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Royals call up first baseman Ryan O’Hearn

Is Lucas Duda on the move?

MLB: Spring Training-Kansas City Royals at Los Angeles Dodgers Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals are promoting first basman Ryan O’Hearn to the big leagues, according to reporter Robert Murray of The Athletic. No official move has been announced, and no corresponding roster move has been reported. The move could signal a trade of first baseman Lucas Duda, or O’Hearn could be up to replace an injured player. Outfielder Brian Goodwin suffered a groin injury in New York over the weekend and may eventually be placed on the disabled list. O’Hearn has played 85 games in the outfield in his minor league career. The Royals could also be demoting Hunter Dozier who has not played well, hitting just .207/.268/.342 in 57 games.

The left-handed hitting O’Hearn was originally an eighth-round pick by the Royals out of Sam Houston State University in 2014. He turned 25 last week and in his second tour in Omaha is hitting .232/.322/.391 with 11 home runs in 406 plate appearances. O’Hearn has always been a patient hitter with 10.6% career walk rate in the minor leagues. He has hit for prodigious power in the minors, but that pop has fallen off this year.

O’Hearn was unranked in the top 30 prospects list in the Royals’ system by MLB Pipeline, but was ranked 17th before the year by John Sickels, who wrote O’Hearn “could be a useful role bat along Clint Robinson lines”, grading him a “C+” prospect. Our own Shaun Newkirk ranked him fifth in the organization, but noted “his AAA debut wasn’t as strong as you’d like for a guy who has to hit at each level he sees if he’s going to be first base only.”

It is unclear if there is much of a trade market for Lucas Duda, but it would seem odd to bring up O’Hearn if he were not given the chance to play on a regular basis. The Royals will have to create room on the 40-man roster to add O’Hearn. O’Hearn was promoted over teammate Frank Schwindel, another first baseman at Omaha, who was hitting .272/.325/.488 with 19 home runs in 416 plate appearances. Schwindel has always shown good power, but is a year older and has had trouble with plate discipline, although his numbers have improved significantly this year in that department.

2:49 p.m. update: It’s official.