The first week of the KC Royals 2021 Spring Training is complete. The team left fans with optimism as Opening Day approaches.
Even though the games are simply an exhibition, it still provides both answers and questions to think about before the games start to officially count. Here are few things we learned about the Kansas City Royals and two questions still left unanswered after a full week of spring training games.
What we learned about the KC Royals in spring training
Adalberto Mondesi is healthy
On Friday, Adalberto Mondesi made his first appearance in a Spring Training game where he went 1-for-2 with a double and an RBI. Mondesi had been nursing a sore foot and manager Mike Matheny was being very cautious.
Mondesi suffered the injury after fouling off a pitch prior to Spring Training workouts. After seeing him rounding first without appearing to have any real discomfort, it is safe to assume that Mondesi will be starting the season without injury. This is a good thing for this team.
Mondesi finished last season very strong and there is a very good chance he picks back up where he left off. His speed and bat are going to be critical to this team contending in 2021.
Nick Pratto will be climbing the prospect ladder
Nick Pratto had a solid week with the opportunity he was given. He went 3-for-7 and hit a home run. His left-handed swing looked smooth.
Don’t look for him to stay on the Quad City River Bandit’s roster much longer. He could find his way up to AAA by the end of the 2021 season and also have a shot at next year’s Royals team.
As long as Pratto continues to progress, he will place some pressure on Ryan O’Hearn and Ryan McBroom over the next couple of seasons. The Royals have a young player in Pratto that might be the first baseman of the future, but they have Carlos Santana to give him perfect his craft at the plate.
Whit Merrifield will be in right field to start the season (well, we think so anyway)
Whit Merrifield was mic’d up during Friday afternoon’s game on ESPN. When asked about his role as a utility man and where he thinks he will play he answered it simple “right here for today”. Merrifield played in three games this week and spent two of them briefly in right field and started at second base in the first game of spring training.
This still might be worth keeping an eye on to see if Merrifield might end up back at second base to start the season. Soler could start in right field to allow a hot bat in the form of Ryan O’Hearn to get some designated hitter time.
Bobby Witt Jr is on full display
No need to get too in-depth with this. Just look up Bobby Witt Jr. on the internet and see what happens. You’ll like what you see.
Witt hit a homer in the third inning on Saturday off of the Giants’ Tyler Rogers, who has already pitched in 46 career MLB games with a career 5-3 record. Don’t be surprised if Witt shows he can hit big-league pitching most of this spring.
Questions we have about the KC Royals after Week 1
What does the Jarrod Dyson free-agent signing do to the roster?
The Royals are reuniting with yet another familiar name in Kansas City. The question is — How will this impact the 26-man roster? Currently, on the 40-man roster, the Royals have seven listed outfielders including Jorge Soler who normally is the designated hitter. This means Royals fans will not be seeing Kyle Isbel or Bubba Starling get an Opening Day roster slot.
Nick Heath and Edward Oliveras will also be left off the 26-man roster for the 36-year-old veteran who batted only .180 in 61 official plate appearances combined with the White Sox and Pirates in 2020.
Jarrod Dyson appears to be someone that Dayton Moore values more for his clubhouse presence than the statistics he has produced over the past three seasons. He values it enough that he won’t be giving a younger player the opportunity to produce as much but at a price tag lower than the $1.5 million-plus incentives due to Dyson this season.
Maybe Moore has another trade up his sleeve that might involve some of the younger outfielders waiting their chance to make the team.
Do the Royals really think they can contend?
While this is still up in the air as to what will actually happen, the answer from the Royals is a resounding yes and the rebuild is starting to look like it might be coming to an end. The Royals really have some talented young players that are being held up that might spark some trade interest once the 2021 season starts.
Would the Royals consider making a move to get another rebuilding team’s veteran No. 2 or 3 starter at the deadline? Not suggesting it, but Zack Greinke might be an arm for hire if the Astros aren’t going to contend.
Would it be worth dealing a younger player or two to get some games and postseason with him? Hey, Moore right now seems to love reunions. Just saying.