Back for a 3rd time to reviewing the 2007 draft class of the Kansas City Royals. Read on as we focus on the picks made from rounds 16-25.
OF-Patrick Norris (16th Round/486th Overall) Oklahoma City University (Oklahoma)
Low-A – Burlington Bees
Norris started out his professional career in rookie ball with the Burlington Royals. In 228 AB he hit .294/.397/.338 with 39 BB, 59 SO, and 30 SB. Late in the 2007 season he got bumped up to Idaho Falls and hit .091 in 11 at bats. Norris spent the entire 2008 season as a member of the Chukars and hit .263/.366/.340 in 259 AB with 44 BB, 67 SO, and 33 SB. He joined the Burlington Bees to start this season and is currently hitting .242/.319/.247 in 190 AB with 19 BB, 47 SO, and 25 SB.
Norris has 88 stolen bases in less than 3 seasons in professional baseball so he brings speed to the table, but has only 1 home run to his credit since being drafted. After starting off slow this year by hitting .220 in April and .222 in May, Norris has picked it up and is hitting .296 for the month of June. He is steadily climbing the ladder but hasn’t put up stunning numbers at any level thus far.
LHP-Ivor Hodgson (17/516) Mount St. Mary’s College (Maryland)
Rookie – Idaho Falls Chukars
Ivor Hodgson opened his KC career with the Arizona League Royals in 2007. There he pitched 32.1 innings of relief with a 5.29 ERA, 45 H, 15 BB, and 36 SO in 14 appearances. In 2008 he stepped up to Idaho Falls and was converted to a starter. He seemed to take to his new role pitching 71.2 innings with a 3.14 ERA, 62 H, 33 BB, and 67 SO in his 15 starts. Hodgson started 2009 out with the Burlington Bees but pitched just 1.0 inning of relief with a 9.00 ERA before being sent back to Idaho Falls. So far with the Chukars he has made 1 start and thrown 4.0 innings with a 4.50 ERA, 3 H, 2 BB, and 0 SO.
RHP-Stephen Dodson (18/546) Georgia College & State University (Georgia)
Dodson did not sign with the Royals. He was selected by Colorado Rockies in the 10th round of the 2008 draft and is currently pitching in low-A for the Asheville Tourists.
C-Joseph Billick (19/576) Southern Poly State University (Georgia)
Billick started out with Idaho Falls in 2007 and hit .186/.319/.237 with 14 BB and 27 SO in 97 at bats. In 2008 he failed to get a hit in 7 at bats for Idaho Falls before being moved up to the Burlington Bees. There he hit .240/.387/.340 with 9 BB and 12 SO in 50 at bats. Billick was released in early June.
RHP-Michael Lehmann (20/606) Pearl River Central HS (Mississippi)
Low-A – Burlington Bees
Lehmann began his professional career with the Arizona League Royals and pitched 44.1 innings with a 2.64 ERA, 36 H, 23 BB, and 40 SO in 13 relief appearances and 1 start. He was bumped up to the Burlington Royals for the 2008 season and split time between the rotation and the bullpen. In 57.2 innings pitched he had a 3.43 ERA, 57 H, 16 BB and 42 SO over 9 starts and 4 relief appearances. Lehmann was again bumped up for the 2009 season and is currently pitching for the Burlington Bees. So far he has a 4.72 ERA, 35 H, 15 BB, and 19 SO in 34.1 innings pitched. He has made 6 starts and 2 relief appearances.
RHP-Josh Billeaud (21/636) Louisiana State-Eunice JC (Louisiana)
Billeaud did not sign with the Royals and was selected by the Chicago White Sox in the 18th round of the 2008 draft. He is currently pitching in rookie ball for the Great Falls Voyagers.
RHP-Jacob Rodriguez (22/666) East Los Angeles JC (California)
In early January of 2008, MLB suspended Rodriguez for 50 games for failing to take a scheduled drug test. Once he served his suspension, Rodriguez started his professional career in 2008 with the Burlington Royals. He pitched 33.1 innings with a 3.51 ERA, 13 H, 12 BB and 48 SO during 13 relief appearances. He got a late season promotion to the low-A Burlington Bees where he pitched 7.0 innings with a 5.14 ERA, 4 H, 2 BB and 7 SO over 1 start and 1 relief appearance. Rodriguez was reassigned to the minors from the Idaho Falls Chukars on 6/17/09 and has not played yet this season.
LHP-Geoff Brown (23/696) Jackson HS (Mill Creek, Washington)
Brown did not sign with the Royals. He opted to attend the University of Washington, and made 31 relief appearances for the Huskies this season. In 32.1 innings pitched, he had a 5.01 ERA, 1.70 WHIP, and 31 SO.
RHP-Ben Norton (24/726) University of Evansville (Indiana)
Norton pitched for the Idaho Falls Chukars in 2007. He threw 57.0 innings with a 3.95 ERA, 65 H, 22 BB and 56 SO in 14 starts and 2 relief appearances. The Royals released Norton in late March of 2008.
1B-Clint Robinson (25/756) Troy University (Alabama)
High-A – Wilmington Blue Rocks
Robinson started off his Royals career in a big way with the Idaho Falls Chukars in 2007. He hit .336/.388/.593 with 19 BB, 42 SO and 15 HR in 253 at bats. He got promoted to low-A Burlington for the 2008 season and hit .264/.333/.472 with 37 BB, 67 SO, and 17 HR in 379 AB. He was again bumped up the ladder to start the 2009 season with the Wilmington Blue Rocks. In 226 at bats this season he is hitting .288/.347/.456 with 17 BB, 44 SO, and 7 HR.
Robinson has put up very solid numbers with excellent power in his brief career in the Royals organization. As an added bonus, he was born in Jefferson City, MO so if he ever does reach the majors, fans will have another local product to root for.
There is very little to get excited about from this group of picks. Three of them (Dodson, Billeaud, and Brown) didn’t sign, two of them (Norton and Billick) have already been released, and the remaining five haven’t done anything to get fans overly excited. Patrick Norris brings speed to the equation and Clint Robinson brings power, but it seems unlikely either will reach the majors unless they take some big steps forward. Lehmann had a nice start to his career, but his numbers are going in the wrong direction and it would appear he is reaching the ceiling in A ball. Ivor Hodgson and Jacob Rodriguez have had some mixed results. Of the 5 picks still in the organization, the best hope for a ML player, in my opinion, is Clint Robinson. Unfortunately he plays the wrong position to break through with the Royals. That said, guys with big time power can carve out nice triple-A careers with the occasional shot to make a roster out of spring training or as a late season call up.
Topics: 2007 Draft, AL Central, Baseball, Ben Norton, Clint Robinson, Geoff Brown, Ivor Hodgson, Jacob Rodriguez, Joseph Billick, Josh Billeaud, Kansas City Royals, KC, Michael Lehmann, MLB, Patrick Norris, Stephen Dodson