In honor of Michael Jackson’s life and recent passing, I thought it would be appropriate to pay his music its due respect, Kansas City Royals style. Michael Jackson was a legend, an icon, a musical genius, and a creative inspiration. I grew up listening to the music of MJ, and while I may not admire the man he became, I sure do love his music.
Let’s take a walk down memory lane and reminisce about some of the Kansas City Royals 1st round and supplemental round draft picks of the recent past. To give it a little extra flavor they are paired with the titles of Michael Jackson’s 13 number one Billboard R&B hits.
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough (1979)
No year in the illustrious history of Royals drafts fits this MJ hit like 1999 when the Royals selected 4 of 43 players. You would think that the Royals would have found one impact player among those four selections. Instead the Royals selected two complete busts and two fringe ML players. With the 7th overall pick they selected RHP-Kyle Snyder out of the University of North Carolina. The oft-injured Snyder rewarded the Royals with an 8-17 ML record, 5.57 ERA, and 1.55 WHIP. Sadly KC should have known better, since Snyder was injured while still in college. With the 25th overall pick they went back to the college pitching ranks plucking RHP-Mike MacDougal out of Wake Forest University. He has compiled a 13-20 record, 4.04 ERA, 1.509 WHIP, and 52 saves. At age 32 he is still in the major leagues pitching out of the Washington Nationals bullpen. The Royals weren’t done there, making two picks in the supplemental round. They selected Pepperdine University RHP-Jay Gehrke 32nd overall and got absolutely nothing from him. In fact he pitched only 3 seasons in the minor leagues reaching high-A before he was out of baseball. With their final early selection they broke rank and took HS LHP-Jimmy Gobble out of John S Battle HS in Bristol, Virginia. Gobble did his part to reward the Royals, but was never allowed to settle into a defined role. He was tried as a starter, spot starter, reliever, and left-handed specialist. His best year in his ML career came in 2007 when he had a 3.02 ERA and 1.472 WHIP in 53.2 innings pitched. Gobble is currently pitching for the Chicago White Sox and has a 22-23 record, 5.30 ERA, and 1.493 WHIP in 7 ML seasons.
Rock with You (1980)
I’ll take 2005 2nd overall pick 3B-Alex Gordon as my choice to “rock with.” Gordon has been severely underappreciated in his brief Royals career. Much of that has to do with the insane expectations that were placed upon him. I love Alex Gordon and love the future that he still has ahead of him. Click here for a post I did in the offseason on Gordon.
The Girl Is Mine (1983)
1996 14th overall selection OF-Dermal “Dee” Brown gets the nod here, simply because Dee is also a girl’s name. Mr. Brown hit .233/.280/.333 in 814 ML at bats. After 14 minor league seasons, Dermal is still playing. This season he is in the Dodgers organization playing for Albuquerque and is hitting .311/.375/.596.
Billie Jean (1983)
Billie Jean, meet Billy Ray. The Royals selected Billy Ray Butler 14th overall in the 2004 draft out of Wolfson Senior HS in Florida. Butler has not disappointed with the bat, but his development at 1B was delayed by the Royals misguided attempts to play him at 3B and LF. Billy has managed to hit .282/.335/.426 in 285 games with the Royals. Just 23 years old, the future is very bright for Butler at the plate. He hasn’t been too shabby at 1B either.
Beat It (1983)
Beat it was the sentiment of many Royals fans when the 35th selection in the 1992 draft was traded to Oakland after the 2000 season. At age 26 Damon was in his 6th major league season and was clearly one of the best leadoff hitters in the game. Johnny Damon was a fan favorite in Kansas City before it became clear they couldn’t re-sign him and fans quickly turned on him. Now in his 15th major league season Damon has hit .289/.355/.438 with 197 HR, 396 SB, and 1431 R in 2056 games played. Despite being hated, Royals fans need to recognize how great he was as a Royal and as a ML ballplayer. Born in Fort Riley, KS he is also a local kid who “made it” which should be a source of community pride, but for most Royals fans it never will be. Incidentally, the Damon trade brought SS-Angel Berroa who was also told to “beat it” by Royals fans several years later.
I Just Can’t Stop Loving You (1987)
Donald Zackary Greinke it’s true, I just can’t stop loving you. Despite all the turmoil he has been through, there is no doubt that Greinke is the Royals best draft pick since the Royals selected Johnny Damon in the supplemental round of the 1992 draft. Zack was selected 6th overall in the 2002 draft out of Apopka HS in Apopka, Florida. In 767.2 major league innings pitched, Greinke has a 3.94 ERA, 1.292 WHIP, 3.22 K/BB and a respectable 43-48 record despite playing on many god awful teams in his 6 major league seasons. He is in the midst of a season for the Royals record books with a 1.90 ERA, 5 CG, 2 SHO, 1.018 WHIP, and 6.17 K/BB.
This one is too easy. In 2001 the Royals selected RHP-Colt Griffin 9th overall out of Marshall HS in Marshall, Texas. When drafted, Griffin could throw over 100 mph, but had no control. Unfortunately the Royals were unable to teach him that critical skill. You cannot throw it through the wall of the barn if you can’t hit the barn to begin with. Griffin was given 5 seasons in the minors to figure it out, but he never could. In 373.2 minor league innings pitched, he struck out 271 but walked 278. A bad pick with bad results made Colt Griffin just plain bad.
The Way You Make Me Feel (1987)
This one goes out to all the Royals 1st or supplemental round draft picks that never made the major leagues in the last 15 years that aren’t mentioned elsewhere in this post. LHP-Matthew Campbell (2004), OF-Chris Lubanski (2003), LHP-Mike Stodolka (2000), RHP-Matt Burch (1998) and LHP-Matt Smith (1994), depressed is how you guys make me feel. RHP-Aaron Crow (2009) and LHP-Mike Montgomery (2008) get a pass for a few years.
Man in the Mirror (1988)
David and Dan Glass, please take a look at the man you see in the mirror. Remember what Ewing Kauffman did for the team and the city and step it up. It is time to do whatever it takes to bring Kansas City a winner!
Another Part of Me (1988)
2003 30th overall selection, out of the University of Toledo, OF-Mitch Maier is another part of me. Like myself, Mitch was drafted as a catcher and later converted to play CF. The main difference, I was drafted in Babe Ruth Baseball as a teenager, Mitch was drafted by a major league franchise. We are both white, relatively fast, hit left-handed, and play solid defense. He’s 6’2, 210 and I’m 6’1, 190. Close enough. In 204 ML at bats Mitch has hit .255/.318/.324.
Remember the Time (1991)
Do you remember the time, before the selection of Greinke that the Royals drafted an Impact pitcher? If you don’t remember, no one can blame you because you have to go back to 1987. It was 22 years ago that the Royals selected RHP-Kevin Appier 9th overall in the first round out of Antelope Valley College in California. Appier compiled a 169-137 record with a 3.74 ERA, 1.294 WHIP, 2.14 K/BB, and 34 CG in 16 ML seasons.
In the Closet (1991)
Keep it in the closet indeed. Enter the 19th overall pick in the 1995 draft, Juan Lebron. Drafted out of HS in Arroyo, Puerto Rico, Lebron failed to keep his attitude in the closet and quickly wore out his welcome in the Royals organization. He was eventually traded to the Mets before bouncing around between the Mariners, Cardinals, and various independent leagues. Lebron never reached the majors and finished with a .259/.316/.428 line in 3541 minor league at bats. His numbers were not impressive and neither was his attitude.
You Are Not Alone (1995)
At least we hope Alex Gordon and Billy Butler won’t be alone. 2007 2nd overall pick Mike Moustakas and 2008 3rd overall pick Eric Hosmer were both drafted out of high school. Both of them have at least another full minor league season ahead of them, but they have the type of bats that could soon give the Royals some major thump in between Butler and Gordon in the 2011 lineup.
RIP Michael, you will be missed!
This week’s edition of Central Processing will appear tomorrow instead of today.