Crow ready to set sights on bright future
Royals' top Draft pick a year
older, but a year wiser, too
10:35 AM ET
CITY -- The calls kept coming, one by one. Calls from family and friends and reporters. All wanting to talk to the Kansas
City Royals' newest first-round Draft choice.
Crow didn't have too much to say. It was a Tuesday night and he'd just been picked by his childhood team. The team that was
just an hour down the road from his hometown of Wakarusa, Kan., just outside of Topeka. But Crow kept it cool.
it was because he'd been through this before. The Draft-night anxiety, the feeling of being a first-round Draft choice, all
the extra attention and phone calls.
ready to play professional baseball, something he could have been doing since last year.
drafted ninth in the first round by the Washington Nationals in 2008. But negotiations can be tough, and Crow's contract talks
with the Nationals kept dragging on and on. In the end, both groups could never agree on a number, and Crow turned down a
multi-million dollar signing bonus.
Crow, all that's in the past.
22 years old and he has an opportunity to play for his favorite organization. Some people never thought Crow would be a first-round
pick. Some think he made a mistake by passing up guaranteed money last year. Crow is ready to prove all of those people wrong.
looking forward to putting what happened last year behind me and moving on to this year," Crow said.
can tell you exactly why the Royals drafted Crow. Picollo, the Royals' assistant general manager/scouting and player development,
was in charge of the Royals' draft for the first time this year.
needed an advanced arm, he says. And he's seen Crow dominate.
got three well-above-average pitches," Picollo said.
a quality slider, an improving changeup and a fastball that tops out in the mid-90s.
people didn't always gush about Crow like this.
remembers those days.
worked for the Kansas City Sluggers, a local baseball club run by former University of Kansas coach Dave Bingham, who's now
an assistant at Nebraska.
14 when Duncan first saw him. He was young and raw, and his fastball barely reached the mid-80s.
sat down with Bingham and Duncan and worked out a plan.
would show up to lessons three times a week. Sometimes after lessons, he'd stick around even longer, soaking up as much pitching
knowledge as possible.
a little, worked himself into a little better shape, and his fastball jumped six miles per hour in six months. And by the
end of his junior of year of high school at Washburn Rural in Topeka, Crow was throwing 88 to 89 mph.
his junior year, you could tell he was going to be special," Duncan said.
some college coaches weren't convinced. And neither were pro scouts.
it was because he was from Topeka, not exactly a baseball hotbed. Maybe they just missed.
thinks it might have been that Crow's pitching mechanics were too good.
of teams didn't want to invest in a guy whose mechanics are sound," Duncan said. "They'll see a guy who throws 90 with bad
mechanics and think they can change him and he'll throw harder. But if a guy has great mechanics, they think he won't be able
to throw any harder."
earned All-State honors at Washburn Rural. He went 4-2 with a 1.71 ERA with 53 strikeouts as a senior. And playing for the
Sluggers, he turned some heads in the summer, too.
pro scouts weren't interested, and Crow wasn't drafted out of high school.
still weren't interested, either, except for one.
wanted him, and they showed they wanted him," Duncan said.
took the mound at Missouri, the scouts finally noticed. He showed promise as a freshman, pitched well as a sophomore, then
exploded as a junior, when he went 13-0 in 15 starts and struck out 127 batters in 107 innings.
was dialed up and the scouts were dialed in. Crow was a commodity, one of the hottest college pitchers going into the 2008
the Draft and the negotiations and the aftermath. Left without a Major League organization to play for, Crow signed with the
independent league Fort Worth Cats. He'd have to wait another year to hear his name on Draft day.
another Royals first-round pick, understands the challenges that await Crow. He lived them in 2006.
a standout career at Tennessee, Hochevar was drafted by the Dodgers in 2005. But Hochevar didn't sign. He turned down millions
and went back into the Draft. He spent the next year working out and polishing his command. He pitched for the Fort Worth
good for the point you can really get in the weight room and you can really bear down on your workouts and get a lot stronger,"
said Hochevar, who tossed his first career complete game against the Reds on Friday, allowing just one run while using just
80 pitches. "But also, it gives you a lot of time to work on some stuff, to fine tune some pitches and really gain some arm
are negatives, Hochevar says.
free time to work out doesn't make up for the missed time on the mound. And you can't simulate what it feels like to hold
the ball with nine professional hitters on the other side of the diamond.
entire year, you need to get your starts," Hochevar said. "Sometimes it takes a little bit of time to get back in a routine.
It took me a little while to adjust."
has heard about Crow. He's heard about the sinking fastball and the slider and the changeup.
that kid's stuff, he should be fine," Hochevar said.
and Royals general manager Dayton Moore aren't too worried either. They think they got an advanced pitcher who can start at
an "advanced level."
means isn't exactly clear. It could mean Class A-Advanced Wilmington, or it could mean Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
the Royals need to get Crow signed, and that could take a while. Picollo is optimistic about Crow and the Royals' other top
you look at the past history," he said, "there have been deals that have gone right down to the final minutes. If that's what
it is, and we get the player signed, we'll deal with it and we'll be happy."
the extra attention kept coming after Tuesday's Draft. His friends were pumped, more reporters kept calling, he made an appearance
on MLB Network. Everybody wanted to know: How did it feel to be drafted by your favorite team?
excited," Crow said.
last year over, Crow has learned a few things from the whole experience.
focused on getting things done," he said, "and making it work."
Dodd is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval
of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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