Inside baseball with Royals’ player development director

When your job title is Director of Player Development, the currency of your profession is rooted in words such as demotion, graduation and petition.

Acronyms such as PDC (Player Development Contract), MiLB and NTFA (non-tendered free agent).

Scott Sharp has spent the past two seasons as Director of Player Development for the Kansas City Royals, and has been a member of the organization’s front office staff since 2006.

The job comes with a nameplate, a bucket load of airline reward miles and an office just down the hall from Royals Vice President of Baseball Operations George Brett.

This season marks the final year of the Royals PDC with Idaho Falls, and the Post Register caught up with Sharp to talk future, past and the somewhat remarkable “demotion” of No. 1 pick Hunter Dozier — in his own words.

• ON BEING RANKED THE SEVENTH-BEST MINOR LEAGUE SYSTEM

“When you get ranked as a farm system, that’s really a direct reflection of what (Director of Scouting) Lonnie Goldberg has done, and the players you bring in. You have to have good raw materials to make a good product. If you have rotten wood, you’re going to have a rotten house, no matter how well you build it.

“A few years earlier we were ranked higher, but we graduated a bunch of players to the major leagues. When you lose Salvador Perez to the major leagues, and Kelvin Herrera, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer and Greg Holland, Johnny Giavotelo and Wil Myers in a trade — when you lose those kinds of guys from your farm system, that ranking is going to take a hit.

“For us to still be ranked seventh, I take a lot of pride in that because it really shows a depth in our scouting both internationally and domestic.”

• ON BALANCING PLAYER DEVELOPMENT AND WINNING:

“You don’t sacrifice development to win, but winning is a huge part of development. You see that in all aspects of life. If you’re getting beat up every single day, it’s hard to be productive. When you work hard and get results in the form of winning, that makes it easier to come to the ballpark.

“You aren’t going to send a bunch of 28-year-olds to high-A just to win, but when the first pitch is thrown, the goal and the object of the game is to win with who you have out there.

“We will not adjust our development philosophy to try to win, but it is extremely difficult to not win your entire minor league life, and then get to the major leagues and all the sudden try to win at that level.

“You have to develop an understanding of what it takes to win, and what winning is, and to enjoy winning. Winning is very enjoyable. I heard a quote the other day that said losing hurts twice as much as winning feels good. You want players to understand that. At the Major League level its all about winning, so there has to be some focus there at the Minor League levels.”

• ON SENDING TOP PICK HUNTER DOZIER DOWN FROM LEXINGTON TO IDAHO FALLS:

“Hunter left Idaho Falls because he had earned the promotion, no doubt about that. At the time we moved (Dozier) up, Lexington was in a pennant race as well. As soon as they got knocked out, we sent him back because we wanted him to be on the pile-up when they won it. We wanted him to be in the clubhouse to celebrate it, because he deserved it.

“We wanted him to experience the playoffs, and at the same time, going back to Idaho Falls where he was a main cog in getting them there, it worked out well. He got to be on the field when they won it and celebrate. It really worked out well at both ends.

“I never thought of it as a demotion. At that time of the year you are not allowed to do downward moves without filing a petition to Minor League Baseball. It wasn’t like we were sending a triple-A player down. We had an injury and we were sending a player down to go back and play with his team, and they granted us the exception.

“You work that hard with a bunch of guys and get to the playoffs, for him to have to sit home and watch it on MILB-tv, that wouldn’t have been fair to him. It really wouldn’t.”

• ON DRAFTING 12 LEFT HANDED PITCHERS IN THE 2014 DRAFT:

“The first day of the draft was such a big day for us. That was the most picks we’ve ever had so early in the draft in the last six years. Lonnie does a really good job of targeting the guys and then getting them. It just so happened there were a lot of left handers in there.

“Lonnie’s strategy going in was pitching heavy, and we were pretty position player heavy early in the 2013 draft, with Hunter (Dozier), Drew Stubbs, (Daniel) Rocket and those guys. His philosophy is to go after the best guy on our board, and this year that ended up being a lot of lefties.”

• ON THE PROSPECT OF SIGNING A NEW PDC AND REMAIN THE PARENT CLUB OF THE CHUKARS:

“I have always enjoyed working with (Idaho Falls General Manager) Kevin (Greene) and his staff, and hope that will continue. We love the league, and I love the Idaho Falls atmosphere, the ballpark, the town, and everything about it.

“Our plan and our hope is to stay there. Going into this most recent PDC, we told Kevin that we will do our best to put a competitive team on the field, and we just so happened to win the Pioneer League Championship doing that. Hopefully that will show we are committed to Idaho Falls. We know we can’t expect to win a championship every year, but we want to be as competitive as we can year in and year out.”

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