Bobcat gets the Royal treatment
Written by: Joel Priest
It’s only fitting an American League team would find him.
After sporting Ignacio’s red-and-white for four years, Derek Rodriguez will now have a chance to wear Royals’ blue some day, after being taken by Kansas City on Day Two of the 2007 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, held June 7-8.
“But I didn’t know until the day after,” Rodriguez said. “I was up at the All-State Basketball Games [in Greeley] and I was sitting in a hot tub just relaxing. But then I was like ‘Where’s my phone?’ and found out it was in my pocket—in the hot tub.”
The IHS graduate was picked in the 37th round, 1,109th overall.
“I was shocked,” he continued. “My mom let me know, and I just couldn’t believe it.”
“Obviously his speed stands out,” said Senior Director of Scouting Deric Ladnier via phone Tuesday, “and we liked the way he goes about playing the game in general. There’s still some things in his game he’ll need to work on, but we especially loved his speed.”
The smallest player (5’9”, 155 pounds on draft sheets) taken by the Royals, Rodriguez was one of five centerfielders and seven total outfielders selected by the franchise, who drafted in all fifty rounds. Not much bigger at only 6’0”, 172, Pepperdine University burner (6.2 seconds in the 60-yard dash) fifth-rounder Adrian Ortiz was the first CF tabbed by the team, who had him rated as the fastest player available.
“We had a part-time scout in New Mexico, Bob Dunning, who had seen Derek, and he filed a report saying there was a kid who can really play. So we passed that information along to Ken Munoz, our Four Corners-area supervisor, who then took a look at him and said he’s worthy of a late-round pick, and that’s what we did,” said Ladnier.
Through similar channels, Farmington (N.M.) Scorpion pitcher Brandon VanRiper—Rodriguez’s Connie Mack teammate on the Farmington Storm—was K.C.’s final choice, though both have committed to play at Lamar Community College next year.
“The last thing we want to do is rush a young player along into the system,” Ladnier said. “Under the rules, Derek and Brandon can go back into the draft for next year if we don’t sign them by the August 15 deadline.”
Ortiz is an example, having also been taken previously in the fifth round of the 2004 Draft (Chicago Cubs).
Originally projected to go somewhere in the first 15 rounds, VanRiper—selected as a catcher officially—might look to improve his status in a future draft with some seasoning at LCC, while Rodriguez—still more a prospect at this point—can’t lose with either option.
“So we want to watch him more this summer, see how he develops, and then make a decision,” Ladnier continued.
“But I feel it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved. We were able to draft him but, on a personal note, if we don’t sign them right away then I’m proud they still have that chance to start a college education.”
“Yeah, I haven’t decided completely yet either,” said Rodriguez. “I’m still shocked.”
Decisions, decisions, decisions…
And there isn’t a ball-playing youngster around who wouldn’t want to be in Derek Rodriguez’s cleats right now just to have the chance to make such a choice.
“This is a dream come true,” he said.
POSSIBLE PREVIEW? Rodriguez and the Storm were ousted by Merced, Calif., in the semifinals of last weekend’s 28th Annual Tony Andenucio Memorial Baseball Tournament in Pueblo. Now 12-2 this summer (8-0 in Connie Mack play) the Storm will compete in an elite tournament in Omaha, Neb., this weekend, coinciding with the 2007 College World Series held at Rosenblatt Stadium—home to Kansas City’s Triple-A minor league affiliate, dubbed the Royals.
Should he sign with K.C., a more likely first destination for Rodriguez would be either the rookie-level Idaho Falls (Idaho; Pioneer League) Chukars or the AZL Royals (Phoenix; Arizona League). K.C.’s Class A teams are the Wilmington (Delaware; Carolina League) Blue Rocks, Burlington (Iowa; Midwest League) Bees, and Burlington (North Carolina; Appalachian League) Royals, while the Wichita (Kansas; Texas League) Wranglers are the lone AA squad.