Kansas City Royals: Who Is The X Factor for 2014

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Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Yordano Ventura (30) Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

With the Kansas City entrenched in the daily grind of Spring Training, and with the start of the 2014 MLB season just a few short weeks away, I wanted to examine what players will play pivotal roles in the ultimate success or failure for the Royals this year.

There are so many key players on this team, but I wanted to look at a few specifically. I’ve picked only three players. And in my opinion these players must perform at a high level if this team has any chance of challenging Detroit and Cleveland in the American League Central.

The first player on my list is right handed pitcher Yordano Ventura. This kid has an electric arm. All but locking up the number five starter spot with a spring training win last week against the A’s, Ventura has been nothing short of stellar in his limited time as a big leaguer.

He possesses amazing natural ability, and brings a lightning fastball that can consistently go over 100 mph. He can bring that heat every single pitch if he so chooses. There have already been early comparisons of Yordano “Ace” Ventura to the great Pedro Martinez.

There’s no doubt in my mind Ventura can be a star for the Royals, the big question in my mind is can he be a star in 2014? The rotation as it stands now looks solid but with some legitimate question marks as well.

The hope is that he can show maturity and poise on the mound, and realize he doesn’t have to beat everyone with raw speed. He needs to prove he can command his off speed pitches effectively, and eat up some innings for the Royals.

If Ventura can play like he is ready to be a starter, and be an effective one at that, this team will have at least filled some of the void left by Ervin Santana. It’s so exciting to think of the immense potential Yordano Ventura brings to the table. There’s no doubt that he will play a pivotal role for the Royals this season, and he is a huge potential x factor for 2014.

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Tags: Alex Gordon Dayton Moore Featured Kansas City Royals Mike Moustakas Popular Yordano Ventura

  • Nathaniel Harelson

    I couldn’t agree with you any more on who the x factors of the royals this year will be. Especially with Moose. I think he is the key for the offense. His defense has been pretty consistent since he’s hit the majors, but he can take an average offense to one of the best in the league if he hits the way he has shown he can in spurts. I, as well, like the signing of Danny Valencia. Competition can bring the best out of a player, but can also bring out the worst. If it brings out the worst of a player, then you know its time to move on because you don’t want those types of players on your team. I believe, however, that Moose is strong-minded enough that he will embrace the competition, and become the player we know he can be. I also want to note with Alex Gordon, how important and beneficial it is going to be for him knowing that everyday when he comes to the park he is going to know exactly where he is going to be hitting in the lineup. As a former high school and college baseball player myself, I know that there is a huge difference in the way you approach an at-bat depending on where you are hitting in the lineup. A leadoff hitter approaches an at-bat completely different than a guy hitting in the middle of the order, and with Alex knowing where he is going to be hitting game in and game out he can focus in on what a, in all likelihood, 5 hole hitter is suppose to accomplish. As for Ventura, He’s a star that’s waiting to blossom. He is going to have ups and downs all season. We need to expect that the inexperience is going to show, but with his ability to throw that ball the way he does, if he brings the right attitude to every game and takes note of teammates such as Big game James, Then by the end of the year we could be talking rookie of the year considerations. That’s how highly I think of him. Also, I think Danny Duffy could be another guy we depend on later in the year. Even if he starts in triple-A, he can have huge contributions to this ball club. Baseball seasons are long and grueling. His time will come to contribute, and he has ability to be a top of the rotation guy. I think his biggest challenge is keeping his pitch count low, and going deep into games because the stuff is there. He needs to learn to trust his stuff, and go after hitters. If he starts the year in triple-A, and he can manage his pitch count, I see Duffy being a guy who we can also lean on late in the year. This was a great read Jared and I look forward to seeing more analysis.

  • Jared Barzee

    Thanks for the reply Nate! Appreciate the kind words. I also think Duffy will play a big role at some point, he just has to show he can consistently eat up innings as a starter. Otherwise, I worry he’ll eventually get sent to the pen. And Moose really is the key to the season imo. You’re right his defense has never been the problem but he’s gotta show he can hit for power, and drive in some runs for this team. The talent is all there, just has to execute. Gonna be a fun season. I can’t wait.