RC Interview with 2nd round pick Sam Runion

Last week, the Royals selected Sam Runion with the 66th overall pick in the second round of the 2007 draft. The 6-foot-4 righty pitched this spring for A.C. Reynolds High in Asheville, North Carolina, compiling a 5-2 record with a 2.14 ERA. On Monday evening, RC spoke with Runion about his draft day experience, his season, and his pitches.

Royals Corner: First off, congratulations on your selection. How did it feel to be drafted, and can you take us through your day on Thursday?

Sam Runion: Thanks. It was very exciting. It was kind of unexpected, and we were thrilled to be the 66th selection. We weren't expecting it, and we were all surprised and excited and happy.

RC: Where were you expecting to go in the draft, and did you know the Royals were as interested in you as they turned out to be?

SR: Yeah, we heard through the grapevine that there was a chance for a second round pick from the Royals and maybe possibly the Braves, but for the most part we thought it was probably going to be more towards the third round, maybe in the middle of the third round or something like that. It ended it being a lot better than we expected, and it was a pleasant surprise.

RC: Could you talk a little bit about your high school season? I know you put up some good numbers and won some big games, including a decision over Madison Bumgarner, a pitcher who was taken in the first round by the Giants.

SR: My ERA wasn't quite where I wanted it to be this year, but you're right, we did win some big games. We mercy-ruled [45th overall pick] Justin Jackson's team to win the Buncombe County Tournament, which is like the big county tournament each year. We have this cup that every team in the county plays for. And we beat Madison Bumgarner's team in conference play when we matched up at Reynolds High. It was nice. I thought the season went really well, and we had some great games, and it was really fun. It was a good senior season.

RC: Let's talk a little bit about your pitches. Can you take us through your repertoire?

SR: I work off my fastball. I usually try to get righties inside. I can always resort to my low-and-away fastball for a strike. My second pitch would probably be my slider. It's kind of a slurve, it crosses both planes, and it's mainly my out pitch. And then I've got my circle change. That's good on left handed batters. In a fastball count, like a 1-0 or 2-0 count, I can throw the changeup away, and they wouldn't be expecting it. And sometimes every once in awhile, I'll throw it backdoor to a righty.

RC: Do you throw a curveball, or do you mainly just stick with the slider?

SR: I've worked with a curveball, but I for the most part stick with my slider. It's kind of a slurve -- it's not as fast as a slider. It's about 80-82 [mph], so it's kind of like a curveball, except it's more of a sideways movement.

RC: Which pitch would you say needs the most work?

SR: I'd say probably my curveball.

RC: Some publications project you as possibly a reliever in the Major Leagues. Have you ever done any relieving, and have the Royals given you any indication of whether or not you're going to come to Arizona as a starter?

SR: Yeah, I think I'll come in as a starter, and that's what I'd like to be, at least to start out with. I had three saves this year in high school ball, but I guess that's just because I could pitch on a Tuesday for an inning and come in and close the door, and come back on Friday and start. I think that was the reason I closed this year. I think maybe later on I can close, but I'd like to start out as a starter, definitely. But no, they haven't given me any indication, but I imagine that I'll be starting though. It's not normally high school closers that you draft.

RC: You haven't signed yet, correct?

SR: That's right

RC: Once you do, do you have any idea where you might play this year?

SR: If everything goes according to plan, I think mini-camp is actually this coming weekend in Arizona, and then I'll go to rookie ball in Surprise, Arizona, and then I think Burlington, North Carolina.

RC: Did you know much about the organization and the direction it's heading before they drafted you?

SR: No, not so much. I figured out that they picked a lot of right handed pitchers, I think 21 of 25 [pitchers] they drafted. But I didn't know as much about them. They picked me and it was kind of a surprise. I wasn't expected them to get to me before anyone else did. But I kind of brushed up a little bit on it the past few days. I've been looking online at their website and all their affiliates and stuff like that.

RC: Growing up in North Carolina, what team did you usually root for? Did you have a favorite team or a favorite player?

SR: Actually, this will probably get me in trouble, but I liked the Yankees growing up. I always played with the Yankees in Little League, and my dad always coached the Yankees in Little League, and we just had a good time. They've always been a good ball team, and no matter how much you hate them, they can swing the bat and play some ball.

RC: Any pitcher in particular that you like?

SR: I like Roger Clemens a whole lot.

RC: Yeah, I saw he got his first start the other night and did pretty well.

SR: Yeah, that's right.

RC: That's all they need. Well, Sam, congratulations again, and thanks for agreeing to speak with us. Good luck this year.

SR: Thank you very much.

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