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Royals Rumblings - News for January 18, 2019

How many position players will make the Opening Day roster?

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Kansas City Royals v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Royals Rumblings - News for January 18, 2019

In a mailbox column, Jeffrey Flanagan considers how many position players will make the Opening Day roster.

I hate to use the tired “anything is possible” line, but of course, that’s true. However, I don’t see a scenario for that to happen because with Terrance Gore among the 11 already -- they signed him with the plan he would be a late-inning pinch-running weapon -- that would mean releasing someone like Brian Goodwin. That seems unlikely. While Jorge Bonifacio and Brett Phillips have options, there’s still a chance one of those could crack the 25-man roster and get a decent amount of playing time to justify not sending them to Triple-A Omaha. The other factor is, while having Whit Merrifield and Chris Owings gives manager Ned Yost plenty of lineup versatility, if the Royals pinch-run Gore as often as they project, they’ll need that extra guy on the bench if they stretch games to extra innings. Gore would be a candidate to pinch-run for Alex Gordon, Salvador Perez, Ryan O’Hearn and possibly Jorge Soler, Goodwin and Bonifacio (if he makes the team). They might even go with 13 position players.

Rustin Dodd at The Athletic considers how the rotation looks after Eric Skoglund’s suspension, with Jorge Lopez and Heath Fillmyer in line for the fifth spot.

Other options could include Ben Lively, Scott Barlow, Glenn Sparkman, Trevor Oaks and Arnaldo Hernandez, a rising prospect who impressed in the Arizona Fall League. The club also possesses two wild cards: Kyle Zimmer, who is healthy again after spending time with the gurus at Driveline Baseball in Seattle last summer; and Jesse Hahn, who underwent “primary repair” surgery on his ulnar collateral ligament last summer. Hahn was said to need at least six months of recovery, according to the club, putting his availability for spring training in question.

Rustin also writes about the Kansas City Urban Youth Academy, one of Dayton Moore’s pet projects.

In essence, the Royals and the staff at the Urban Youth Academy are seeking to battle against the factors that have led to a dwindling number of African-Americans in Major League Baseball and an even smaller percentage at the power-five conference level. The first goal, of course, is not to create major leaguers, says Darwin Pennye, the academy’s executive director. Yet Pennye, a former Pirates minor leaguer, sees value in expanding the talent pool. If the academy can reach more kids in Kansas City, it can create lifelong baseball fans and grow the game. And if the pool is expanded, they are bound to discover and develop elite level players who can leverage the sport for an education or something more.

“We have the ability to make the first experience a great experience,” Pennye says. “If you get more kids playing, you’re bound to develop elite-level players.”

MLB Pipeline ranks Nick Pratto the sixth-best first baseman prospect in baseball.

Group tickets for Royals Opening Day are now on sale.

Danny Duffy has thoughts on this weekend’s football game.

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Tim Tebow gets an invite to big league camp with the Mets.

Ken Rosenthal writes that labor peace will depend on MLBPA chief Tony Clark making concessions.

The Red Sox don’t seem inclined to bring in a closer.

It looks like MLB payrolls will be down for a second straight year.

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