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Royals make it official - Bobby Witt Jr. is on the Opening Day roster

The Kid earns a ticket to The Show.

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Kansas City Royals Photo Day Photo by Kelsey Grant/Getty Images

On Tuesday the Royals made official what most observers expected, adding Bobby Witt Jr. to the Opening Day roster. The 2021 Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year will make his Major League debut on Thursday against the Cleveland Guardians. Jon Heyman had reported last weekend that Witt would make the club. Witt is expected to start at third base for the Royals. He would need to be added to the 40-man roster, which is currently full, but no corresponding roster move has yet been announced.

Witt was the second overall pick in the 2019 draft out of Colleyville High School in Texas. Last year was his first full season in the minors, and he destroyed the upper levels, hitting .290/.361/.576 with 33 home runs and 29 steals in 124 games across Double-A and Triple-A. Witt is a five-tool player with a quick bat, plus power, blazing speed, and strong defense. MLB Pipeline and Baseball Prospectus both ranked him as the #1 prospect in the game.

Some teams may have tried to game the service time of a player like Witt, calling him a few weeks into the season to push back his free agency. The Royals have traditionally not been a team to play service time games, and there is less incentive to do so under the new labor deal. If Witt were to finish in the top two of Rookie of the Year voting, he would get a full year of service time regardless of when the Royals called him up. Evan Dreilich of The Athletic also explains that the Royals can get a draft pick by adding Witt to the Opening Day roster if he does well.

Players with 60 days of service or less, who have rookie eligibility and are included in two or more of the preseason top-100 prospect lists put out by Baseball America, or ESPN, are eligible. If, in the time before they hit salary arbitration, those players go on to win Rookie of the Year, finish top three in MVP voting or top three in Cy Young voting, their team gets an amateur draft pick following the end of the first round.

Witt is one of several top prospects that have made Opening Day rosters joining Spencer Torkelson of the Tigers, Julio Rodriguez of the Mariners, and Hunter Greene of the Reds.

The Bobby Witt Jr. era starts now! What are your expectations for his rookie season?