Kansas City, Mo For the sixth time in four years, the Kansas City Royals have spent a first-round draft pick on a pitcher.
Now they'll cross their fingers and hope Colt Griffin, an 18-year-old fireballing Texas high school standout, will change their luck.
The Royals, who had an extra first-round pick in 1998 and 1999, have had only one major leaguer right-hander Dan Reichert help them so far at the major league level since they drafted outfielder Dee Brown with their first choice in 1996.
"We feel he (Griffin) has potential, can be an outstanding starter," Royals director of scouting Deric Ladnier said. "We've clocked his fastball as high as 98 mph. He has a chance to have a good changeup."
Griffin, 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, was a first baseman until he converted to the mound this year for Marshall High School. He was 8-2 with a dazzling fastball. The Royals made him the ninth choice overall.
He doesn't think it will take him long to reach the major leagues.
"I've been thinking about it," he said."I can see myself in two years, really. It's in my hands. If I put forth the work, I know I can do it."
He said he had 110 strikeouts in 63 innings, with only 22 walks. His fastball is his main pitch.
"It's got a lot of natural movement," he said. "It's not straight at all. Up and in."
With their pick in the second round the Royals took Roscoe Crosby, 6-4, 200, an outfielder from Union High School in South Carolina. Third baseman Matthew Ferrara of Westminster Academy in Florida was taken in the third round. In the fourth, the Royals took catcher John Draper of Cal-State University.
In the fifth round, their choice was Chamar McDonald, a 6-4 first baseman from Madison Central High School in Mississsippi. William Frost, a right-hander from Jordan High in Georgia was taken in round six.
Griffin said his agent is Brian Peters and he had no idea how much it would take to sign him. First-rounders as early as No. 9 generally get around $2 million.
"We really haven't talked to (his agent) about it," Griffin said. "We ain't really set a figure, so I don't know."
Named after the Lee Majors character in the TV show "The Fall Guy," Griffin became an instant standout when he first started pitching. With a fastball rumored to be clocked at 100 miles per hour, he had about 50 scouts show up for the third game he ever pitched.
"It was pretty crazy," he said. "The first two games I was throwing 92 or 93 and there was only a few people there. Then it got real crazy. But I mean I'm not going to argue with it."
He said he knew the Royals were interested when Hall-of-Famer George Brett showed up at one of his games.
Ladnier dismissed talk about Griffin's 100 mph fastball as "just rumor," but Griffin doesn't.
"I can," he said. "I knew I did it when I did it. I know I got it in me."
Earlier Tuesday, the Royals traded right-hander Jose Santiago to Philadelphia for right-hander Paul Byrd. Byrd 29, was 0-1 with an 8.10 ERA for the Phillies. He is 29-29 with a 4.70 ERA at the major league level in eight different seasons with the New York Mets, Atlanta and Philadelphia.
Santiago was 2-2 with a 6.75 ERA in 20 games with the Royals this year.