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Royals sign their second overall draft pick

ST. LOUIS _ Left-hander Mike Montgomery, the 36th overall pick in the recent draft, is heading for the Arizona Rookie League after agreeing to terms with the Royals on a $988,000 signing bonus.

Montgomery, 6 feet 5 and 190 pounds, zoomed up draft boards after a standout spring at Hart High School, located in the San Bernardino Valley approximately 200 miles east of Los Angeles.

“I don’t want to say he’s lanky,” scouting director Deric Ladnier said, “because he’s athletic. His fastball velocity is up to 94 (mph) maybe 95. He has a very good changeup that he can command.

“His breaking ball at times is a plus, and at times it’s below (average). That’s a pitch he’s going to have to develop.”

The Royals also signed 10th-round pick Maurico Matos, a high school catcher from New York City. The club now has eight of its first 11 picks under contract.

Ladnier reported no progress in negotiations with first baseman Eric Hosmer, the third overall pick in the draft. Teams must sign drafted players by Aug. 15 or lose negotiating rights.

Teams receive compensation in next year’s draft if they failed to sign a player selected in the first two rounds.

The Royals chose Montgomery, 18, with a supplemental pick between the first and second rounds as compensation for losing reliever David Riske in free agency.

“We’re very pleased he was there with our sandwich pick,” Ladnier said. “He’s a real athletic kid. Super competitive.”

That competitiveness has, at times, gotten Montgomery into trouble. He was kicked off his high school basketball team, despite being its leading scorer, for accumulating too many technical fouls.

“I’ve never seen him play basketball,” Ladnier said. “I don’t know. Maybe he gets angry playing basketball. I don’t think this organization believes he has a behavioral problem. You always want someone who is competitive. If they’re not, you don’t want to take them at all.

“He’s never shown any signs of not being able to control his aggressiveness on the mound. You see a guy who wants to win. You see a guy who wants to compete, and a guy who wants to pitch. At no time did I see him throw at somebody or do something that is inappropriate on a baseball field by any means whatsoever.”

Montgomery will join the Surprise Royals, whose season begins Sunday.

“I think having Mark Davis out there as the pitching coach is a bonus,” Ladnier said. “That’s a good place for him to start. Almost all of our high school pitchers start there until they prove they’re better than that league.”

To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, call (816) 234-4352 or send email to bdutton@kcstar.com.

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