We continue our series of roundtable questions leading up to the season. Today we ask our writers - who with the Royals needs to have a good season?
Matthew LaMar: Jorge Soler. He’s got a truly ridiculous amount of raw talent--not only does he have game-changing strength and power, but his sprint spreed ranks in the 80th percentile of all MLB players--and has an eye for drawing walks and on base percentage that is rare in Kansas City. But he’s had a truly injury-bitten career, and if he can’t put it together this year, he’s probably not going to do it. That being said, while it seems like Soler has been around forever, he just turned 27. We all remember what happened to Alex Gordon in his age-27 season after some initial struggles and injuries. Maybe Soler can channel his inner Gordo.
Alex Duvall: I think Hunter Dozier is the best answer here. This is probably going to be his only chance at getting 600 uninterrupted PA in the big leagues to show the front office what he’s capable of. If he has a good season, he could legitimately be a piece of the puzzle moving forward. If he lays an egg, the organization will almost certainly be looking to find a new answer at third base next off-season. Dozier has had a ton of built in excuses for his lack of success over the last few seasons, but he’s run out. It’s make or break time for him, and I’ve got a really good feeling we’ll see good Dozier in 2019.
Shaun Newkirk: Jorge Soler feels like the right answer here. I was critical of the Wade Davis/Jorge Soler swap when it happened, and I don’t think it is really salvageable. However Soler has been in the organization for two years now and has yet to play more than 61 games in a season. If he continues his unhealthy streak, it’s probably time for the Royals to see if someone else is interested in what would be an at least 28-year old Soler.
Ryan Heffernon: Adalberto Mondesi. The Royals farm system was a pleasant surprise last season and it’s going to be exciting watching Singer, Kowar and Lynch develop. However, the system still lacks top-end position player talent. Mondesi looked like he could be that guy last season. Before the Royals can even think about competing, they are going to need several more impact players, but if Mondesi can prove that last season wasn’t a fluke and take a step in the right direction, he is a legitimate star in the making.
sterlingice: Anyone under 25? The farm system? Dayton Moore? Barring a 2003-esque surprise, the team results at the Major League level matter little. I mean, isn’t the only real answer is to hope for positive results for anyone under 25 and down on the farm. I mean, I guess I could narrow it down to any couple of players, but I don’t really care all that much: just have a couple break out and show that they can be MLB regulars or better.
Perhaps the most positive development would be if the farm system can take a huge jump into the top 10 by the end of this season as the better players improve and move up the ladder. If I could have a sentimental wish for the Royals this year, it would be for Alex Gordon to ride off into the sunset with a nice year, decide to retire as a Royal, and await the day his name gets called to the team Hall of Fame as they unveil the World Series home run statue in the concourse.
Hokius: This feels to me like Hunter Dozier’s last chance to be good before he’s out of serious chances to play at the MLB level. Danny Duffy needs to be healthy and good if he wants to stop reading criticisms everywhere. That’s not to say those criticisms are always justified - and the accusations that he’s a “head case” are definitely not justified. But I’d like to see the guy catch a break. If Frank Schwindel finds himself promoted he needs to make an impact immediately if he wants any hope of playing in the big leagues ever again. Jorge Soler is probably running out of chances, too, but not as fast as Schwindel (if he has any) or Dozier.
But the reality is that most of the guys on the team are young enough, established enough, or bad enough that it just doesn’t matter if they’re any good.
Jesse Anderson: Dozier seems to be the guy who we really need to see have a good season. We don’t have much in the pipeline in terms of 3B. I’m not high on Gutierrez, and Rivera seems to have stalled, so he’s not getting heavily pressured by the minors, but this REALLY feels like a make-or-break season for him.
Zimmer also feels this way. Of course, a good season from him to me is 50-80 innings pitched with no injuries. I’d love to see O’Hearn not regress nearly as hard as he’s projected to and be able to at least be the bigger side of a platoon.
Josh Keiser: So many names are coming to mind for this one. I think Soler is high on that list. With him being the primary DH on a team that values defense so highly, I could see them attempting to either trade or extend him this year if he shows that he can stay healthy and put up numbers. I think all of the in-season trade candidates (Maldonado, Boxberger, Diekman, Peralta, Hamilton, Duda, Owings, Bailey) could bring back some lottery tickets in trades that could really help an improving farm system. O’Hearn and Jorge Lopez have flashed some great potential but have some positional competition behind them that adds pressure to them producing. Duffy and Kennedy are both on relatively big money contracts and with Kennedy moving to the pen and rumors of Duffy doing the same, they both need to produce this year to justify their places on this team.
All that being said, I think the guy that NEEDS to have a good season this year is Hunter Dozier. He doesn’t have a ton of competition pushing to take his ABs, and he is still young-ish, and he has positional versatility on his side, but right now he’s playing third base on a team that lacks power. Dayton Moore has said that he’s never going to be too concerned about his offense’s power, but the reality is that a team needs power to score runs. Dozier has some of the best power potential in the lineup, especially without Salvy in there, and it’s time for him to show the ability to tap into that potential consistently. If he can’t, it’s probably time to move on to someone else who can. *cough cough* Nick Castellanos.
Max Rieper: Maybe this is a cop out, but I’ll say Lonnie Goldberg. The Royals really need to have a string of successful drafts to get back on track and he needs to nail it with the #2 overall pick in the draft, and find a few more gems in later rounds.
If there was a player that needed to have a good season I would think Hunter Dozier is probably getting his best last shot at a regular Major League gig and if he can’t produce this year, the team will likely go in a different direction with Kelvin Gutierrez likely ready by 2020.
What do you think? Who needs to have a good season this year?