Royals sign first rounder Christian Colon

The Royals on Friday afternoon announced that the club has signed first rounder Christian Colon. Less than three weeks ago, the Royals selected the 21-year-old shortstop out of Cal State Fullerton with the fourth overall pick in the draft. The deal reportedly includes a $2.75 million bonus, and Colon will report this weekend to the Wilmington Blue Rocks.

"We're here to announce and celebrate a great day for the Kansas City Royals," said Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo as he opened the press conference announcing Colon's signing.

"We're proud to have him. We were excited a couple of weeks ago when we drafted him, and we're even more excited right now. It's been a good couple of weeks in getting to know Christian a little better, and we're happy that his family can be here to join him on such a good day and good occasion, and we're ready to get moving and get him out to play."

Over the past several years, the Royals' first round picks have generally held out until the August signing deadline. Indeed, the last first rounder to sign as quickly as Colon was Billy Butler in 2004, who inked a contract just days after the draft.

"I'm glad it's over, and I can get my career started," said Colon. "I'm very honored, and I'm excited to get going."

Colon played the last three seasons for Cal State Fullerton. This spring he hit .358/.447/.631 with a career-best 17 home runs and 68 RBIs, leading the Titans to the NCAA tournament. On June 13, Colon's collegiate career ended with an 8-1 Super Regional loss to UCLA.

Colon will report to the Wilmington Blue Rocks on Saturday, and after taking ground balls and batting practice for a couple of days, Colon should begin seeing playing time early next week. The Royals believe Colon will benefit tremendously from the playing time he will receive this summer, thanks to his quick signing.

"I think it's an advantage, simply for the fact that he's going to get a couple of hundred at bats this summer, and he's going to get to be around our coaches and our staff and learn our system," said Picollo. "It puts him ahead of a timetable that may normally be out there for a first round pick."

Colon's collegiate season has been over for less than two weeks, but he said he was already getting tired of sitting around.

"I'm a baseball player, and I love being out there and playing every day. So for me, I'm very very excited that it was a quick thing. I was at home and I was starting to get kind of antsy. I wanted to get out there and play."

The jump from college ball to the High-A Carolina League can be quite difficult, but Picollo sounded confident that Colon will be able to make the adjustment.

"In our evaluations of Christian as a ballplayer, we feel like he can handle the league," said Picollo. "He has a lot of experience at the college level, the international level, and his maturity is a little bit greater than a lot of college players, and I think he's going to fit right in without any issues at all."

For Colon, the opportunity to play professional baseball is a dream come true.

"I really wanted to play pro ball since I was a little kid," he said. "In high school, I had a shot at it and it didn't come through. I'm glad that it's all over now and I have a place to be, and a place to play."

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