Draft 2014: Royals draft LHP Foster Griffin No. 28

KANSAS CITY -- Left-handed pitching was the Royals' emphasis in the first round of the First-Year Player Draft.

Foster Griffin, a high school left-hander from Orlando, Fla., was made the 28th selection of the Draft by the Royals on Thursday night. Earlier, they picked lefty Brandon Finnegan of TCU as No. 17.

Griffin is the taller of the two, however, at 6-foot-5 and 190 pounds, compared to Finnegan at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds.

"We mixed and matched," scouting director Lonnie Goldberg said.

The Royals received the 28th pick in the first round as compensation for the Braves signing free agent pitcher Ervin Santana.

2014 Draft Central

"We've seen him up to 94 [mph] with a plus breaking ball and a changeup, so we're excited to get him and I'm glad we had that extra pick," Goldberg said.

Griffin pitched for First Academy High School where he was also a hard-hitting outfielder. But the Royals see Griffin as a starting pitcher.

"He's got a really, really advanced feel for pitching and a really advanced feel for his body. Very athletic. He's got three pitches that he commands now," Goldberg said. "I see him as a really advanced high school arm. We were really excited that he was there. Know the family, know the kid, outstanding makeup."

Griffin's fastball is usually in the 90 to 94 mph range.

"On any given night, his changeup would be his best pitch or his curveball would be his best pitch," Goldberg said. "But when you talk to this young man, he knows pitching, he talks pitching which is unique for a high school player."

Reports say that Griffin is a strike-thrower who aggressively pounds the strike zone. In the National High School Invitational at the USA Baseball complex, Griffin was outstanding with a three-hit shutout and helped First Academy win the championship.

For First Academy, whose team nickname is Royals, Griffin pitched 13 games with a 7-2 record and a 1.55 ERA. In 58 2/3 innings, he struck out 99 and walked 19.

Also a fine hitter, Griffin had a .403 average with 29 hits and 18 RBIs. Just one home run, though.

Picked 28th in the Draft, Griffin also was the 28th-ranked player in MLB.com's Top 200 Prospects list.

His father, Fred Griffin, is director of the Grand Cypress Academy of Golf in Orlando.

Griffin is committed to the University of Mississippi. A bonus of $1,815,500 is allotted to the 28th slot.

"I think his commitment will be to the Kansas City Royals," Goldberg said.

The Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com pregame show begins at 11:30 a.m. CT, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at noon.

The Royals also selected catcher Chase Vallot with their 40th pick and right-handed pitcher Scott Blewett with their 56th pick.

"The fact that we had the four picks tonight was huge," Goldberg said. "A big night for the organization."

Royals draft TCU lefty Finnegan with first pick

Draft 2014: Royals draft LHP Brandon Finnegan No. 17

KANSAS CITY -- Brandon Finnegan found that being selected by the Royals in the first round of the First-Year Player Draft on Thursday night was an emotional experience.

"I was really excited. I heard my name called, and all I could do was put my head down and I just started crying," Finnegan said. "I was just happy to be called."

Finnegan, a left-handed pitcher from TCU, was the Royals' first-round pick and 17th overall. He was ranked 15th among MLB.com's Top 200 Prospects.

The Royals were one of just three teams to have four picks of the first 68 through the Draft's second round. They also took left-handed pitcher Foster Griffin at No. 28, catcher Chase Vallot at No. 40 and right-handed pitcher Scott Blewett at No. 56.

Finnegan, 21, was the 11th pitcher taken in the Draft and the seventh from a college.

"It sure didn't hurt that it was a college-advanced arm with pitchability and stuff. And a proven track record. A really tough kid," said Royals scouting director Lonnie Goldberg.

At 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, Finnegan is noted for a fastball that occasionally creeps into the high 90s and a deceptive delivery. He's also developed a slider as an effective secondary pitch.

"It's plus stuff, a big fastball anywhere from 90 to 97. Slider and changeup," Goldberg said. "Real big competitor -- that was probably the most consistent ingredient in all our reports."

He's projected as a pitcher who could succeed either as a starter or a reliever, possibly as a closer. However the Royals see him as a starting pitcher. So far in his junior season he has an 8-3 record and a 2.07 ERA.

"The highest I've ever hit was 99, but right now I've been 92-96, just throwing strikes and trying to get outs. Not trying to blow it past anybody," he said.

His TCU team plays Pepperdine this weekend for the right to advance to the College World Series, and he pitches on Saturday.

"It's obviously very unpredictable knowing who's going to get to you at No. 17, but we're really pleased," said general manager Dayton Moore. "We wanted to target some advanced college pitching, and we were fortunate that Finnegan was there. We scouted him all last summer, had a chance to see him quite a bit this season, and we think that he's going to be a quality starting pitcher in the Major Leagues for many years."

After leaving a game against Cal State-Northridge in late April, he was diagnosed with minor shoulder inflammation. He returned to pitching in May with no apparent problems.

"There was just a little inflammation in the shoulder. I think what caused it was sleeping on it wrong," Finnegan said. "I missed one start, came back and I felt great after that, honestly."

Finnegan was named to the Fort Worth Region All-Tournament team after tossing the first 7 1/3 innings of TCU's first-round win over Siena last Friday. He had five starts this season where he pitched seven innings or more without allowing a run.

Finnegan, in 15 starts and 91 1/3 innings, has notched 122 strikeouts against just 25 walks. He's given up 67 hits, including two homers, and 21 earned runs, holding opponents to a .206 average.

That was a big upgrade from his sophomore season for the Horned Frogs when he was winless with an 0-8 record but had a 3.18 ERA. In his freshman season, he was 4-5 with a 3.47 ERA.

Finnegan is a product of Southwest High in Fort Worth, Texas, where he was an all-state selection as an outfielder. In the 2011 Draft, he was picked in the 45th round by the Texas Rangers but did not sign and went to TCU.

The Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com pregame show begins at 11:30 a.m. CT, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at noon.

According to the slotting figures, the Royals have up to $2,200,600 to spend on Finnegan, and they believe that he's eager to get his pro career going.

At TCU, Finnegan's major was criminal justice. What did he intend to pursue with that degree?

"I had absolutely no clue," he said. "If anything I'd like to become a firefighter if it didn't work with baseball, I guess."

For now, Finnegan will just be putting out fires that develop with those wooden bats he'll be facing.

Right-handed-hitting Vallot made strong impression

Draft 2014: Royals draft C Chase Vallot No. 40

KANSAS CITY -- After taking two pitchers, the Royals went to the other side of the plate for their third selection on Thursday night in the First-Year Player Draft.

Catcher Chase Vallot, a high school power hitter from Louisiana, was the 40th selection in Competitive Balance Round A.

A right-handed batter, Vallot is 6-foot-1, weighs 205 pounds and played for St. Thomas More High School. He was ranked No. 49 in MLB.com's Top 200 Prospects.

The Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com pre-Draft show begins at 11:30 a.m. CT, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 12 p.m.

Vallot has above-average power with a quick swing, according to MLB.com reports. He performed well on the high school showcase circuit last summer, highlighted by winning the home run derby at the Perfect Game National in June.

"Real big power," said scouting director Lonnie Goldberg. "We had him here at our pre-Draft workout and he hit the furthest drive we've seen hit here in our pre-Drafts -- and we've had some big names here."

The ball landed near the Royals Hall of Fame building in left field at Kauffman Stadium.

Vallot had 62 RBIs in 36 games for his high school team with a .545 (54-for-99) average. He hit 13 home runs and 15 doubles. He was named the Gatorade Louisiana Player of the Year, helping the Cougars win the Class 4A state championship.

"Young, 17 years old. A chance to be an everyday catcher with that kind of power behind the plate and possible hitting in the middle of the order," Goldberg said. "Those guys are really hard to find. Great kid, very personable, outstanding family."

Vallot's considered a good-moving catcher with a plus arm, although his transfer and accuracy need some work.

"He's a hard worker, has a good arm. Just hasn't learned the nuances of catching but has the ingredients to stay behind the plate," Goldberg said. "Our guys are going to have fun with him."

A move to an outfield corner position is a possibility, but the Royals want him to catch.

"We look at him, obviously, as catching first and we believe that's the position he's going to play. The bat was special, a unique bat. He's only 17 years old and his makeup is outstanding. It's a pretty good package," Goldberg said.

Vallot is committed to Mississippi State. The Royals' allotment for the 40th slot is $1,420,800.

He was one of four players the Royals took on the first day of the Draft. The others were pitchers -- left-handers Brandon Finnegan and Foster Griffin and right-hander Scott Blewett.

"I'm very happy to get both a catcher and a catcher with power that got a chance to hit in the middle of the order," Goldberg said.

Royals find righty Blewett in second round

Draft 2014: Royals draft RHP Scott Blewett No. 56

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals, on their first day of the First-Year Player Draft, made it three pitchers out of four selections.

Right-hander Scott Blewett from Baker High School in Baldwinsville, N.Y., was the Royals' fourth choice on Thursday night and the 56th selection in the Draft's second round.

"Big, big power arm," said Royals scouting director Lonnie Goldberg. "A Chris Carpenter, Roy Halladay-type body and projection. Been up to 95 mph, good breaking ball. He has a commitment to St. John's."

Blewett is also a big guy, going 6-foot-6 and 210 pounds at age 18. He uses his size to throw his fastball on steep downhill, working at 91 to 95 mph. As he continues to grow, he's likely to show the higher velocity more consistently and deeper into games.

Blewett is working to improve his curveball, changeup and command, but his delivery is sound.

His career record at Baker High was 16-0 with a 1.01 ERA, with 195 strikeouts in 124 1/3 innings. He missed time in the short New York season this year with shoulder soreness and pitched just 30 innings.

The 56th selection is slotted at $1,003,200 by Major League Baseball.

The Royals also took left-handed pitchers Brandon Finnegan and Foster Griffin and catcher Chase Vallot in earlier picks.

The Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com pregame show begins at 11:30 a.m. CT, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at noon.