clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Royals Rumblings - News for March 24, 2023

Asian Baseball Preview, Part I: CPBL

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Rakuten Monkeys v CTBC Brothers - CPBL Opening Game
Cardboard fans and robot drummers. 2020 was wild, guys. I don’t think we fully appreciate just how wild it was.
Photo by Gene Wang/Getty Images

Daniel Lynch exited yesterday’s game with an injury:

Lynch was pitching his third inning during Thursday’s game at Peoria Stadium when he felt discomfort in his left shoulder. By the time the next pitch landed in catcher Salvador Perez’s glove, Lynch was waving manager Matt Quatraro and a Royals trainer out to the mound. He pointed at his left shoulder, talked with the group for a minute and left the game. It didn’t look good, but Lynch will get tests done to determine where the discomfort is stemming from and what the next steps are.

In the game, Brady Singer threw 3 innings:

“Obviously [you] have to be careful with that,” Singer said. “Didn’t throw as much as I wanted to [at the WBC], but it was preparing in between games, throwing sides, understanding what I need to do to stay built up as much as I could. Being able to go out and do that and feel that good is right where I wanted to be.”

And he talked about his time at the WBC:

“It was an experience I’ll never forget,” Singer said. “It was unbelievable. The fans there, and playing for your country was so much different. To see all the other countries and the pride they bring as well, it was just incredible. Playing in front of those crowds. Being around that many people, that many fans, that environment, and not the pressure, but how it felt to be pitching for your country.

At The Star, Blair Kerkhoff compiles a list of Royals games on Fox broadcasts:

The Royals play at the Miami Marlins on June 5 for a game on FS1 and FOX Deportes. After that, the Royals will meet the Los Angeles Angels on June 17 (FS1), the L.A. Dodgers on July 1 (FOX, FOX Deportes), the St. Louis Cardinals on Aug. 12 (FOX) and the Pittsburgh Pirates on Aug. 28 (FS1).

Meanwhile, Pete Grathoff (correctly) scoffed at MLB’s new memo about bat boys and bat girls (yes, you read that correctly):

This is from the memo, via the Athletic: “If a bat boy/girl requires additional time to exit the playing field safely, the umpire will not assess a penalty of the Pace of Game Procedures, provided that the umpire does not find that a Club is attempting to circumvent the Pace of Game Procedures. If a bat boy/girl requires additional time, the umpire will waive off the Pitch Timer and reset the clock when play is ready to resume. To minimize situations that require a waive-off, bat boys/girls leaving the third base dugout to collect equipment from a hitter who has reached first base are encouraged to return to the first base dugout rather than attempting to cross the playing field.”

At Kauffman Stadium, a bat boy or girl would enter the Royals dugout, then exit toward the concourse and hustle back to the opponent’s dugout. That’s going to mean a lot more running for a bat boy or girl. And MLB will be watching.

Fox 4 also has a pair of stories about the Royals.

First off, the Royals have an Opening Day tailgate for charity.

Secondly, the City of Fountains Foundation will dye one fountain blue each month for the Royals.

Want another outlet that doesn’t usually give us Royals news? Mary King at the Kansas City Business Journal writes about a partnership between the team and B&B Theaters. They will be the official popcorn provider for the team. But there’s more:

It’s not just about the popcorn: B&B will work with its friend organization, Variety: The Children’s Charity, on a special event that will benefit those in Kansas City in need of mobility assistance.

In addition, B&B Theatres will install some of its plush, reclining seats inside Kauffman Stadium as part of an exclusive seating block, “The Best Seats in the House.” Fans can earn the opportunity to be upgraded to the seats either through their tickets to the game or the B&B Theatres Backstage Pass loyalty program.

Royals Blog Roundup:

We have enough news for a small MLB section today, even if I’m cheating and including a couple of Royals listicles.

Darragh McDonald at MLB Trade Rumors lists veterans who have opt-out deals in their contract, including a pair of Royals:

Royals: OF Jackie Bradley Jr. and IF Matt Duffy

Bradley, 33 next month, has long been an excellent defender with an okay bat, but his offense has been awful for the past two seasons. Last year, splitting his time between the Red Sox and Blue Jays, he hit .203/.255/.311 for a wRC+ of 56.

Duffy, 32, is a versatile utility player who can cover any infield position and has some limited corner outfield experience. He’s not coming off a great year at the plate, as he hit .250/.308/.311 with the Angels for a wRC+ of 78, but he’s had better results in the past. ranked all 30 farm systems. Had to scroll a long way to get to the local squad:

29. Kansas City Royals

2022 midseason rank: 21

2022 preseason rank: 8

2021 midseason rank: 5

2021 preseason rank: 10

Top 100 prospects: Gavin Cross, OF (No. 62)

“As it stands, that Major League readiness is a point in the system’s favor, but once so many lose prospect status, expect a steep drop.” That’s what we wrote in the 2022 midseason rankings, and the Royals have dropped eight spots as more graduations rolled in, with Maikel Garcia, Nick Loftin and Drew Waters not far behind. Top 2022 pick Cross should at least lead the group for a while as he enters his first full season, and 2021 prep selections Ben Kudrna, Frank Mozzicato and Carter Jensen could jump with more experience in their second extended campaigns.

They also ranked “9 tiers of contenders in 2023”. I kindof understand why we had to scroll a long way to get to the Royals there.

Tier 8: Glimpse the future now: Nationals, Pirates, Reds, Tigers, Royals

These teams almost certainly aren’t contenders in 2023, but there’s still value to gain out of this season. Each club listed here either already has seen the core of its next good roster begin to arrive or could see that process begin soon.

The Royals … are under new management. Longtime GM Dayton Moore is out, as is manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred. There’s hope that new voices can help reinvigorate a pitching staff that has been one of baseball’s weakest over the last half-decade, and there are a few arms working on new pitches this spring. It won’t likely be enough right away — they’re projected to have the fifth-weakest run prevention — but it’s a needed start to support a lineup that is suddenly interesting, given that young bats Vinnie Pasquantino, Bobby Witt Jr. and MJ Melendez all made their mark in 2022, alongside returning franchise legend Salvador Perez.

MLB.TV is running their annual free preview this weekend. And, just a little reminder: next week from Tuesday, March 28 through Monday, April 3, T-Mobile customers can sign up for a free MLB.TV subscription.

This is, unofficially, our third year writing about Asian baseball here at RR. And by “our”, I get that this is generally a “me” thing. But I’m going to keep writing about it because I want to keep researching it at the beginning of each season.

Of course, back in the first half of 2020, there was no baseball in the United States so we looked across the big pond at other leagues, specifically the CPBL (Taiwan), KBO (Korea), and NPB (Japan). Here are links to our articles from 2020: (CPBL Intro), (Pick KBO team), (May), (Early June), (Late June), (July), (October), and (November Season Wrapup).

In 2021, it was a bit more difficult to follow as English-based coverage dialed back after the pandemic. Still, we had a lot of updates: (2021 Asian Baseball Preview) (June CPBL Update) (June KBO Update) (July NPB Update) (Final July Update) (September KBO Update) (September CPBL Update) (October NPB Update) (CPBL Season Wrapup) (KBO Season Wrapup) (NPB Season Wrapup).

Last year, well, last year was last year. So this year, it’s time to make up for lost time.

Just a reminder about competition level, here what Baseball America said in 2020:

Overall, here is the hierarchy of how MLB front office officials and evaluators generally view the quality of the various Asian leagues compared to MLB and the minor leagues.


NPB (Japan)


KBO (Korea)


High A

CPBL (Taiwan)

Low A

Speaking of lost time, all three will have their Opening Day very soon. NPB starts on March 30th while the KBO and CPBL start on April 1st. So our previews might come a little after the season starts. This is definitely not so I can find better previews than mine online and quote and link to them.

Today, we’re going to start out with the CPBL. It will always have a special little place in my heart, helping me mentally get through some of the early days of the pandemic.

CPBL - Chinese Professional Baseball League

Country: Taiwan

Opening Day: April 1st

International Players: Not a lot of (any?) big name former players in the CPBL but this section will be more populated for the KBO and NPB; Full list from CPBLStats

Former Royals: Tim Melville (Wei Chuan Dragons, more on him below), Francisco Peña (CTBC Brothers), Keyvius Sampson (Uni-Lions, not a former Royal but former Kansas City Monarch in 2021)

World Baseball Classic Result: Taiwan, playing as Chinese Taipei (if you don’t remember, we’ve talked about how they’re basically forced to compete under this stupid, intentionally misleading “compromise” name because China will pressure the international community to exclude them from events if they go by “Taiwan”), was in Pool A, which was played in Taichung, Taiwan. This looks like a lot of fun to go visit (still on my bucket list):

Taiwan lost to Panama, beat Italy (above), and then upset the Netherlands. However, with advancement hanging in the balance, lost 7-1 to Cuba. If you remember, that was the pool where every team finished 2-2 and had to go to tiebreakers. Taiwan was on the wrong side of those tiebreakers and did not advance out of the group stage.

Last Season: Our Rakuten Monkeys (see below) stormed out to a 10-2 start en route to a 37-1-22 record and the 1st half crown. They would finish the second half at 33-3-24, good for 2nd place, and their combined record gave them a bye into the 2022 Taiwan Series. The CTBC Brothers won the second half crown and defeated the Wild Card Wei Chuan Dragons in the playoffs to provide the opposition. Unfortunately, for the red clad simians, the Brothers swept the Series 4-0 and won their 9th Taiwan Series championship.

Rooting Interest: Back when I fell in love with this league, I was all in on the Rakuten Monkeys. As I said back in 2021, “they had the first English broadcasts and were the inspiration for my first article”. Chu Yu Hsien, who was everywhere the first month of 2020, had a down year last year and father time might be catching up to him as he’s a 31 year-old power hitting first baseman. I’m hoping he’s still got a couple of good seasons left in the tank.

Random Nuggets:

  • Back in 2020, the league only had 4 teams. However, a 5th team (re)joined the league: the Wei Chuan Dragons returned after a two decade hiatus. They had been disbanded back in 1999, after winning their 4th CPBL championship, because of a buyout of their parent corporation, league-wide issues due to game-fixing scandals, and due to “threats from local criminal gangs”.
  • Next year, there will be 6 teams as the TSG (Taiwan Steel Group) Hawks join in the fun. They had their expansion draft last July, will play in the CPBL minor leagues for 2023, and join the CPBL major league in 2024. FYI: There were seven teams back in 1997, the most in league history. However, the league has been, um, unstable, to say the least and it’s not ideal when your Wikipedia page has a large list of (mostly gambling-related) subheaders under “Controversy”.
  • Tim Melville, former Royals farmhand, has one of the more interesting international player stories of the past few years. He helped the Uni-Lions win the 2020 Taiwan Series. He threw a 143-pitch no-hitter in 2021. He took 2022 off due to injury (hm... 143 pitches, you say). This offseason, he left the Uni-Lions and signed with the Wei Chuan Dragons.
  • Unfortunately, I believe the English broadcasts from 2020, some of which were watched over a million times, are long gone. If you want to sign up for games in their native language, here’s a handy guide. Sadly, it costs about $70 a year so I won’t be doing that.
  • Lest you think baseball promotions are any different than they are here, nope! Some things are universal. Sure, there’s Opening Night/Series promos. Kids night? Check! Nights for singles? Office workers? Pets? Yup! Classical and Jazz night? You bet! Now there might be some mis-translations on this list, but I’m pretty sure that’s a picture of Popeye on the Uni-Lions graphic for Popeye Baseball Day and I don’t think there’s anything you could typo for SpongeBob Night at the CTBC Brothers.


Today’s SotD is the hype video that was played before the Rakuten Monkey games on their broadcasts back in 2020: