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Royals make pitching prime priority in Draft

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals' plan to take advantage of the 2014 First-Year MLB Player Draft's abundance of pitching was evident as the three-day event concluded on Saturday.

Nineteen of Kansas City's 42 selections were pitchers, including its first-round choice and five of its first seven picks.

"Starting pitching is at a premium, the Draft is full of depth in pitching, we tried to attack it early," Royals director of scouting Lonnie Goldberg said.

Kansas City took TCU lefty Brandon Finnegan with its first round (17th overall) pick, then proceeded to select four more pitchers Rounds 1-5.

The Finnegan pick marked the first of three straight high school players selected by the club. The Royals used their second first-round pick on another lefty Foster Griffin from First Academy High School (Fla.). KC drafted 12 left-handed pitchers overall.

"I'm not sure if that was by design or if that's what our guys were out there looking for this year," Goldberg said.

Catcher Chase Vallot (St. Thomas More High School in Louisiana) followed in Competitive Balance Round A, then Kansas City took right-handed pitcher Scott Blewett (Baker High School in New York) in Round 2 to complete Day 1.

After the barrage of high schoolers, Kansas City reverted back to college products on Day 2.

Central Florida lefty Eric Skoglund (third round, 92nd overall) highlighted seven collegiate players -- of eight Day 2 selections -- coming to the Royals.

Fourth-round pick Dawon Burt was the only high school player taken on Day 2. The shortstop did not appear in Baseball America's Top 500 pre-Draft list.

"To be quite honest, our scout almost hid him out from us," Goldberg said. "He was kind of his guy, he loved him, he tried to tell us, 'Hey, don't come in and see him because then other team's will find out about him.'"

Day 3 was also heavy on college players as only eight of the Royals' 30 picks were high school players.

In the 29th round, the Royals took Vance Vizcaino, a third baseman from Glendale Community College and the father of Kansas City's national crosschecker Junior Vizcaino. Junior played in the Pirates organization from 1987-90.

"We've known [Vance] for a long time and he's playing out in Santa Barbara [Calif.] in the Summer League, so we're going to follow him out there and see how he does this summer, and see where it goes from there," Goldberg said."

Kansas City also nabbed 6-foot-8 Tulsa University punter Cole Way in the 38th round. Way was a left-handed pitcher in high school, but Tulsa does not offer a baseball program.

"Our scout Rich Amaral worked him out in California and called us and said, 'This kid looks OK,' and we brought him to our workout," Goldberg said. "Not sure exactly how it's going to work out, what we're going to do with him yet, but he threw he ball pretty good; 86-to-89 [mph] for not having to pitch in three of four years."

Other notable Day 3 selections included right-handed pitcher Evan Beal (21st round, South Carolina), whom the Royals took in Round 11 of the 2011 Draft; Scott Heineman (19th round, Oregon), an outfielder who missed nearly his entire junior year with a torn labrum; and 30th-rounder Ryan Lillard (Urbansville, La. High School), a top high school third-base prospect, who recently learned he'll require Tommy John surgery.

The Royals took 19 pitchers, nine outfielders, five catchers, three shortstops, three third basemen, two first basemen and one second baseman. They waited until their final pick to take a second baseman, as Diego Francisco -- assistant to the general manager Renee Francisco's son -- went in the 40th round.

Jackson Alexander is an associate reporter for

Kansas City Royals