Former Royals scouting director Deric Ladnier is joining the Washington Nationals as a national cross-checker and a special assistant to general manager Jim Bowden.
“They called this morning, and we worked some things out," Ladnier said. "I’m excited about it. The role that I’ll play is something that is very appealing to me.
“I still get to be involved in the draft and be able to be involved with things on the major-league side in player development.”
Ladnier spent more than eight years as the Royals’ scouting director before his firing in a Sept. 9 restructuring. Assistant general manager J.J. Picollo was given primary responsibility for the annual first-year player draft.
The Royals offered Ladnier another job within the organization, but he chose to explore other opportunities.
“It’s been an interesting process,” he said. “It’s something I’ve never been through as far as changing organizations in this type of setting. It’s been a neat process to see what other clubs’ feelings are about you as an employee.
“I’ve had a lot of great calls from some wonderful people. I had a lot of opportunities, but I just felt like this one was the best fit for me and my family.”
His responsibilities as a cross-checker will be to follow up on initial reports filed by Washington scouts. The Nationals have the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft after finishing with baseball’s worst record at 59-102. They also have the No. 10 overall pick after failing to sign their top pick in last June’s draft -- Missouri pitcher Aaron Crow.
“I’ll be able to see the top guys for the draft,” Ladnier said, “and be able to help Jim and (assistant general manager) Mike Rizzo and the rest of their staff in spring training and with major-league assignments.
“It encompasses everything. I’ll get a chance to see minor-league players and evaluate them. That’s what was appealing to me _ the opportunity to be involved in everything.”
The job also allowed Ladnier to remain in Kansas City.
“My daughters are freshmen in high school,” he said. “To be able to provide some stability so they don’t have to me, to be able to keep my family here, that was most important to me.”
New hitting coach Kevin Seitzer, because he lives in the Kansas City area, had plenty of opportunities last season to observe the Royals’ hitters. That figures to give him a head start on the job, right?
“Somewhat,” he cautioned. “Part of it is watching the swings and all of that. But the most important part is getting to know who they are as people. What makes them tick? They all come from different backgrounds and have different personalities.
“Being a hitting coach means learning what kind of mind-set you’re working with -- what you need to do and how you need to do it to put them in position to put the fat part of the bat on the ball consistently.
“You have to work with the guys and to find what buttons they need to have pushed to be successful.”
First baseman Kila Ka'aihue is off to a fast start for Escogido in the Dominican Winter League. He is five for 16 with one homer and seven walks in his first five games.
That’s a nifty 1.042 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage).
Other winter notables:
* Outfielder Mitch Maier is just one for 11 through three games for Gigantes in the Dominican. Shortstop Tony Peña is one for five in two games for Aguilas in the Dominican.
* Right-hander Danny Cortes, one of the organization’s top pitching prospects, is getting raked in the Arizona Fall League. He has allowed nine runs and 14 hits in just 4 2/3 innings over two starts for the Surprise Rafters.