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Royals add six players to the 40-man roster, designate Kyle Zimmer and Lucius Fox for assignment

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We know who will be exposed to the Rule 5 draft.

MLB: JUL 02 Twins at Royals

The Royals announced today they have added minor league catcher MJ Melendez, infielders Maikel García and Nick Pratto, and pitchers Jonathan Bowlan, Collin Snider, and Nathan Webb to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 draft. To make room on the roster they designated infielder Lucius Fox and pitcher Kyle Zimmer for assignment. Fox was claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles.

Pratto and Melendez were no-brainers to add to the roster after their amazing turnaround this season that landed them on the top 100 prospect list by Baseball America. Pratto hit .265/.385/.602 with 36 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A this year, while Melendez led all minor leaguers with 41 home runs while hitting .288/.386/.625 as a catcher.

Maikel García was an unsurprising addition as well after hitting .291/.380/.405 with 35 steals in 104 games for A-ball Columbia and High-A Quad Ciites. The 21-year Venezuelan infielder is a switch-hitter with good speed and an ability to draw walks that would have been attractive to other clubs. Bowlan was not much of a surprise either, even though he will miss most of next season after Tommy John surgery. Although he turns 25 next month, he impressed with a 3.14 ERA and 150 strikeouts in 146 innings in High-A and Double-A in 2019, including a no-hitter for Wilmington.

Webb was an interesting addition as a local kid from Lee’s Summit who throws a high-90s fastball that has hit 100 on occasion. The 24-year old right-hander struck out 89 hitters in 59 13 innings for Columbia and Quad Cities this season. Snider was perhaps the most surprising addition. The 26-year old right-hander put up good numbers in Double-A this year with a 2.97 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 36 13 innings as a reliever, but struggled upon his promotion to Triple-A, posting a 6.03 ERA with just 6.9 strikeouts-per-nine innings.

Among the notable players the Royals left off the 40-man roster that will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft include outfielders Dairon Blanco, Eric Cole, Brewer Hicklen, Seuly Matis, and Juan Carlos Negret, left-handers Austin Cox and Josh Dye, right-handers Zack Haake, Yefri del Rosario, Grant Gavin, and Zach Willeman.

The Royals designated former first-round pick Kyle Zimmer for assignment, but could still re-sign him as a minor league free agent if he clears waivers. Zimmer was the fifth overall selection in the 2012 draft, but battled a myriad of injuries early in his career. He pitched in parts of three seasons with the Royals, posting a 5.19 ERA in 95 13 innings with 8.5 strikeouts per-nine-innings but a high walk rate. The 30-year old pitched in 52 games this year with a 4.83 ERA.

Lucius Fox was originally acquired from the Rays in 2020 for outfielder Brett Phillips. The 24-year old switch-hitter was a former top 100 prospect with good speed, but his bat did not develop enough and he hit just .242/.347/.363 with 19 steals in 57 games with Triple-A Omaha this season.

Today was the deadline to add minor leaguers to the 40-man roster in anticipation of the Rule 5 draft which is scheduled to be held on December 9 during the Winter Meetings, but could be in jeopardy with the expiration of the current labor deal before then.