4 Royals on Thin Ice Heading Into Opening Day

Alec Marsh will be the Royals' fifth starter but needs to prove he belongs
Alec Marsh will be the Royals' fifth starter but needs to prove he belongs / Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
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4. Nelson Velázquez - DH/RF

Let me be clear: I love what Nelson Velázquez brings to the team and think he'll be a key part of the batting order. However, he hit just .179 with 11 strikeouts in Spring Training. With the Royals' competitive outfield and players like Nick Pratto ready to serve as the DH if needed, Velázquez needs to get on track in April for this lineup to find success.

The former Chicago Cub burst onto the scene for Kansas City with 14 home runs in 40 games in 2023, pounding fastballs out of the ballpark with regularity. He's not a plus defender, so his primarily value comes with his bat, and his performance in the spring was discouraging given his breakout near the end of last season.

Few players have the sheer power and brilliant pop off the bat that Velázquez does. In a spacious park like Kauffman Stadium, that power is invaluable if he can consistently deliver it.

He did have 43 strikeouts last year, so plate discipline will be a major area of focus just like it is for Melendez. The Royals certainly have the pieces to create a formidable lineup, but the team needs players like Velázquez to reach their potential to challenge the Twins in the division.

If all of these players improve and deliver on their promise, Kansas City will be in thick of the playoff hunt. After years of disastrous results, that's all Royals fans can ask for.

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