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Dozier, Royals' top pick, is unlikely to stay a shortstop

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Hunter Dozier, the Kansas City Royals' first-round pick, was drafted as a shortstop, but it is unlikely he will remain at that position for long.

Dozier, 21, is a power hitter at 6 feet 4 and 220 pounds.

Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar is under contract through the 2017 season, including two club options. So don't be surprised if Dozier switches to the outfield or third base.

"Wherever they need me to play, I'll be 100 percent," Dozier said. "If they want me to play third, outfield or stay at short, I'm down for whatever."

Dozier went to Stephen F. Austin and topped the Southland Conference with a .755 slugging percentage, .396 batting average, 17 home runs and 25 doubles as a junior.

The Royals brought him to Kauffman Stadium last Saturday for a pre-draft workout.

"It's definitely a big ballpark," Dozier said. "When I was taking BP I hit a couple out. It's a big ballpark. I'm going to have to grow and get stronger and get better every day, so I can play in that stadium every day later on and become even more of a power hitter."

Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said Dozier likely would begin his pro career with short-season Idaho Falls in the Pioneer League or with Burlington (N.C.) in the Appalachian League.

"Our goal this first summer is to get him on the ground, get him acclimated, get him playing every day," Picollo said. "He already has played a lot of games this year. He's in great shape, he's ready to play, and by the end of the summer it'll be a good, full season for him.

"We all know we have depth at our shortstop position, but we believe in his ability to play defense. I would anticipate he will get time at shortstop."

But it is his power that enamored scouting director Lonnie Goldberg.

"He's what we look for: big, physical, athletic. And he has a chance to put the ball in the seats," Goldberg said. "He exemplifies what we look for in this organization."

The Royals used their next two picks on left-handers Sean Manaea from Indiana State, 34th overall, and Cody Reed from Northwest Mississippi Junior College, 46th overall.

Manaea was Baseball America's second-ranked left-hander in the draft. He was named the top pitcher and top pro prospect last summer in the Cape Cod League, going 5-1 with a 1.22 ERA, while striking out a league-leading 85 in 57 1/3 innings.
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