RC Draft Database: Rounds 16-25

RC continues our look at the players the Royals selected in the 2007 draft. Today we examine the selections in rounds 16-25. Once again, several players have strong commitments to college, and others weren't selected as quickly as they'd hoped, so there could be some difficult signs. However, there's also a good deal of talent.

Pick: 486
Name: Patrick Norris
Position: OF
School: Oklahoma City University (OK)

RC Comment:
The selection of Norris in the 16th round was a continuation of the Royals' theme on Friday of drafting speedy outfielders. The 6-foot-2, 21-year old Norris hit .379 for Oklahoma City University this spring, and he stole 19 bases in 26 attempts. A switch-hitting junior, Norris transferred to play for the Stars after spending two years at Butler County Community College (KS), where he led the club with 24 stolen bases in 2006. Norris reportedly runs the 60-yard dash in an impressive 6.3 seconds, and it sounds like he'll probably sign quickly. He's currently playing for the Harrisonburg Turks in Virginia's summer collegiate Valley Baseball League.

Pick: 516
Name: Ivor Hodgson
Position: LHP
School: Mt. Saint Mary's University (MD)

RC Comment:
Hodgson is a talented two-way player for Mt. Saint Mary's University, serving as the team's leadoff hitter and switch-hitting centerfielder when he's not on the mound. However, the Royals like him better as a pitcher, and the southpaw possesses the Mount's best all-time career ERA at 3.23. Hodgson, who was the District of Columbia's Gatorade Player of the Year in high school, was a draft-eligible sophomore, so he might not be in a big hurry to sign if he thinks he can improve his draft position with another year in college. He's playing this summer in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League, and the Royals will probably keep a close eye on Hodgson if they can't ink him right away.

Pick: 546
Name: Stephen Dodson
Position: RHP
School: University of Georgia (GA)

RC Comment:
Despite Dodson turning down $208,000 from the Rockies, who called him during the fourth round of the draft, the Royals selected the 6-foot-5 righty in the 18th round. Dodson, who was a draft-eligible sophomore, posted a 4-6 record and 3.56 ERA while anchoring the Bulldog's rotation. He has already announced that he's planning to return to school in the fall, and he will pitch this summer in the Cape Cod League. The Royals were aware that it was going to take a big bonus to get Dodson signed, and they'll follow him closely this summer to determine if they can offer him what he wants. Regardless, it seems doubtful that the club will go that far above the slot recommendation. If they do, however, Dodson could turn out to be one of the draft's true steals, as he possesses an outstanding frame, a hard sinking fastball, and a slider with much promise.

Pick: 576
Name: Joe Billick
Position: C
School: Southern Polytechnic State University (GA)

RC Comment:
There isn't much information available on Joe Billick, a 6-foot-2 catcher from Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Georgia. Billick led the Hornets in home runs (12) and RBIs (64) while hitting .371, en route to being named to the All-Conference first team in the NAIA's Southern States Athletic Conference. We don't imagine that he'll be a particularly difficult sign. Billick is one of six catchers the Royals drafted in 2007, in a clear attempt to improve the organizational depth at the position.

Pick: 606
Name: Michael Lehmann
Position: RHP
School: Pearl River High School (MS)

RC Comment:
Lehmann has as interesting a story as any player the Royals drafted this year. Two years ago, his family was forced to relocate to Carriere, Mississippi, due to Hurricane Katrina. However, Lehmann made the best of his unfortunate circumstance, dominating opposing hitters for two seasons at Pearl River High while winning 20 games and striking out over 100 batters each year. This spring, Lehmann compiled a stellar ERA of 0.69 for the Blue Devils, who advanced to the second round of the Mississippi 4A State Tournament. The 6-foot-2 righty has a good fastball and curveball, and he signed a letter of intent in November to play at Tulane. However, he doesn't expect to play for the Green Wave this fall. If he doesn't sign with the Royals, he'll likely head to Meridian Community College in Mississippi, a solid indication that he wants to play professional baseball soon. Lehmann was reportedly talented enough that some expected him to go in the top 10 rounds, so it will be interesting to see whether or not he signs. South Mississippi's Sun Herald reports that Lehmann was excited to be selected, and he plans to begin negotiating this week after participating at an All-Star game this past weekend in Jackson.

Pick: 636
Name: Joshua Billeaud
Position: RHP
School: Louisiana State University at Eunice (LA)

RC Comment:
Billeaud is another big pitcher with a projectable frame and hard fastball. The 6-foot-4 righty features a low-90s fastball and a hard slider, and this spring for LSU-Eunice, he went 8-2 with a 2.95 ERA. In 82.1 innings pitched, he struck out 81 batters while walking 27 and allowing 80 hits. Billeaud, a sophomore, has a commitment to attend Southern Miss this fall. Southern Miss's incoming class was particularly hard hit by the draft, and head coach Corky Parker has asked that all players make their decision in the next seven days. It could be a tough decision for Billeaud, since he would be eligible for the draft again next year if he decides to honor his commitment to the Golden Eagles. If he feels that he can significantly improve his draft position with a solid season in the competitive Conference USA, he may pass on the Royals' offer.

Pick: 666
Name: Jacob Rodriguez
Position: RHP
School: East Los Angeles Junior College (CA)

RC Comment:
Rodriguez is a 6-foot-2, 220 pound right-handed pitcher who spent last season at East Los Angeles Junior College in California. Beyond that, we were unable to find any other information about the 18-year old pitcher. His size suggests that he probably throws pretty hard, and he's very young for having already spent a season in college. He doesn't turn 19 until late July.

Pick: 696
Name: Geoff Brown
Position: LHP
School: Jackson High School (WA)

RC Comment:
Brown is another player who was hoping to go in the first 10 rounds of the draft, but he fell to the Royals in the 23rd round. The 5-foot-11 Seattle area native was one of Washington's best high school draft prospects, and he has a commitment to attend the University of Washington in the fall. Brown, a southpaw, had an excellent season for Jackson High, compiling a 6-2 record with a 0.93 ERA. He reportedly has excellent command of his pitches, which includes a deceptive fastball that touches the low-90s, and he struck out a very impressive 83 batters in 45 innings pitched. There were likely some concerns about Brown's size, which may have caused him to fall a bit, and he might be a tough guy to sign. If he does sign, he's another player who could qualify as a late round steal by the Royals.

Pick: 726
Name: Ben Norton
Position: RHP
School: University of Evansville (IN)

RC Comment:
Ben Norton anchored the Purple Aces' starting rotation for the past two seasons, compiling a career record of 18-7 with a 2.89 ERA. He transferred to Evansville after spending two seasons at Wabash Valley Junior College, and in 2006 he won the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Newcomer of the Year Award. Despite his strong season, he went undrafted in 2006, and he returned this year to post a 9-4 record and a 2.55 ERA. In 98.2 innings pitched, Norton fanned 87 batters, and opponents hit just .236 off him on the season. Norton reportedly throws his fastball in the upper-80s to low-90s, and he has what head coach David Seifert called a "major league-caliber slider." It's encouraging that Norton put up such stellar numbers in what has become a very strong conference, and as a senior, he should be an easy sign.

Pick: 756
Name: Clint Robinson
Position: 1B
School: Troy University (AL)

RC Comment:
A four-year starter for Troy University, Clint Robinson rewrote many of the school's offensive records. This spring, the 6-foot-4 first baseman hit .364/.449/.661 with 17 home runs and 71 RBIs for the Trojans en route to a first team All-Conference selection. In his career, Robinson stroked 37 home runs. A left-handed batter, he led the club in hits, runs, doubles, home runs, RBIs, slugging percentage, and total bases in 2007. Robinson was the first of three big first basemen the Royals drafted, and as a senior, he should sign quickly. His teammate and fellow senior, Clegg Snipes, was also drafted by the Royals in the 40th round.

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