Royals sign Aussie pitcher

In January, Allard Baird and a small delegation of Royals officials traveled to Australia to watch the Under-18 championships, and to interview candidates for a scouting position in the land down under. They ultimately hired Matthew Sheldon-Collins as their Australian scout, and on Wednesday, those efforts paid off as the Royals signed their first Australian player, Tristan Loetzsch.

"This is our first signing in Australia so it was very important to us that we selected a talented and hard working player who would not be easily distracted from the task at hand," said Sheldon-Collins.

Loetzsch, a 6'-1" right handed pitcher, reportedly throws an upper 80s-low 90s fastball, and he possesses an assortment of quality off-speed pitches.

"Tristan is a classic late bloomer," said Sheldon-Collins. "He's got good command of three pitches, and his velocity is steadily rising."

The 20-year-old was attending the MLB Academy in Palm Meadows, Australia, and his older brother, Tyson, spent some time in the Angels' minor league system. Loetzsch has been playing baseball since he was four-years old, but he didn't start taking baseball seriously until he was 17. In 2004, he was selected for both the Queensland Under-18 and Australian Youth teams, and he was sent to the MLB Academy for the first time. He also received an invitation to extended spring training with the Seattle Mariners.

"I'm just thankful for the chance to play pro ball," said Loetzsch. "I am a late developer, but like my brother I am dedicated to hard work, and Kansas City has given me a great opportunity to live my dream."

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