4 Royals on Thin Ice Entering Spring Training

Jordan Lyles posted a 6.28 ERA in 31 starts in 2023
Jordan Lyles posted a 6.28 ERA in 31 starts in 2023 / Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
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The Royals open 2024 Spring Training on Friday afternoon against the defending World Series champion Rangers and expectations are the highest they've been in years for Kansas City.

Bobby Witt Jr. is here to stay, while several notable free-agent acquisitions have this pitching staff ready to compete in the AL Central. FanDuel Sportsbook has the Royals' win total set at 73.5, indicating a stark improvement to last year's club.

However, an unfortunate reality that comes with bringing so many quality players to the Royals means that some others will be on the outside looking in. With that in mind, let's look at four Royals on thin ice as we open Cactus League action in Spring Training.

4 Royals on Thin Ice Entering Spring Training

1. Nick Pratto - 1B

The 2017 14th-overall draft pick is running out of time to prove he can stick with this ascending Royals core group of players. He had the seventh-most at bats in 2023, though hit just .232 with 138 strikeouts to only 29 walks.

Plate discipline has been Pratto's biggest problem overall, while his power hasn't translated the way Royals fans thought it would initially. He's still got plenty of promise, but Vinnie Pasquantino will likely start at 1B after returning from injury and Nelson Velasquez is slotted to be the DH.

After signing players like Hunter Renfroe to fill in as well, there's not much space for Pratto if he continues to strikeout at such a high rate.

That being said, Pratto was a highly-touted prospect for a reason. He was scorching hot to start the season last year, posting a .400 OBP in April and a .398 mark in May before struggling for the rest of the campaign.

If he can tap back into that early-season form, there's certainly a spot for Pratto on this team. Otherwise, he could soon be on his way out of Kansas City as the team prioritizes emerging bats in an effort to compete for the division.

This next player is one fighting for a new contract, though needs to show considerable improvement to earn it.

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