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Local pitcher signs with Royals

August 15, 2011|By TIM KOELBLE | koelble@herald-mail.com
  • Hagerstown's Christian Binford signs a professional baseball contract with the Kansas City Royals.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — A few years down the road, maybe we’ll see Hagerstown’s Christian Binford pitching for the Kansas City Royals at Camden Yards against the Baltimore Orioles.

The 18-year-old Binford signed a contract Friday with Kansas City and the ink on the pact officially dried Monday.

Already, Binford is in Surprise, Ariz., with the Royals’ Rookie League team and will stay there until the season is completed Aug. 28. He then will participate in the Fall Instructional League.

Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed, but it covers seven years and also includes a college tuition package.

“It’s surreal signing the contract,” said Binford. “Baseball is something I have loved all of my life. I want to be on the field every day.

“This is a dream come true,” he said. “I collected baseball cards when I was a kid, and when we’d go to Iowa to see my mom’s family, we’d go to the ballpark to watch major leaguers on rehab.”

Binford does not expect to pitch during the remainder of the Rookie League season. He’s just getting his arm back in shape since he’s not pitched regularly following the completion of his senior season at Mercersburg (Pa.) Academy.

“I’ll probably get active in games in the Instructional League, three or four innings an outing,” said Binford, who stands 6 feet 7 inches tall and tips the scales at 200 pounds. He said the Royals also want him to put 20 pounds on his frame.

He was the 906th player taken in the 2011 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, going in Round 30 on June 7.

Shortly after the draft, Binford had a workout in front of Kansas City personnel at Ewing M. Kauffman Stadium.

In the time since the workout in Kansas City, Binford looked forward to the day his name would be on a professional baseball contract.

“I was pretty much confident in our conversations with one another,” he said.

Coming off Tommy John surgery in 2009 for a torn ulnar collateral ligament, Binford made it all the way back into top form this season at Mercersburg with a 9-2 record, a 0.57 earned run average, walked only seven and struck out 83 batters in 61 innings pitched. Opponents managed only 25 hits and he fashioned a no-hitter against Peddie School.

“For the first full year back, I didn’t think much about being drafted, but things worked out and suddenly there was a tidal wave of scouts,” Binford said. “As the season progressed, I knew (the scouts) were there to see what I could do and I knew they were dead serious, not just talking.”

Binford was signed by Kansas City scout Jim Farr and also had plenty of praise for Clear Spring coach Mark Shives, a former pitcher.

“(Coach Shives) helped me back from surgery from day one,” Binford said. “He tweaked my windup and helped get me back on their radar.”

Had Binford not signed, he would be making final preparations to head to the University of Virginia, where he had a baseball scholarship.

As the Royals’ organization stands now, Binford’s progression upward through the minors would be Idaho Falls, Idaho, or Burlington, N.C., in rookie ball; Kane County, Ill., in low Class A; Wilmington, N.C., in advanced Class A; Northwest Arkansas in Class AA; and Omaha, Neb., in Class AAA.

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