With a roster that included first baseman Eric Hosmer (the third pick in the 2008 draft), catcher Kyle Skipworth (the sixth pick), righthander Gerrit Cole (the 28th selection) and top prospects from all parts of the country, the Braves Scout Team—a team assembled and coached by Atlanta Braves scouts—stormed to the 2007 WWBA fall championship.
Apparently other big league teams took notice. As many as eight teams that are entered in this year’s tournament have a connection, of sorts, to a major league club—whether it’s in the uniforms they’re wearing, or the scouts they’re providing to assemble and coach the teams.
No team has taken the lead from the Braves more than the Kansas City Royals, who have two teams entered in the tournament—the Royals Scout Team, a team assembled with prospects from 14 different states (and Canada), and the Royals Baseball Club, a team represented by players from 18 different states. While the Royals Scout Team has mainly players from the 2009 draft class of its roster, the younger Royals Baseball Club has only players from the 2010 and 2011 classes.
It’s little coincidence that the Royals have patterned an entry in the tournament after the Braves as Royals GM Dayton Moore, scouting director J.J. Picollo and director of baseball operations Lonnie Goldberg all came to Kansas City from the Braves. In the much bigger picture, the Royals have incorporated much of the Braves approach and philosophy towards player development into their organization, from the major league club on down.
The Braves first assembled a team for the Jupiter tournament two years ago, using their scouts to identify the team, and then to coach the assembled players. Picollo and Goldberg were with the Braves at the time, and saw the obvious benefits that organizing a team of top prospects in a high-profile environment can have.
“It gives you a great chance to really get to know the kids,” Goldberg said. “That’s the biggest benefit that we get from it.”
In addition to Picollo and Goldberg, the Royals have 18 scouts in Jupiter, four of whom are coaching the two Royals team. Every Royals scouts, both full-time and part-time, had a hand in identifying players and coordinating their travel to and from Jupiter. The Royals even brought in their own equipment manager to pass out uniforms.
With about 50 top prospects at their disposal, the Royals will use the opportunity to sell the players on the virtues of being a future potential Kansas City Royals player by bringing in four top players from their farm system, including Mike Moustakas (the No. 2 overall selection in the 2007 draft) and Hosmer, their top pick this year, to speak to the assembled players.
So far, everything is running smoothly for the Royals as both teams are 1-0.
The younger Royals Baseball club beat the Richmond Braves 5-2 in an 8 a.m. game as junior outfielder Mason Williams (Winter Garden, Fla.) and sophomore catcher Brandon Sedell (Cooper City, Fla.) sparked an 11-hit attack with three hits apiece.
The older Royals Scout Team opened with a 7-1 win over PG Columbia Blue in a 10:20 a.m. game as five pitchers, all of whom touched 90 mph or better, combined on a no-hitter with 13 strikeouts. Righthander Madison Younginer (Simpsonville, S.C.), the top-ranked 2009 prospect in South Carolina, worked the first three innings, striking out seven. His exploding fastball topped out at 93.
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