Royals take chance on former Red Sox prospect

KC believes Denney, a 3rd-round pick in 2013, has learned from troubled past

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Royals, who have become known in recent years for restoring players' careers, are attempting to do so again, having recently signed catcher Jon Denney, a former third-round pick of the Red Sox who comes with a troubled past.

Denney, 21, was signed to a Minor League deal on Friday and arrived in Minor League camp on Saturday.

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Denney, from Yukon, Okla., played one season of rookie ball for the Red Sox in 2013 (.203, two homers, 18 RBIs in 26 games) but did not play in '14 or '15 after being put on the restricted list following a series of run-ins with the law.

Denney was arrested in 2014 for driving with a suspended license. His license had been suspended because of a previous DUI arrest. According to a police report obtained by Yahoo Sports in 2014, Denney also was arrested in 2013 for disorderly conduct, a minor in possession of alcohol, and littering when he allegedly threw a liquor bottle into oncoming traffic.

But the Royals vetted Denney before he was drafted, and again in recent weeks, and believe he has turned a corner with his life.

"We vet all our players pretty hard, in terms of where they're at in their career and in their life," Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo told MLB.com. "In his case, was he ready to jump back in and get in the grind of day-to-day baseball? We believe he is."

The Royals nearly drafted Denney in 2013.

Denney's MLB.com scouting report at the time read: "Denney has the complete package for the position, with advanced receiving skills and a plus arm. He has some power in his bat as well."

"We really valued him," Picollo said. "We thought we had him Day 2, but the Red Sox got him ahead of us."

After Denney missed the last two seasons, the Red Sox took him off their restricted list, thus making him available for anyone to sign -- a rare move for teams in regard to their higher Draft picks. The Royals certainly were grateful and now believe they can resurrect Denney's career.

"He's in a great frame of mind right now," Picollo said. "He's grown up quite a bit. He's gone through some tough times, for sure."

The Royals will bring Denney along slowly. When camp breaks, Denney will stay in Arizona for extended spring training. Then sometime in June, Denney likely will be assigned to a Minor League affiliate.

"We brought him in because we believe in our culture and what we do," Picollo said. "We feel this is the perfect place for him."

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.