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Ask Sports: How did the Kansas City Royals build their team?

Alex Gordon played third base for the Wichita Wranglers before becoming an All-Star left fielder for the Royals.
Alex Gordon played third base for the Wichita Wranglers before becoming an All-Star left fielder for the Royals. File photo

How many of the Royals were drafted by Kansas City? Are there any former Wichita Wranglers?

For a first-place team with designs on ending a 29-year playoff drought, the Royals are, for the most part, a homegrown squad. That much isn’t surprising in that Kansas City spent years stocking up through high draft picks.

In 2011 the franchise was ranked as having the best farm system in baseball by multiple outlets.

What is surprising is how much of the homegrown success came from players other than those tabbed as future stars three or four years ago.

In 2011 ESPN’s Keith Law listed six players in his top 100 prospects of baseball, with another two just outside that list.

Who were they? Eric Hosmer, Wil Myers, Mike Moustakas, Mike Montgomery, John Lamb, Danny Duffy, Jake Odorizzi and Chris Dwyer. Of those players, only Duffy has made a significant contribution in the past month to the Royals’ playoff drive.

Hosmer has been injured while Moustakas has been, well, Moustakas. Of course, Myers, Montgomery and Odorizzi were traded for James Shields and Wade Davis, so their contribution has been there, but indirectly.

Of the Royals on Sunday’s 25-man roster, five were first-round picks of the team: Billy Butler (No. 14, 2004), Alex Gordon (2, ’05), Moustakas (2, ’07), Aaron Crow (12, ’09) and Christian Colon (4, ’10); another – Hosmer (3, ’08) – is on the disabled list. Only Butler and Gordon remain from some of the great Wranglers teams in Wichita’s baseball history.

Other players drafted by KC were: Jarrod Dyson (50th round, 2006), Duffy (3rd round, ’07), Greg Holland (10th round, ’07).

The Royals signed these players as amateur international free agents: Salvador Perez, Francisco Bueno, Yordano Ventura and Kelvin Herrera.

They added major-league free agents Jason Vargas, Omar Infante, Raul Ibanez and Bruce Chen.

Minor trades brought them Erik Kratz, Jason Frasor, Nori Aoki and Josh Willingham.

In addition to the farm system and the Shields-Davis trade, two other trades have helped Kansas City contend for its first playoff berth since 1985.

In December 2010 the Royals sent former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke to Milwaukee for Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Odorizzi and former Royal Jeremy Jeffress. The Royals received an amazing haul for what amounted to an 18-month rental for Greinke. It was the anti-Carlos Beltran trade made six years prior, that brought KC nothing of permanent value for an All-Star.

The other trade, which was less heralded at the time, was also a steal for the Royals. In July 2012 they traded Jonathan Sanchez and his 7.76 ERA to Colorado for Jeremy Guthrie. Sanchez never won another game in the majors while Guthrie has been a dependable starter. He chose to re-sign with KC following the 2012 season.

Joshua Wood