Royals Put Holden Capps on the Map

Royals Put Holden Capps on the Map

University of Central Oklahoma pitcher Holden Capps, 6, throws the ball during a Spring 2017 game against Pitt State in Edmond, Okla. (Provided/ Vista Archives). 

Holden Capps, a pitcher from the University of Central Oklahoma, was selected by the Kansas City Royals with the 240th pick of the MLB Draft on Tuesday.

“I don’t think it’s really set in yet,” Capps said. “It’s been a dream since I was a little kid.”

Coming into the second day of the draft Capps said he didn’t think he would get drafted yet, but as more and more teams started to call him, he began to think his childhood dream would be fulfilled.

“It’s a probably one of the best days of my life yesterday, if not the best,” Capps said.

The lefty from Lawton is the highest MLB draft pick in UCO history and the last UCO player drafted since the Royals selected Miguel Moctezuma in 2008. The previous highest draft pick was Guy Hardaker, UCO’s current women’s basketball coach, who was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 10th round of the 1984 MLB Draft.

UCO has now had six players taken in the MLB Draft.

Capps said his next move is to go to Surprise, Arizona, where the Royals have a training site. Capps will attend camps and then find out where his career with the Royals will begin.

Capps wasn’t a highly recruited player out of high school. He said he had a few Big 12 teams contact him, but nothing came out of it. But Capps wouldn’t be deterred and remained extremely motivated.

“I think honestly my biggest strength is my commitment and work ethic,” Capps said.

So Capps went to Redlands CC in El Reno, where he spent two years as the starting pitcher. After two seasons at Redlands CC, Capps decided to transfer to North Carolina-Charlotte.

During the 2014 season with UNC-Charlotte, Capps ended the season with the 11th most strikeouts per game in the entire nation. In his last year with UNC-Charlotte in 2016, Capps had the second most strikeouts on the team, and allowed the least amount of hits on the team of pitchers who threw at least 50 innings.

But, after a couple years in North Carolina, Capps found his way back to his home state of Oklahoma.

Capps said he felt he had a better opportunity to be drafted if he transferred to UCO. He also came back so his family could watch him play if it was his last time playing baseball. Fast-forward a year later and Capps’ career is far from over, as his family now gets to watch him live his dream of being a professional baseball player.

“It’s finally a reality now and it’s a very, very exciting time in my life,” Capps said.

Capps will enter a Royals organization known for churning out young talent. The Royals already have a stock of pitching prospects waiting for their opportunity to be called up to the major leagues. Josh Staumont, drafted in the second round of the 2015 draft, is a right-handed pitcher whose fastball can reach speeds of 102 miles per hour. Staumont is playing for the Royals AAA team, where he has accumulated a 3-5 record so far this season.

Another pitcher Kansas City has sitting in its minor league program is Eric Skoglund. The 6’7 left handed pitcher, was taken in the third round of the 2014 draft and has already seen playing time in the major league. This year Skoglund has gone 1-1 in the MLB, allowing a .333 batting average.

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