Baseball season is officially upon us, and even though Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association are at a standoff, college baseball is underway. The minor leagues will be ramping up soon and anticipate an opening day on April 5th. If the Royals season started today, the roster would look similar to the previous year. There is hope that some of the top prospects such as Bobby Witt Jr., Nick Pratto, and MJ Melendez, make their way to Kansas City.
The youth movement is beginning to take place within the Royals organization. The fans witnessed players such as Brady Singer, Kris Bubic, Jon Heasley, Daniel Lynch, Jackson Kowar, and others make their debuts in the past few years. This was just the first wave of young talent in the pool, as many others are chomping at an opportunity to play inside Kauffman Stadium. With all the excitement around the hopes of baseball, I decided to pick three breakout candidates for the Kansas City Royals in 2022.
Kyle Isbel was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 3rd round of the 2018 MLB Draft from UNLV. At UNLV, Isbel played for three seasons and 170 games. He had 796 plate appearances and 701 at-bats. His stats speak for themselves as he had 226 hits, 40 doubles, 15 triples, 21 home runs, 110 RBIs, 18 stolen bases, 69 walks, and 139 runs. He broke spring training with the Royals in 2021 and played in 28 games. During those 28 games, Isbel had 83 plate appearances and 76 at-bats. He logged 21 hits, five doubles, two triples, one home run, seven RBIs, two stolen bases, and seven walks. He had a .276 batting average, a .337 OBP, a .434 slugging, and .772 OPS.
Isbel has the talent to play at the major league level, and with the Kansas City Royals using right-field as a carousel for players, Isbel should be able to win the job. He has the speed to play the outfield and has seen all three of those positions. Isbel played a majority of his major league games in right-field, logging 101.1 innings. Out of those innings, he was given 25 opportunities with 24 putouts. He did not make an error.
Kyle Isbel is the first player I believe will have a breakout year for the Kansas City Royals. Isbel proved he could play at the major league level and then went down to Omaha (AAA) and finished the season playing good baseball. With the Royals starting their youth movement, Isbel could lead the charge and start with the Royals out of spring training. He will be 25 years old heading into the 2022 season.