Legends Luncheon – Part 1: A look into Dayton Moore's plans

9-17 Buck.jpgAround the Horn got a treat today with the final State Farm Legends Luncheon of the season. General Manager Dayton Moore and manager Trey Hillman chatted with former Royals Al Fitzmorris and Willie Wilson for a few hours in downtown Kansas City and we got to listen.

For today, we’re going to give you a taste of what went on during the event.

If you haven’t been to one of these, we here at ATH strongly recommend them. Wilson and Fitzmorris serve as the host and talk to guests who are connected to Kansas City baseball or even players and coaches who represent the legacy of the Negro Leagues and Buck O’Neil. For more info, check out www.bestofbuck.com.

Today’s session started with a thank you to all those in attendance. Through nine years of Luncheons, over $100,000 have been raised for the Negro Leagues Museum. That’s a substantial sum for what started as an idea hatched in a conference room.

Once Wilson and Fitzmorris took the stage, they introduced Hillman and Moore. Wilson, who endorsed TeamSmile before the interview started, thanked Moore and his staff for bringing back the Royals Alumni. Wilson said he really enjoys being involved in the organization again and feels it will help re-instill the tradition of the franchise to the new players.

9-17 Wilson.jpgWilson said it means a lot to him because he has a strong connection with the Royals. He worked his way through the system. So when he got to the bigs, he felt ownership over the team and pride in the uniform he wore. Similar to how he felt once he reached the Majors, Wilson said 60 percent of the Major League club needs to be grown through the farm system.

Moore agreed with him and spoke about being able to draft. He said that in the past, it wasn’t totally an issue of money being put into the draft, but instead the picks which did get the money didn’t pan out the way they should have. The philosophy has changed.

“You have to draft on ability and not signability,” Moore said.

Moore then talked about growing scouting everywhere and not just looking at the draft as a means of acquiring talent to be groomed. 9-17 Moore.jpgAt this moment, the team is working on developing a foothold in the Eastern Rim – with area scouts and talent evaluators. The team is also ramping up efforts in Latin America and becoming more aggressive in the Dominican Republic, where the Royals already have a baseball academy.

To grow the system even more, programs are in place for the Fall Instructional League that will allow players who workout during the day and attend classes at night at Glendale (AZ) Community College. They will learn about leadership, character and responsibility on and off the field. Moore said this is something no other team is doing.

Wilson said home-grown players have an attachment to the “Blue and White,” a bond they’ve formed with the team since entering the organization and then continued as they flourished inside of it. Moore seconded his thoughts, saying “Players have to feel strongly about putting on the Royal uniform.”

These programs are making the Royals the toast of the league. In some respects, the Major League club may not be the strongest competition, but scouts are raving about the work going on in the Minor Leagues and at the scouting level. But there is still a lot of heavy lifting to be done.

9-17 Trades.jpgFor example, he threw out a few names the Detroit Tigers picked up over the last offseason. To acquire Edgar Renteria, the Royals would have had to give up Luke Hochevar and Dan Cortes. To get Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera they might have had to fork over Hochevar, Cortes, Derrick Robinson and maybe even Danny Duffy. Those trades would have decimated a thin minor league system. Moore said beyond those few, there was a large gap to get to the next tier of talent in the system.

“Before we build a great farm system, it will be very difficult to impact the Major League team,” Moore said.

The Royals are 10-5 this month, eclipsing their 2007 September win total with 11 games left in the season…When Brandon Duckworth struck out Wladimir Balentien to end the sixth inning; the 2008 pitching staff become the Royals strikeout kings. They passed the 1990 staff which had 1,006 punch outs with Duckworth’s K and ended the night with 1,010 for the season. That number is sure to skyrocket with Gil Meche and Zack Greinke likely to get at least two starts still (both are in the American League’s top 10 for K’s this season)…As a team, the K.C. offense produced a cycle in the fifth inning last night. It was the first time since June 14, 2007 that the Royals have singled, doubled, tripled and homered in one inning.

Today’s lineup: It’s Halfway to St. Paddy’s Day… Go Green with Flannigan’s Right Hook.
DeJesus CF
Aviles SS
Guillen RF
Shealy 1B
Butler DH
Teahen 3B
Buck C
Callaspo 2B
German LF

Meche P

Today’s Official Game Notes.

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