KC Royals fans know who Brady Singer, Bobby Witt Jr., and Daniel Lynch are, but who are some of the names on the spring training roster that they might not be as familiar with?
As the Kansas City Royals commence spring training, there are young guys spending their spring with the team in the hopes that they’ll be able to find their way onto the major league roster. While some guys have more of a chance of doing so than others, spring training is a chance for lesser-known players to make a name for themselves.
Here are six players that Royals fans might not know a whole lot about.
Lesser-known names at KC Royals spring training: Jake Brentz
Jake Brentz joined the Royals in 2019 and pitched in 5.1 innings while a member of their AA squad in Northwest Arkansas. Brentz had a 3.38 ERA and is hoping to make it into the Royals’ bullpen.
The 26-year-old southpaw hails from Ballwin, Missouri, and attended high school at Parkway South in Manchester, Missouri. He was a 13th round pick by the Blue Jays in 2013 and spent three seasons there. He’s also pitched in both the Mariners’ and Pirates’ farm systems.
Lesser-known names at KC Royals spring training: Clay Dungan
One of the more intriguing names in spring training is 2019 ninth-rounder Clay Dungan, who played college ball at Indiana State. He can play a variety of positions, including second base, third base, and shortstop, with the Royals mostly using him at shortstop during his Idaho Falls stint in 2019. Dungan slashed .357/.427/.494 in 293 plate appearances with Idaho Falls in 2019.
What makes Dungan an interesting name to watch is the fact that he’s so versatile. The 24-year-old probably doesn’t get an MLB call-up this year, but the Royals inviting him to spring training shows that they believe he can be an option moving forward.
Lesser-known names at KC Royals spring training: Freddy Fermin
The Royals have a plethora of catchers in Arizona and Freddy Fermin is another in that bunch. The 25-year-old hails from Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela, and has been with the organization since 2016. He hit .259 with two different teams (Lexington and Northwest Arkansas) in 2019.
Having a lot of catchers at spring training isn’t anything out of the norm because of how taxing the position is. Fermin isn’t someone expected to sniff a major league roster this year, but it’ll at least be interesting to see how he does catching and hitting against tougher competition.
Lesser-known names at KC Royals spring training: Jon Heasley
A former 13th-round pick in 2018 out of Oklahoma State, Jon Heasley is slowly inching up the name of prospects to know. He’s caught the eye of KC Kingdom’s Cody Rickman, who raved about him in his recent article about pitchers to watch in spring training.
"Heasley is getting better and better the more I see him. There is a good chance he can become a reliable starter in the long-term with the potential to be a No. 4 type starter (4.00 FIP)."
Heasley looked really good in Lexington in 2019, throwing 112.2 innings and finishing the season with a 3.12 ERA. As Cody noted in the blurb above, there’s a solid chance we see Heasley in the starting rotation in the coming years, so it’s good to see the 24-year-old getting an opportunity to make a name for himself in spring training.
Lesser-known names at KC Royals spring training: Emmanuel Rivera
Emmanuel Rivera was a 15th-round draft choice out of Puerto Rico and looked okay the last time he played for a Royals minor league affiliate in 2019. Rivera hit .258 in 534 plate appearances and spent the majority of the season at third base. He did play one game at second base, but third base is his calling.
It’s obviously way too early into spring training, but Rivera — as of this writing– is batting .333 in three plate appearances.
Lesser-known names at KC Royals spring training: Carlos Sanabria
Carlos Sanabria is the only player on this list to have appeared in a major league game, having spent the 2020 season with the Astros and pitching in two games. Sanabria pitched two innings of relief and ended the 2020 campaign with a 9.00 ERA and eventually, the Royals claimed him off waivers.
Sanabria might not be a big name, but he has appeared in a major league ballgame before and therefore knows what he has to do to get back to that level. That could make him an interesting pitcher to keep an eye on throughout spring training, as he’s only 24 years old.
Will any of these Kansas City Royals make it to the big leagues in 2021?