08/13/08 8:10 PM ET
Royals' top pick remains unsigned
Deal could be made at wire with deadline quickly approaching
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
With the signing deadline of 11 p.m. CT Friday approaching, the Royals' negotiations with first baseman Eric Hosmer have yet to reach a conclusion.
Hosmer, from American Heritage High School in Plantation, Fla., was made the No. 3 overall selection in the First-Year Player Draft on June 5. He is touted as a left-handed hitter with raw power.
"We've been there before and I anticipate that it'll go down to the deadline," Deric Ladnier, the Royals' senior director of scouting said Wednesday afternoon.
But, in keeping with the organization's policy, he did not get into specifics.
The office of Scott Boras, the super agent who advises Hosmer, did not return calls to MLB.com. Hosmer's father, Mike, said the family would not discuss the negotiations.
A year ago, the Royals reached an agreement with shortstop Mike Moustakas just 10 minutes before the deadline. Also a Boras client, Moustakas signed for $4 million.
Now, the stage is set for another to-the-wire finish.
The Royals also are trying to sign right-hander Timothy Melville of Wentzville, Mo., their fourth-round selection. He's their only other unsigned pick among the top 10.
Hosmer, as a senior at American Heritage High this year, batted .470 with 11 home runs, 27 RBIs, 49 runs and 14 stolen bases. Hosmer played this summer for the Midland Redskins, a team based in Cincinnati that finished second in the Connie Mack World Series.
"He had a great summer. We knew he wanted to play there this summer with the Midland team, so we kind of respected his wishes. We've seen him play all summer. Multiple scouts see him at different times and he's played well," Royals general manager Dayton Moore said.
"He's an impact bat. He potentially could play a Gold Glove defense at first base and potentially could be a middle-of-the-order production bat."
Just how much it will take to get Hosmer to sign isn't known, of course. It might hinge on what kind of a deal, if any, that Boras is able to swing for third baseman Pedro Alvarez with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Alvarez was the No. 2 pick, just ahead of Hosmer.
"We did a lot of work prior to the Draft with the player and his family and also his advisor," Moore said last week. "We have a pretty good understanding of what his expectations are and I don't where the market is going to go here in the last week, but we're preparing to make a strong run at signing Eric. We feel like he's a great person and a great talent and we expect to get him in a Royal uniform but we'll see."
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Hosmer is the type of power hitter the Royals want to develop in their system, which is currently short of long-ball hitters.
Now, the race is on to beat the clock.
"We feel confident we'll be able to sign him," Ladnier said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.