Almost six months back I wrote an article called, What will happen with the top Royals prospects in 2022? As we approach the All-Star break, I figured it would be a perfect time to take a look at how a few of my predictions have turned out so far. I will make a full follow-up at the end of the regular season as well. Back in that article, I focused on the four prospects that everyone was anticipating coming into the 2022 season, Bobby Witt Jr., MJ Melendez, Nick Pratto, and Vinnie Pasquantino.
Bobby Witt Jr.
My January 4th Predicted Stats for 2022: 135 Games, 528 PA, 482 AB, .278/.341/.471 slash-line, .812 OPS, 134 Hits, 23 Doubles, 2 Triples, 22 Homeruns, 24 Steals, 42 Walks, 132 Strikeouts, 84 RBI, 76 Runs
Current 2022 Stats: 69 games, 287 PA, 264 AB, .242/.293/.466 slash-line, .759 OPS, 64 Hits, 16 Doubles, 5 Triples, 11 Homeruns, 11 Steals, 17 Walks, 69 Strikeouts, 37 RBI, 40 Runs
Bobby started the season on the big league roster as the majority of us cautiously hoped for, but he was off to a slow start through his first seven games where he only tallied up three hits in his first 28 major league at-bats. Since then he has shown nothing but great potential in all areas of the game. He is playing at the pace of 38 doubles, 12 triples, 26 Homeruns and 26 steals in a full 162-game season. He is the fastest player in the league (by Baseball Savant’s Sprint Speed statistic) at 30.4 feet per second and just yesterday he drew three walks in one game. His strikeout rate (24%) is only one percent higher than it was last season in the minors. To top it all off, he’s making a highlight play with his glove at short seemingly every other day.
Aside from the batting average, he has been even better than I predicted back in January and even that has been trending up as he is batting .270 across his last thirty games and .298 across his last fifteen games. There isn’t much more to ask for from a rookie, he has been one of the best things to watch from the overall lackluster team.
My January 4th Predicted Stats for 2022: 105 Games, 325 PA, 290 AB, .259/.338/.459 slash-line, .797 OPS, 75 Hits, 10 Doubles, 0 Triples, 16 Homeruns, 2 Steals, 33 Walks, 75 Strikeouts, 48 RBI, 43 Runs
Current 2022 Stats: 46 Games, 181 PA, 156 AB, .231/.331/.404 slash-line, .735 OPS, 36 Hits, 7 Doubles, 1 Triple, 6 Homeruns, 0 Steals, 24 Walks, 40 Strikeouts, 17 RBI, 16 Runs
After a grade 2 hamstring strain to Cam Gallagher, the Royals’ hand was simply forced to call MJ Melendez to the show even though he was off to a 13/78 start in the AAA (.167 BA). If that injury to Cam did not happen, MJ would very likely still be out in Omaha with the next two players in this article.
MJ started his career out hot with an OPS of .848 with four extra-base hits (2 Homeruns) in his first 46 plate appearances. Unfortunately for the timing of this article, it seems MJ may be entering his first true slump at the major league level as he is now 2 of his last 22 at-bats. Nevertheless, MJ has shown us a lot of what he is capable of already. He has already taken reps behind the plate and in right field thus far. He is hitting on pace for 21 Homeruns, 25 doubles, and 85 walks in a full 162-game season. He is the sixth-fastest player on the Royals by Sprint Speed, beating out players such as Kyle Isbel, Nicky Lopez, and Andrew Benintendi. And the cherry on top comes from how great his eye has looked at the major league level. MJ’s at-bats this season, starting from his very first game, have been some of the highest quality on the team.
My January 4th Predicted Stats for 2022: 90 Games, 352 PA, 383 AB, .235/.318/.435 slash-line, .753 OPS, 73 Hits, 10 Doubles, 2 Triples, 16 Homeruns, 3 Steals, 40 Walks, 110 Strikeouts, 52 RBI, 47 Runs
Current 2022 Stats: N/A
The Royals officially have 91 games left in the season, so if Nick intends to match my predicted games for him he better hope he is called up by this Tuesday. Statistically, he has taken a slight step down this season in AAA, but he still has an OPS over .800 and he is walking at a great rate. It is very difficult for the major league team to find room for Nick on the current stacked roster. No matter when Nick is called up, I still think he will put up similar numbers to my prediction above once he finally makes it here.
The main concern many have for Nick Pratto in the bigs is his strikeout rate as he was at 29% across AA and AAA last season and is at 31% this season in AAA. The results shown by Bobby’s K% transition to the big league level look to be promising for Nick Pratto, but again, there is just too much veteran depth at first base for Nick to get a look just yet...
My January 4th Predicted Stats for 2022: 80 Games, 300 PA, 268 AB, .276/.353/.425 slash-line, .778 OPS, 74 Hits, 14 Doubles, 1 Triple, 8 Homeruns, 2 Steals, 30 Walks, 45 Strikeouts, 43 RBI, 35 Runs
Current 2022 Stats: N/A
Vinnie unfortunately is in the same boat as Nick, as they are both still trapped chasing storms in Omaha. For the case of the Italian Breakfast however, he has actually taken another step up in the minor leagues this season. His OPS is in the mid .900s and is already nearing on 20 homeruns after only hitting 24 in his full season between A+ and AA in 2021. Vinnie currently has 36 extra-base hits, 34 walks, and 36 strikeouts in 68 games in AAA to follow up his season last year where he had the exact same amount of each stat above. I am certainly not a scout, but I don’t see many players that look more MLB-ready than that in the minors. Even if you aren’t sold on his amazing eye, or improving power, it is important to note that he has also batted .292 in his minor league career across 1052 plate appearances. Let’s hope some major league playing time is found in his direction sooner rather than later.
I will give myself some credit for the predictions I made all those months back, but what I would really like to see is all four of these players on the same batting lineup in Kansas City. By the time the end of the season rolls around, I will be very upset if Nick Pratto and Vinnie Pasquantino still have nothing to show for in the “Current 2022 Stats” section of the article.