Colon headed to Class A Wilmington

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- This is one year there'll be no bitter, protracted negotiations between the Kansas City Royals and their No. 1 draft pick.

Less than three weeks after the Royals made him the fourth overall pick in the draft, shortstop Christian Colon signed a contract and got ready to report to the advanced Class A affiliate in Wilmington, Del., of the Carolina League.

A person with direct knowledge of the negotiations said the 21-year-old Colon received a signing bonus of $2.75 million. The person asked not to be identified because the figure was not publicly disclosed.

"I'm glad it's over and I can get my career started," Colon said. "I'm a baseball player and I love being out there and playing every day. It was a quick thing but at the same time I was at home and I was starting to get kind of antsy, wanting to get out there and play. I can't wait to start my journey with the Kansas City Royals."

The quick signing is something new for the Royals, who've had several first-round picks go right up to August deadline before finally agreeing to terms.

"We drafted him because we felt he was a great fit for this organization," said assistant general manager J.J. Picollo. "We were hopeful we could get him out playing as quick as possible. It will be two weeks Monday since his last game, so that's just about the right time."

Getting Colon started quickly will be beneficial to everyone, Picollo said.

"It's an advantage simply for the fact he's going to get a couple of hundred at-bats this summer and he's going to be around our coaches and our staff and learn our system," he said. "That will put him ahead of the timetable that would normally be out there for a first-round pick. But it was pretty clear Christian wants to play. He doesn't like sitting around. He wants to get out. I wouldn't say it's a surprise or not a surprise. When we drafted him, we were hopeful. But we knew going into it it may not happen that quickly."

A right-handed power hitter who played shortstop at Cal State Fullerton, Colon was the first college position player drafted by Kansas City in the first round since 2005. He hit .358 with 17 home runs, 68 RBIs and 13 stolen bases in 64 games and helped lead the Titans to an NCAA Super Regional.

"We're going to let him take groundballs for a couple of days and batting practice and try to get in some games early next week," Picollo said.

"He's going to join a group of guys who are a pretty good core of players. But for Christian, it's an adjustment period. He's going to get two months of professional baseball under his belt and then head into spring training. I think these two months will really help his progression as a professional baseball player," he said.

The Royals are also counting on Colon to provide leadership for the young players they drafted out of high school.

"I've always been that way, since I was a little kid. I lead by example," he said. "I'm very honored to have great parents who taught me a lot of things. I'm blessed. I just can't wait to get out there and do what I do, and that's lead by example, hopefully to get everybody better."