The Royals made Crow the 12th selection in the first round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday night.
"I was excited," Crow said. "I've been a Royals fan my whole life. I was always a fan. It was tough sometimes when things weren't going well, but I always stuck with them."
The Royals didn't have another selection until the third round, in which they used the 91st pick for catcher Wil Myers from Wesleyan Christian Academy, a high school in High Point, N.C.
Catching is thin in the Royals' system and, although he hasn't caught much, he's regarded as having the tools to be a good one. A right-handed hitter, 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, he has raw power with bat speed and hand strength. In his first 18 games this year, he belted 13 home runs.
Myers was tabbed by Baseball America as the second-best pure hitter among high school players in this Draft. He has a scholarship to the University of South Carolina.
Crow was selected as the ninth overall choice of last year's Draft by the Washington Nationals but did not sign.
Instead, he went the independent-league route with the Fort Worth Cats, the same path taken by Royals right-hander Luke Hochevar when he didn't sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2005. Hochevar was drafted and signed by the Royals in '06.
Crow pitched two seasons for Fort Worth, this year with a 1.06 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 17 innings. Last season he pitched just three innings, all scoreless, in three games.
"We were getting excited as we moved toward our pick, seeing some of the names that were still up there, and Aaron was a guy that quite honestly, we're happy that he was there," said J.J. Picollo, the Royals' assistant general manager/scouting and player development. "We didn't anticipate that he would be there, but we were prepared that if he were there, he was the guy we were going to take."
Crow, 22, 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, graduated from Washburn Rural High School in the Topeka, Kan., area in 2005. He played for Missouri for three seasons, before entering the Draft last season. In 2008, he was named the Big 12 Conference Pitcher of the Year, going 13-0 with a 2.35 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 107 innings and 15 starts.
"Aaron spent time at our Spring Training complex this past spring," said general manager Dayton Moore. "He's met pretty much all of our scouts, and we scouted this guy very, very hard. He's grown up a Kansas City Royals fan. There's an attraction here. It was really a no-brainer."
Crow explained he was in Arizona and working out at a training facility near the Royals' camp at Surprise. The Royals invited him to their first Spring Training game and he sat down and talked to Moore.
"They were the only team that did that," Crow said. "And now I'm with them."
During his time with Fort Worth, Crow showed scouts that he was close to the pitcher that many teams coveted last year. Scouting reports are that his command was a bit off but that his changeup had improved.
"We have to evaluate where our Minor League system is and where our strengths and weaknesses are. Going into this Draft, we felt like we needed to add advanced pitching, and Aaron fits that bill," Picollo said.
Crow's slider is reported to be his best pitch, and his fastball reaches 95 mph -- although his working speed is 91-92 mph. He's regarded as a poised performer with a loose and athletic frame.
Royals -- Top five selections
|12||RHP||Aaron Crow||No School
|91||C||William Myers||Wesleyan Christian Academy
|122||LHP||Christopher Dwyer||Clemson U
|152||RHP||Harold Coleman||Louisiana St U
|182||RHP||Mathiew White||U New Mexico
|Complete Royals Draft results >|
"We see him as a starter," Picollo said. "He's got three well-above-average pitches. He's got a quality slider, and he's got what I would call a power changeup,"
"We had the opportunity to see him pitch this year, and he dominated a game a lot like our scouts had seen him pitch last year. He'll jump in at an advanced level and handle that level. And you don't like to put expectations out on a pitcher like this, but he's somebody who was advanced and a little bit more prepared to move through our Minor League system."
Crow's agents are the Hendricks brothers, Randy and Alan, headquartered in Houston.
"I'm just looking forward to putting what happened last year behind me and moving on to this year," Crow said.
If he reaches the Kansas City roster, according to baseballreference.com, he would be the first University of Missouri product to play for the Royals.
With pitching the trend in this Draft, Crow was the ninth pitcher of the first 12 players selected. The No. 1 choice of the Nationals was, as expected, San Diego State right-hander Stephen Strasburg.
This year, the Royals had just two picks in the first three rounds. They lost their second-round pick to the Arizona Diamondbacks as compensation for signing free-agent pitcher Juan Cruz.
In 2008, the Royals had four picks in the first three rounds. They used their first pick, and the third overall, to select first baseman Eric Hosmer of American Heritage High School in Florida.
They also selected left-handed pitcher Michael Montgomery of Hart High (Calif.) as a supplemental first-round pick (No. 36). In the second round (No.49), they took second baseman Johnny Giavotella of the University of New Orleans and, in the third round (No. 80), right-handed pitcher Tyler Sample of J.K. Mullen Prep (Colo.).
Round 3, Wil Myers, C, Wesleyan Christian Academy, H.S. (High Point, N.C.):
A right-handed slugger who was tabbed by Baseball America as the second-best pure hitter among high school players in this Draft.