KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Bobby Witt Jr. has spent his much of his short life around the major leagues.
For the first time Wednesday, he was the star attraction at the ballpark.
The son of retired pitcher Bobby Witt was introduced as the highest-profile new member of the Royals’ farm system. Witt, who turns 19 on Friday, was the second overall pick in last week’s draft.
“It’s a blessing for me to be a part of this organization,” Witt said. “They really respect their players and their staff. I was really impressed with the respect they had for me.”
Witt has been compared favorably to some of the top shortstop prospects in recent history, including Alex Rodriguez.
He said he looks forward to trying to live up to that lofty billing.
“That motivated me,” Witt said. “You can write all that stuff down on paper, but until I perform the way they did, I’ll never be satisfied. I’ve got to go out there and play my game. Maybe one day I’ll be there.”
The Royals have not announced where Witt will make his professional debut.
“He’s our kind of guy,” general manager Dayton Moore said. “(He fits) our city, our fans. I can’t say enough about his family and how he was raised. The way Bobby handles questions speaks for itself. The thing I’ve admired about him for a while is, while he’s the guy everyone gravitates to, he treats everybody else like they’re the first-rounder. That’s a great quality to have.”
Director of scouting Lonnie Goldberg said the decision to pick Witt was “easy.”
“He’s been an absolute blast to scout as a player,” Goldberg said.
Witt is the highest selection by the Royals since they took Luke Hochevar with the No. 1 overall pick in 2006.
He received the highest signing bonus in club history. And in an added bit of pressure, MLB Network’s Jim Callis compared Witt to NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes, saying he would have the same impact with the Royals that Mahomes did with the Chiefs.
Witt and Mahomes both grew up in Texas.
“Mahomes is a great player, and I grew up watching him. With him going to Texas Tech and me being an OU Sooners fan, I was always rooting against him. I watched him and Baker (Mayfield) put 60 or 70 points on the board. I’ve heard he’s done some great things off the field in the community as well. Hopefully I’ll one day make it to the major league team and I’ll be able to do the same things.”