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Royals pleased with balance of their 2013 Draft

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals didn't go into the 2013 First-Year Player Draft looking for anyone in particular, so naturally they came out of it with a lot of variety.

Assistant general manager for scouting and player development J.J. Picollo said it was about finding a balance.

"This year, while we didn't have a necessary area to fill, [we felt] if we could get a good mix of pitchers and hitters we would be happy," Picollo said.

With the eighth overall pick, the Royals selected Hunter Dozier, a shortstop from Stephen F. Austin University. He was their second shortstop take in the first round in four years, with a pitcher and outfielder in between.

Dozier batted .396 with 17 home runs and 52 RBIs this season. He led the Southland Conference in batting average, slugging percentage, doubles and home runs. He was a two-time All-Southland Conference selection, becoming the first player in program history to accomplish that feat.

The Royals followed up that selection with a trio of pitchers: lefty Sean Manaea from Indiana State, another lefty in Cody Reed from Northwest Mississippi Community College and a righty in Carter Hope from The Woodlands High School in Texas.

From there, they nabbed a couple of position players. In the fourth round it was Zane Evans, a catcher from Georgia Tech, and in the fifth, Amalani Fukofuka, a center fielder from James Logan High School in Union City, Calif.

"When I look at our top five picks, we were able to get a high-ceiling bat in Hunter Dozier, two left-handed pitchers in Manaea and Reed, a projectable, young high school pitcher in Hope, and a catcher right there after Hope in the fourth round, then in the fifth round, we got a high-ceiling, athletic guy in Fukofuka," Picollo said.

A team can't get much more of a balance in the first five rounds. That trend continued throughout the night, as selections rolled in from each position and every level.

In total, the Royals took 21 pitchers and 20 position players, with a handful of local talent from area high schools and colleges. Among those was Kevin Kuntz, a shortstop at the University of Kansas who led the nation in sacrifice bunts and is the son of first-base coach Rusty Kuntz.

For local representation, Kuntz was joined by Kansas State first baseman Shane Conlon and Keeton Steele from the University of Missouri. The Royals also selected two players from Kansas City high schools, shortstop Logan Gray from Rockhurst High School and Dalton Moats, a pitcher from Park Hill Senior High School.

"We've maintained, through our tenure here that, we would really pay attention to local kids," Picollo said. "You're not going to get all of them, but we scout this area as hard as we scout any other area, if not more."

They also focused on finding seasoned talent in the early rounds, saving the majority of their 12 high school selection for the later rounds. There were 21 selections from four-year colleges and eight junior-college players selected.

"The way the system is set up, last year, a lot of high school kids had signed. And now that we're in our sixth year, we didn't know which way it would go, but signability always becomes an issue with high school players," Picollo said. "With the way the system is set up now, if you don't feel like that player will sign for the amount you'd like to sign him for, sometimes you have to pass on a player."

Clearly the Royals didn't necessarily set out to avoid prep stars, since they chose two in the first five rounds. They simply followed the Draft board.

"The way things evolved this year, especially up high, we ended up with three college players right out of the gate, but they were the best players, in our opinions," Picollo said.

All three days followed the same general pattern, with balance between the positions as the main objective. The Royals alternated between choosing pitchers and position players to slowly build a more complete roster at each spot.

"We're real happy," Picollo said. "We always go into the Draft with the philosophy in mind that we always need pitching. We like to get a bat or two."

They accomplished both of those this year.

Kathleen Gier is an associate reporter for

Kansas City Royals