garber, is the brother of the Royals' Minor League coordinator of instruction, Jeff Garber. "Bianchi was probably a surprise pick, but we didn't want to pass on him and risk losing him," Ladnier said. A right-handed batter, Bianchi hit .514 with seven homers and 27 RBIs in 2004 and .455 as a sophomore in 2003. The Royals used the 82nd selection in the third round to select right-handed pitcher Chris Nicoll of the University of California-Irvine. Nicoll, 21, was 6-4 with a 2.50 ERA for the Anteaters. He had 113 strikeouts and just 24 walks in 111 2/3 innings this season. "We feel he's a quick mover," general manager Allard Baird said. "He's a good strike-thrower who knows how to use his fastball. He's not afraid to throw his offspeed pitches when he's behind in the count." Ladnier said the Royals were entering intense negotiations with their top 16 picks and had signed their seventh-round choice, left-handed pitcher Brent Fisher. They dipped into the Royals' family for one selection, taking infielder Jeremy Jirschele, son of Triple-A Omaha manager Mike Jirschele. Following are the Royals' 50 picks with comments from Ladnier. Many of the lower picks are in the "draft and follow" category, which means the club will follow their progress this summer to determine if they should be signed. (*Indicates left-handed batter; **Indicates switch-hitter; others are right-handed batters.) Round 1: 3B Alex Gordon*, University of Nebraska. "Cornerstone piece of organization for years to come. Potential for 25 to 30 homers, .300 hitter. Exceptional leadership ability." Round 2: SS Jeffrey Bianchi, Lampeter-Strasburg (Pa.) High. "Five-tool shortstop with advanced skills for high school player. Unique ability. Will move quickly." Round 3: RHP Chris Nicoll, University of California-Irvine. "Three-pitch starter with advanced feel, very good command of strike zone." Round 4: CF Joseph Dickerson*, Esperanza (Calif.) High. "Very toolsy outfielder. Plus defensive ability. Can drive the ball in the gaps. Skill levels advanced." Round 5: SS Shawn Hayes*, Franklin Pierce (N.H.) College. "Physical shortstop at 6-4, 220 with above-average tools across the board. Exceptional numbers in wooden-bat league." Round 6: LHP Ryan Dipietro*, East Connecticut State. "Advanced feel for pitching. Fringy average fastball with above-average breaking ball and change. Good feel for strike zone." Round 7: LHP Brent Fisher*, Tolleson Union (Ariz.) High. "Average to above-average fastball with above-average breaking ball. Needs to develop changeup." Round 8: C Nicholas Doscher, Moore Catholic (N.Y.) High. "Plus defensive skills now, athletic player who had opportunity to play football. Average hitter with above-average power." Round 9: C Kiel Thibault, Gonzaga (Wash.) University. "Above-average receiver, very athletic, average bat, average power." Round 10: C Jeffrey Howell, Florida Southern College. "Above-average receiver, strong and durable frame, average bat, average power, good leadership ability." Round 11: RHP Michael Penn**, University of Michigan. "Average stuff across the board with above-average pitchability." Round 12: RHP James Harkcom, New Mexico Junior College. "Plus fastball, average breaking ball, needs to develop consistency with changeup." Round 13: CF Andrew Larsen, SUNY-Stony Brook. "Above-average speed. Plus defensive center fielder, strong body with average power. Fourth-outfielder type." Round 14: CF Antonio Sabatini, Erskine (S.C.) College. "Average across the board with plus power. Exceptional numbers, 102 hits in 234 at-bats." Round 15: C Brady Everett, Washington State University. "Above-average power, fringy-average defensive skills, very good plate discipline." Round 16: RHP Mario Santiago, Baton Rouge (La.) Community College. "Above-average fastball, plus changeup, needs to develop breaking ball." Round 17: SS Miguel Vasquez, DeWitt Clinton (N.Y.) High. "Draft and follow." Round 18: RHP Paul Raglione, Grant (Ore.) High. "Plus fastball, above-average command and very physical at 6-5, 195." Round 19: C Zane Chavez*, Fallbrook (Calif.) High. "Draft and follow." Round 20: RHP Bryan Casey, Arizona Western College. "Draft and follow." Round 21: RHP David Henninger, Messiah (Pa.) College. "6-7, 210, throws from three-quarter arm angle. Setup-type guy. Allowed just .179 average." Round 22: SS Justin Bristow, Mills E. Godwin (Va.) High. "Projected to be a first-round pick. Really a summer follow, signed to go to Auburn. Good talent will require high bonus." Round 23: RHP Matthew Kniginyzky, High Point (N.C.) University. "Canadian with above-average fastball and breaking ball. See him as a setup guy." Round 24: SS Joshua Colafemina, College of St. Rose (N.Y.). "Nicknamed 'the Rat,' can play anywhere, plus speed and defensive ability and can steal bases." Round 25: RHP Kevin Bulger, College of Charleston (S.C.). "Good arm strength, above-average fastball, needs to work on secondary pitches." Round 26: RHP Jake McLintock, San Diego State University. "Has pitched eight innings in collegiate career, converted outfielder, 95 mph fastball. A project." Round 27: 1B Jase Turner*, Pomona-Pitzer (Calif.) College. "Above-average power, more of a bat off the bench." Round 28: RF Felix Peguero*, Oklahoma Baptist University. "Above-average power, bat off the bench-type." Round 29: RHP Brandon Brantley, University of Science & Arts at Oklahoma. "Two average pitches, strike thrower, middle man, 6-4, 225." Round 30: 2B Jeremy Jirschele, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. "Very good defensive ability, a utility-type, just like his father." Round 31: SS Pedro Lopez**, Universidad del Turabo (Puerto Rico). "Utility-type, very good defensive skills, outstanding at turning a double play." Round 32: RHP Michael Dubee, Okaloosa Walton (Fla.) Community College. "Draft and follow." Round 33: RHP Daniel Gutierrez, Rubidoux (Calif.) High. "Draft and follow." Round 34: C Oscar Marrero**, Juan Antonio Corretjer Superio (Puerto Rico). "Catcher-first baseman, solid approach at the plate." Round 35: RHP Luke Burnett, Carthage (Texas) High. "Fringy, average-stuff across the board. 6-7, 250." The following all were listed in the "draft and follow" category by Ladnier: Round 36: C Matthew Klimas, Broken Arrow (Okla.) Senior High Round 37: CF Nickolas Love, Enterprise (Ala.) High Round 38: C Jacob Myking, San Joaquin Delta (Calif.) College Round 39: LHP Steve Teno, St. Thomas of Villanova (Canada) High Round 40: SS Nicholas Romero**, Eastlake (Calif.) High Round 41: SS Anthony Rodriguez, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy & High Round 42: RHP David McClain*, North Shore (Texas) High Round 43: RHP Tyler Backus, Mingus Union (Ariz.) High Round 44: RHP Mark Serrano*, Cypress (Calif.) College Round 45: RHP Eric Martinez*, Eastlake (Calif.) High Round 46: RHP Bryan Paukovits, El Capitan (Calif.) High Round 47: C Kip Masuda, Mid-Pacific (Hawaii) Institute Round 48: 1B Chester Wilson, St. Louis (Hawaii) School Round 49: RHP Matthew Gibbs, Modesto (Calif.) Junior College Round 50: RHP Juan Perez, Jose Rojaz Cortez Superio (Puerto Rico)
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. Correspondent Matt LaWell contributed to this article. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.