Editor's note: The following is a report on RC's encounter with a high-ranking Royals official at the California-Carolina League All Star Game in Frederick, MD, on June 28, 2005.
was heading down to our seat, we noticed the area around the Official RC
seat was crowded with a bunch of annoying-looking people who had brought along a bunch of annoying-looking little brats (kids, not sausages). Therefore, RC
quickly made the decision to scoot over a row to a relatively unoccupied section directly behind home plate. Unbeknownst to us at the time, directly behind this new seat sat two scouts from unidentified organizations.
Shortly after sitting down, we heard another person come down to take a seat behind us. As he was sitting down, he recognized one of the two scouts but introduced himself to the other. RC
pretended we weren’t eavesdropping, but in reality, we were. We recognized this new person’s name, and we were pretty sure he worked in the Royals organization. This was confirmed shortly thereafter, when the three scouts began talking about Royals second round pick Jeffrey Bianchi
. At that point, RC asked if the fellow behind us did indeed work for the Royals, and we struck up a conversation with him.
What follows is a summary of that conversation. We are withholding the Royals official’s name (we’ll refer to him henceforth as “RO”), since he wasn’t aware that he was talking to the publisher of the fastest-growing Royals blog of all time. Where possible, we’ve used his exact words, and in other parts, we’re paraphrasing. Anything in quotations is a direct quote, or extremely close, give or take a word or two. In addition, some of this information was gleaned from the conversations RO had with the two scouts he was also conversing with.On the 2005 draftees: Perhaps the most exciting news of the evening was about Bianchi. When the Royals took Bianchi with their second round pick, a lot of people criticized them for overdrafting, contending that Bianchi was simply a signability pick. After all, most organizations and publications had him pegged as a fourth round pick. Well, the scouts at the game yesterday would beg to differ. One of the scouts had just come from Arizona, where he saw Bianchi play. He was heaping praise upon RO, and he said the words that we imagine make any scout shine with pride: “We saw him wrong.” Essentially, the scout was admitting that everyone had Bianchi pegged all wrong, and that the Royals made a great pick with his selection. This scout pointed to one aspect of Bianchi’s game in particular that had been vastly underrated by most other teams in baseball – his speed. “We had him running a 4.3,” said the scout, “and he just ran a 4.06 and a 4.09.”
“We were lucky,” said RO, but RC is convinced that comment was just false modesty. Bianchi’s current stats in Arizona: .500/.550/.938 with 1 HR through five games. Of course, that was before he collected two more hits today, including his second HR. RC is certain that he’s someone to keep an eye on.
Beyond Bianchi, RC asked about Alex Gordon, Justin Bristow, and Chris Nicoll, and asked how close each was to signing. We got no new information about Gordon, as RO repeated the company line that the Royals “know the kid wants to play,” but that negotiations had just begun. When asked if there was any chance Bristow would sign with KC, RO laughed and said, “Let me put it this way. We’re not counting on it.” As for Nicoll, RO isn’t concerned that he hasn’t signed yet. “Nicoll threw a lot of innings this year,” said RO, so the Royals aren’t concerned about a holdout because they probably wouldn’t have let him pitch much this year anyway. RO is confident, however, that he will sign eventually.On the Idaho Falls middle infield: RC asked RO if he had made it out to Idaho Falls yet this year (which in retrospect was a dumb question, because ID Falls just started), and RO said he hadn’t. However, without hesitation, RO made a point to mention how excited he was about shortstop Chris McConnell, the Royals’ ninth round pick in the 2004 draft. RC asked if that meant that Gary Perez’s move to 2B was permanent, and RO quickly responded by saying “No, we just like to move our middle infielders around.” We asked if the Royals were still high on Perez, and RO said “yes, but he’ll have to prove himself.” RC then mentioned that we noticed Donnie Murphy was playing a lot of shortstop lately, but RO didn’t really respond to that. He probably figured RC was showing off at that point, which we were. On the High Desert prospects: This conversation began and ended with Billy Butler. RO lamented the difficultly involved in evaluating both pitchers and hitters at High Desert. To this, RC said it would be interesting to see what Butler could do in the Carolina League. RO chuckled and quickly dismissed that notion, saying “I’m sure he’d do fine.” We asked if RO had been on hand for the home run derby earlier in the day, and RO said he had, and that Butler “sure has some juice.” Of course, RC had to ask if Butler was going to be in High Desert much longer, and RO said it would probably be another month, quickly pointing out (and possibly correcting himself) that he still must learn to play LF.
RC also overheard some of RO’s conversation with the other scouts about Butler. RO was very impressed when Butler walked in the All Star game, stressing to the other scouts how great it was that Butler is content to take two close pitches (both high fastballs) in order to take a walk. Furthermore, he recounted a story to them about how a while back a scout from another organization said to him that he would be concerned that Butler doesn’t have a position. “He does have a position,” retorted RO. “Hitter.” RC got a chuckle out of that one. By the way, here’s the best closeup photo we got of Butler yesterday:
RC then asked about the effect the California League might be having on some other players who are having stellar seasons for the Mavericks. RO is convinced that Chris Lubanski’s power surge is real, and he thinks Lubanski’s power will be his best tool, whereas when he was drafted, people thought he’d be more of a speed guy, like Johnny Damon. He said that Lubanski just kills the ball, but that he still strikes out too much.
When we asked if the same was true of Adam Keim, RO was far more cagey, leading RC to the conclusion that RO believes Keim has probably benefited quite a bit from High Desert. RO did say, however, that Keim will most likely be headed back to Wichita soon. We asked what RO thought of Kila Kaaihue, and he said that Kaaihue is a good player, but he’s very streaky. By the way, here’s a couple cool photos of Kaaihue that we snapped yesterday, in case anyone doesn’t know what he looks like:
A couple other miscellaneous notes from our conversation: RC asked RO what he thought of Mike Aviles. At this, RO’s face lit up. “We view him as more of a utility player,” said RO, “but he’s the type of guy who just keeps proving himself at every level until you run out of places to send him.” We asked him if Aviles might be in KC this year, and RO responded with a quick "No," but he then backtracked by adding the caveat that you never know what can happen if injuries hit. RC was going to ask if potential trades fit into that caveat as well, but we didn't want to push our luck.
Finally, we also overheard the scouts talking about J.P. Howell. RO is clearly proud of Howell, as he began mockingly going on and on about how Howell is "just another soft-tossing lefty." The other scouts got a laugh, and one told RO that he told another scout that Howell had "the heaviest curveball he'll ever see." RO agreed, and RC felt like the luckiest fan on earth to be able to hear such things.
That's all for now, but be sure to check back tomorrow as we recount some interesting things we saw in Colorado, complete with -- you guessed it -- original RC photos.