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Royals notebook: Other top draft picks already experiencing success

NEW YORK | All attention Friday on the 2008 draft class naturally focused on the Royals’ down-to-the-wire — and successful — negotiations with first baseman Eric Hosmer and pitcher Tim Melville.

Curious about the three players taken between those two prize prospects?

•Left-hander Mike Montgomery, a supplemental pick between the first two rounds, is 2-1 with a 1.76 ERA in nine games at Surprise in the Arizona Rookie League. He has 24 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings and sports a 0.95 walks/hits per inning ratio.



•Second baseman Johnny Giavotella, the second-round pick, stepped straight into a full-season league at Class A Burlington. He is batting .297 and has scored 40 runs in 54 games.



•Right-hander Tyler Sample, the third-round pick, struggled early at Surprise but has thrown nine scoreless innings in his last two outings while striking out 12 and walking one.



“You talk to guys who have been in the game for a long time,” assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said, “and they’ll tell you to throw away the first summer — good or bad. You don’t always get the greatest feel.

“But we’re pleased. There’s no doubt about that.”

Montgomery, 19, has pitched 10 shutout innings in his last two appearances and has allowed runs in just three of his nine outings.

“You hate to use the word `projection’ too much,” Picollo said, “but he’s 6 feet 5 and probably about 185 pounds. He’s going to get bigger and stronger, but he already has the arm speed and velocity that you look for.”

Giavotella, 22, is a big reason Burlington is leading the Midwest League’s West Division in the second half after a last-place finish in the first half.

“His arrival kind of settled that lineup,” Picollo said. “(Mike) Moustakas started hitting better. (Jason) Taylor’s (production) numbers are actually pretty good, but his batting average is low.

“Giavotella has swung the bat well. He’s been a run producer and a guy who gets on base a lot. He’s doing a good job in the field, so he’s doing very well.”

Sample, 19, allowed 20 earned runs in his first 15 2/3 innings before his turnaround in his last two outings.

“The thing that jumps out at you when you’re down there (in Surprise),” Picollo said, “is we’ve got a lot of young pitchers there with good size.

“Sample is 6 feet 6. Montgomery is 6 feet 5. (With) Melville done, he’s 6 feet 4. We’ve got a lot of big, strong pitchers, which has been an objective of ours for the last two years.”

Mahay hurting again

Lefty reliever Ron Mahay reported some day-after soreness in his left foot after pitching Friday for the first time since Aug. 6. He was diagnosed with plantar fascia, which results in pain to the heel and bottom of the foot.

“It’s a little step back,” he admitted. “I hope it’s only a little step. I’ve never had this before. I’m learning as I go with this.”

Mahay wasn’t sharp Friday against the Yankees. He walked two of three hitters after replacing Gil Meche to start the seventh inning. Both runners eventually scored, which spiked Mahay’s ERA to a 2.91.

DeJesus returns

Outfielder David DeJesus went two for six in his return to the lineup after missing the two previous games because of a sore lower back

“There was one time when I felt it,” he said. “That was when I had to dive back into first. Other than that, it was OK.

DeJesus played left field when the Royals chose to use José Guillen as the designated hitter. Mitch Maier played center field and had three of the Royals’ eight hits.

Minor details

Third baseman Mike Moustakas, the second overall pick in the 2007 draft, went three for five Friday and led Class A Burlington to a 7-4 victory at Clinton.

Moustakas is batting .324 since July 1 and has raised his overall average to .269. He continues to lead the Midwest League with 21 homers.

The Bees are 32-21 in the second half and lead the Western Division standings by 3½ games over Cedar Rapids with 16 games remaining.

Looking back

It was 28 years ago Sunday — Aug. 17, 1980 — that George Brett reached .401 by going four for four with five RBIs in an 8-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays at then-Royals Stadium.

The picture of Brett standing at second base with his arms raised with his average displayed on the scoreboard remains on of the more indelible images of the franchise’s 40-year history.

Etc.

•The Royals need a victory Sunday to win the season series from the Yankees for the first time since 1999. They hold a 5-4 edge and are 3-3 at Yankee Stadium.



•Zack Greinke’s two unearned runs in the seventh matched his previous total for the entire season.



•The Royals finished with three errors, which matched a season high. They also had three on July 4 in an 11-2 loss at Tampa Bay.



•Mitch Maier raised his average to .352 by going three for five.



•The Royals are 5-6 in extra-inning games.



•It was the Royals’ longest game of the season in terms of time at 4 hours, 53 minutes. The longest previous game was 4:23 at Chicago on June 4 in a 6-4 loss in 15 innings.



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