ST. LOUIS | The first pitcher selected by the Royals in recent draft is under contract and heading to the Arizona Rookie League.
Left-hander Mike Montgomery, the 36th overall pick, reached agreement Tuesday 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 near 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.”
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Montgomery chose the Royals over a scholarship to California State-Fullerton.
The Royals also signed 10th-round pick Maurico Matos, a high school catcher from New York City. The club has now signed eight of 11 picks from the first 10 rounds and 28 of its 51 total picks.
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.”
Bill Bavasi, who was fired Monday as Seattle's general manager, cited the decision last winter not to retain outfielder José Guillen as the biggest factor this season in the Mariners’ poor play.
“It’s really ironic,” Bavasi said in a news conference following his dismissal, “that the person we’re missing the most is José Guillen. That is the piece that was here last year is not here this year.
“He could do some strange things, and he did, but at the top of his agenda was to win, and if anybody got in the way of playing the game right, he had no patience with that. That was his boiling point.”
The Mariners opted not to exercise a $9 million option to retain Guillen for this season. That allowed him to become a free agent. He signed with the Royals for three years at $36 million.
The Cardinals have scratched ex-Royals right-hander Todd Wellemeyer as their starter for Thursday’s series finale because of elbow stiffness. Anthony Reyes will start in place of Wellemeyer against Zack Greinke at 1:15 p.m.
Reyes is 2-1 with a 4.91 ERA in 10 relief appearances.
How long can the Royals keep Billy Butler at Class AAA Omaha?
Butler boosted his average to .403 on Monday night by going two for three with two walks in a 9-8 loss at Albuquerque. Butler has a 1.122 OPS in 18 games since being optioned to the minors.
“He continuing to swing the bat well,” manager Trey Hillman said. “That’s good for us. At some point, we’ll look to get him back up here. When that’s going to happen, I can’t tell you. Reports are good.”