We are now a week into Spring Training. Several players are about to take a break for the World Baseball Classic, but we’re American so we don’t care about that. Let’s talk about which players are likely to make up the Royals Opening Day roster, instead!
C Salvador Perez
C Freddy Fermin
C/OF MJ Melendez
1B Vinnie Pasquantino
2B Michael Massey
SS Bobby Witt Jr.
IF Nicky Lopez
OF Kyle Isbel
OF Franmil Reyes
OF Edward Olivares
IF/OF Maikel Garcia
IF/OF Hunter Dozier
IF/OF Nate Eaton
The biggest surprises here might be Reyes, Garcia, and Fermin - all for different reasons. Fermin doesn’t necessarily profile as a big-league catcher, but the Royals need a backup if they’re going to let Melendez spend a lot of time in the outfield and he’s the only one on the 40-man roster. Franmil Reyes has been hitting the cover off of the ball for the first week and has a history of being a very good hitter. The Royals hitting coaches were getting tons of praise last season and it’s reasonable for the team to think they might have helped him solve his problems and return to being a good hitter.
Maikel Garcia is the most interesting case, to me. Some scouts talk about him very highly and his numbers from the minors last season are quite promising. He hit well, has good speed, and has a reputation as an excellent defender. He struggled a bit defensively during his major league debut, last season, but it was a very small sample size and it was in New York. Nerves might just have gotten the best of him.
He’s traditionally been a shortstop, but the Royals are trying him out in the outfield and at third base. They’re convinced Witt is the guy at short, but it seems they’re equally convinced Garcia needs a role, too. They’ve got three more weeks to keep throwing him at the wall and see where he sticks (please don’t actually throw him.)
It’s harder to distinguish between pitchers this early on because their sample sizes are so much smaller. So a lot of these guys are simply veterans who can’t or shouldn’t be demoted to the minor leagues. Singer, obviously, has earned his spot. Others will have a chance to prove they belong or to steal a spot from one of the guys I’ve listed. Brooks Kriske is probably the weird one here to a lot of you, but he’s already getting positive press on the Royals’ website which is often a positive sign for a guy’s roster outlook.
You’ll note I didn’t assign roster positions to anyone, that’s because outside of Greinke and Singer I’m not at all confident who in that group might be starting and who might be relieving. I’m just excited because however that all breaks down, I expect the pitching to be significantly improved from last season thanks to much higher quality coaching.
I almost accidentally left Aroldis Chapman off of this list, but that was probably just wishful thinking.
What do you think? Did I get it right? Who did I forget? Also, who do you wish was going to make the roster even if you don’t think they will?