Spring training is nearly here with Royals pitchers and catchers scheduled to report tomorrow with their first full workout the next day, and the first full team workout next Monday. Some players are already in Arizona, with several World Baseball Classic participants reporting early to get their work in.
In addition to their 40-man roster, the Royals have invited some non-roster players to their big league camp.
Austin Cox was a 2018 draftee who was one of Omaha’s best pitchers last year, posting a 4.21 ERA in 147 1⁄3 innings. The lefty turns 26 in March and throws in the low-90s, so his upside isn’t great, but you could see him up in the big leagues making starts this season.
Yefri del Rosario was signed once the Braves were forced to let him go following their signing scandal. He struggled in Double-A in 2021, but moved to the bullpen full-time last year and improved his numbers a bit with a 4.48 ERA in the upper minors. His strikeout numbers aren’t great, but he’s still just 23 and could have some upside as a reliever.
Brooke Kriske was signed as a minor league free agent after spending last year in Japan. He has pitched 15 innings in the big leagues with the Yankees and Orioles, although his biggest claim to fame is uncorking four wild pitches in one inning. The 29-year-old right-hander throws in the low-to-mid-90s with a slider and splitter.
Mike Mayers also signed a minor league deal after pitching for the Angels last year. He was very solid in 2020-21, with a 3.34 ERA with 133 strikeouts in 105 innings as a reliever, but regressed last year. The 31-year-old throws in the low-to-mid-90s with a slider and a cutter, and has even made some starts in the past.
Andrés Núñez doesn’t seem to make prospect lists, but he has put up solid numbers at each level. Last year for Omaha he posted a 3.61 ERA with 69 strikeouts and just 17 walks in 62 1⁄3 innings of relief. The 2018 draft pick out of Florida International is 27-years-old, but could be a sleeper to contribute in the bullpen.
Evan Sisk was acquired from the Twins in the Michael A. Taylor trade. The 25-year-old had terrific numbers in the minors last year with a 1.57 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 63 innings across Double-A and Triple-A. The lefty pitches from a lower arm angle and could be a lefty specialist that seems Major League action this year.
Ryan Weiss was claimed off waivers from the Diamondbacks last summer, but really struggled in the Royals organization with a 7.82 ERA in 35 2⁄3 innings for Omaha. The 26-year-old right-hander was originally a fourth-round pick in 2018, and features a fastball that sits at 93-95 mph.
Nick Wittgren is a seven-year MLB veteran with the Marlins, Guardians, and Cardinals who signed a minor league deal with the Royals this off-season. Wittgren had a 2.97 ERA in 115 innings from 2018 to 2020, but has struggled the last two years, although his FIP last season was just 3.84 compared to a 5.90 ERA. The 31-year-old right-handed reliever throws in the low-90s with a sinker, a cutter, a slider, and a change up.
Matt Beaty has been a valuable bench bat for the Dodgers the last few years, although he spent last year with the Padres. Injuries limited him to just 20 games in San Diego, but overall he has hit .249/.320/.405 with 18 home runs in 603 plate appearances at the big league level. A left-handed power bat, the 29-year-old fits best at first base, but he is capable of playing corner outfield and third base.
Johan Camargo has been a valuable bench player for the Braves and Phillies the last six years. He is a versatile switch-hitter capable of playing everywhere on the field, and has hit .255/.313/.410 in 416 MLB games. His primary position has been third base, so the 29-year-old could compete with Hunter Dozier for playing time at the hot corner.
Matt Duffy is a seven-year MLB veteran with the Giants, Rays, Cubs, and Angels who faced the Royals in the 2014 World Series and finished second in Rookie of the Year voting in 2015. He has been a high contact hitter who is capable of playing all around the infield and has hit .279/.337/.373 in 626 games. Last year he hit .250/.308/.311 with two home runs in 77 games with the Angels, and the right-handed hitter could challenge for a bench role with the Royals at age 32.
Clay Dungan is a versatile utility player who can play infield or outfield, who was originally a ninth-round pick in 2019 out of Indiana State. The left-handed bat enjoyed a solid 2021 season with good speed and occasional power, but regressed last year in Omaha with a line of .208/.294/.334 and nine home runs in 127 games.
Nick Loftin was the 32nd overall pick of the 2020 draft out of Baylor and provides a nice blend of power and speed with positional versatility all over the diamond. Last year, the right-handed hitter batted .254/.333/.403 17 home runs and 29 steals across Double-A and Triple-A. Keith Law of The Athletic had Loftin just outside his top 100 prospect list, writing he is a “super-utility guy who gets 500 at-bats or even their starter at second base.”
Tyler Tolbert is perhaps the best base-stealer in the minors, going 60-for-60 in swipes last year. The former Alabama-Birmingham grad does not provide any power, and hit just .224/.313/.340 in A ball last year, but the 25-year-old could be a useful pinch-runner capable of playing middle infield or outfield.
Dairon Blanco saw his first taste of big league action last year, getting into five games with the Royals. The Cuban defector has great speed, swiping 45 bases while hitting .301/.367/.486 with 14 home runs in 107 games for Omaha. The right-handed hitter will turn 30 in April, but he could be a late bloomer who provides good speed and defense.
Tyler Gentry had one of the best minor league seasons by any hitter in the Royals organization last year. The former third-round pick out of Alabama hit .326/.422/.542 with 21 home runs and 60 walks in 108 games across High-A and Double-A last year. The 24-year-old could rise quickly and see action in the big leagues if he continues to hit like that.
Brewer Hicklen also got a taste of the Majors last year, getting into four games. The former college football player is an athlete who has good power and speed, hitting .248/.348/.502 with 28 home runs and 35 steals for Omaha last year, and could be a useful bench player for the Royals at age 27.
John Rave is a left-handed bat selected in the fifth round in 2019 out of Illinois State. He does a bit of everything well, batting .256/.353/.412 with 16 home runs and 23 steals across Double-A and Triple-A last year. Rave just turned 25 and participated in the Arizona Fall League last year.
Franmil Reyes has twice enjoyed a 30+ home run season in the big leagues as a feared slugger with Cleveland. His numbers dropped last year to .221/.273/.365 with 14 HR in 118 games and he finished the season with the Cubs after being placed on waivers. The 27-year-old is looking to bounce back as a right-handed bat that will mostly DH.
José Briceño has played in 48 big league games with the Angels, but has spent the last two years in the minors. The Royals signed him last year and he hit .252/.298/.405 in 41 games with Omaha. The 30-year-old is a nice veteran to have in Triple-A and could be a possibility for the third catcher spot.
Tyler Cropley, like many non-roster catchers, is in camp to give the pitchers more reps. The 27-year-old former Iowa Hawkeyes has not hit much in the minors, and was let go by the Nationals before the Royals picked him up in 2021.
Logan Porter has done nothing but hit in the minors, batting .301/.442/.476 with 13 home runs and 87 walks between Double-A and Triple-A last year. The 27-year-old has one of the more patient eyes in the organization, and has begun playing catcher more the last two seasons after starting as a first baseman.
Jakson Reetz was signed by the Royals last summer after the Brewers designated him for assignment. The Nebraska native got into two big league games in 2021 with the Nationals, but has bounced around a bit since then despite showing good power in the minors. He smacked 30 home runs last year between Double-A and Triple-A, hitting .264/.359/.575 overall, but doesn’t walk much.
Luca Tresh was considered a top 100 player in the 2021 draft, but fell due to signability concerns with the Royals scooping him in the 17th round. Last year he hit .269/.360/.468 wtih1 9 home runs in 104 games across High-A and Double-A. A right-handed bat, the 23-year old Tresh is the cousin of former Yankees All-Star Tom Tresh.