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Royals' focus armed, ready

Royals' focus armed, ready

KANSAS CITY -- Pitching wins championships, so goes one of baseball's oldest adages.

And while the wait-and-see event that is the First-Year Player Draft won't soon determine whether the pitchers the Royals selected will one day help them reverse course, the club certainly improved the odds of that happening.

For another wise proverb states that there is strength in numbers.

Six of Kansas City's first nine selections on the second day of the draft were hurlers. Overall, 23 of the Royals' 50 draftees were pitchers, most notably No. 1 overall selection Luke Hochevar.

The Royals on Wednesday also added six outfielders, five catchers, two shortstops, and one third, second and first baseman each.

In all, they selected 20 players (40 percent) from high school and 30 (60 percent) from colleges or junior colleges. Those figures are about on par with last year's overall Major League totals. Of the 1,501 players selected in 2005, 529, or roughly 35 percent, were high schoolers. Another 959, (64 percent) were collegians. The other one percent had no school affiliation.

The Royals were aware of their previous commitments to colleges but plan to chart their progress over the summer season. If a player performs well, the Royals may try to sign him to a contract before he enrolls in a four-year school, or prior to the 2007 Draft if the player chooses to attend a junior college instead.

Their first such player from Day 2 was 19th-round selection Jeffrey Inman, a right-handed pitcher from Garces Memorial High School in Bakersfield, Calif. Listed as the 124th-best prospect by Baseball America, Inman is slated to attend Stanford University in the fall. Scouts say that he has good command of his three main pitches -- fastball, changeup and curve.

But the high-profile status of Stanford's program may make it difficult for the Royals to sign Inman.

Jared Grace, the team's 34th-round pick, is another example. Grace's numbers for Pensacola (Fla.) Junior College were far from stellar in 2006: He batted .236 with six home runs and 17 RBIs. However, he is transferring to Florida A&M University. Because of his size -- 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds -- the Royals could wait one season for him to progress, then have a better idea of what kind of player he is based on his 2007 performance.

On Tuesday, Royals senior director of scouting Deric Ladnier said that he didn't imagine that talks with Hochevar would take nearly that long. He said that negotiations with the right-hander's agent, Scott Boras, will begin Wednesday night.

Kevin Druley 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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