Since riding the high of a championship back in 2015, the Kansas City Royals haven’t had much to get excited about for some time. Their last few seasons have been abysmal, with them consistently on the wrong side of the win/loss column to the unpleasant tune of 100+ losses. Last year they were 26-34 during the Covid-shortened season which would have translated to a 70-92 record overall, nothing to get excited about. That being said, it would appear that they may be back on the upswing with a few veteran additions and a nice crop of young and hungry arms.
The Royals have always been a team that takes great pride in their solid defense, bullpen work, and execution of the fundamentals that have been known to win you a tight ballgame. Never flashy, they just do everything right. These are the staples for the Royals, a necessity as they are constantly at the bottom of the list when it comes to payroll. Some will argue that Tampa Bay made it to the big dance with an even lower payroll in 2020. While that is true, unfortunately, it is not the norm. That is why it is important for a team like the Royals to develop their home-grown talent properly.
The Royals introduced the first two of their, very loaded 2018 Draft class into the Major Leagues in 2020, as right-hander Brady Singer and left-hander Kris Bubic were given the opportunity to demonstrate the skills that rated them two of the names on MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 Prospects list in their rookie seasons. But that is just the tip of the iceberg with the current crop of prospects looking quite impressive as the farm system is ranked 10th among MLB’s best.
20-year-old shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. headlines the Royals’ Top 30 Prospects list for the last two seasons and only seems to be improving since he was the No. 2 overall player drafted in 2019. Another 2018 player drafted is pitcher Daniel Lynch. He is ranked right behind Witt at No. 2 on the 2021 Royals’ Top 30 list and should see some playing time soon as his debut is expected this year. In fact, when it comes to ranked prospects, all of their top 10 are homegrown either through the draft or international signing.
List of the Top 10 Kansas City Royals Prospects
|1||Bobby Witt Jr.||SS||Kansas City Royals||–||2022||20||6′ 1″ / 200 lbs||R||R|
|2||Daniel Lynch||LHP||Kansas City Royals||–||2021||24||6′ 6″ / 200 lbs||L||L|
|3||Asa Lacy||LHP||Kansas City Royals||–||2022||21||6′ 4″ / 215 lbs||L||L|
|4||Jackson Kowar||RHP||Kansas City Royals||AA||2021||24||6′ 5″ / 200 lbs||R||R|
|5||Kyle Isbel||OF||Kansas City Royals||–||2021||24||5′ 11″ / 190 lbs||L||R|
|6||Erick Pena||OF||Kansas City Royals||MLB||2024||18||6′ 3″ / 200 lbs||L||R|
|7||Nick Loftin||SS||Kansas City Royals||–||2023||22||6′ 1″ / 180 lbs||R||R|
|8||Jonathan Bowlan||RHP||Kansas City Royals||–||2021||24||6′ 6″ / 240 lbs||R||R|
|9||Nick Pratto||1B||Kansas City Royals||–||2022||22||6′ 1″ / 215 lbs||L||L|
|10||Austin Cox||LHP||Kansas City Royals||–||2021||23||6′ 4″ / 235 lbs||L||L|
This looks good on paper as all highly ranked prospects do. But, that still won’t fill the immediate hole left by the loss of outfielder and eight-time gold glove winner Alex Gordon. For the last 14 years, he anchored that already solid defense while making it look easy. Those veteran shoes are not easy to fill. Kansas City countered that loss with the additions of all-star first baseman Carlos Santana and former National’s outfielder Michael Taylor as well as Boston’s Andrew Benintendi.
They have also welcomed back center-fielder Jarrod Dyson after bouncing around through Arizona, Seattle, and the White Sox organizations. Contracts have been extended for Salvador Perez and Jorge Soler not wanting to lose Perez’s leadership and both of their potent bats.
The starting rotation should line up with ace Brad Keller returning to run the show while Brady Singer and Kris Bubic return to continue their rookie seasons. Danny Duffy is back for what could be his final season in KC and Mike Minor has also re-signed with the team after three years away. Jacob Junis has been moved to the bullpen and if Duffy should struggle like he did last year, Daniel Lynch and Jackson Kowar should be ready to step in. Wade Davis, signed to a minor league contract, has shown some life in his fastball during spring training. But, his signing is questionable for the shape of the organization moving into the future.
At the current state, the Royals are not primed for any kind of legitimate run. They are a long shot to finish better than fourth in the division. However, they should see a definite improvement this season based on their key additions and a blossoming talent.
Projections put them at 72 -90 for the season but I think that they could come in closer to 77 and 85. This may not seem like much of a difference, but teams have made the wild card with less than that in the past. Kansas City has surprised the league before, they may be primed to do it again.
Featured Image: AP Photo