KC Royals: 12 hitters to keep an eye on in spring training

Bobby Witt Jr #7 of the Kansas City Royals (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Bobby Witt Jr #7 of the Kansas City Royals (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /
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MJ Melendez #70 of the Kansas City Royals (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
MJ Melendez #70 of the Kansas City Royals (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /


The Royals have good defensive depth at catcher. In case Salvador Perez does not get a contract extension, their development offensively will be important for 2021 and beyond.

Cam Gallagher and Meibrys Viloria are in competition for the back-up role. Viloria is out of options and Gallagher has one option left. Both are good defenders with Gallagher being the better receiver and Viloria having the better arm. Viloria will need to out-hit Gallagher to win the back-up spot on the roster. The winner of this back-up competition becomes the likely starter if Perez leaves via free agency.

Sebastian Rivero and M.J. Melendez are both plus defenders who have not hit well to this point in their minor league careers. Rivero is a strong candidate to be a long-time back-up and potentially something more if his offensive game picks up. Both Rivero and Melendez have developed experience and familiarity catching the Royals’ pitching prospects.

Melendez has the better power profile and is a world-class defender. Melendez has worked on developing his approach at the plate and adjusting his stance at the plate to better see incoming pitches. He has the defensive talent to be a perennial gold-glove candidate behind the plate.

Melendez’s offensive development has been slow as is typical for drafted high school catchers. There is the potential for a .250 hitter with 15-18 home runs once Melendez gets more experience against advanced pitching.

First Base

Nick Pratto is a wizard defensively and the Royals will need him to continue to develop his plate approach. He is the heir apparent at first base once Carlos Santana’s contract expires after the 2022 season. Pratto needs to continue to put together good at-bats (4+ pitches seen) and drive the ball with more authority.

Pratto has the offensive profile and projection to be a plus hitter if he continues to develop with a projected slash line of .270/.340/.440. He might be one of the best base-runners in the Royals organization. Expect him to steal around 10 bases per year with the instincts to take an extra-base and put himself into a position to score.

Pratto may be a better defensive prospect than former Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer who won four Gold Gloves with the Royals. Having a human vacuum cleaner at first base makes the rest of the infield better when they can be more aggressive with throws to first base.

Pratto has excellent range around the first base bag and will limit hits to the right side of the infield. He has an outstanding arm as well and will be comfortable throwing around the infield to increase the likelihood of double-plays and throwing out lead runners.