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Royals Rumblings - News for January 8, 2024

What would keep Bobby Witt Jr. from ending up in Cooperstown?

Kansas City Royals v Chicago White Sox - Game Two Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Preston Farr at Farm to Fountains profiles Royals pitching prospect Luinder Avila.

To start 2023, Avila was regularly hanging around the 92-93mph range with his four-seamer. In May and June, his focus on improving the heater was evident. He deliberately targeted the upper half of the strikezone more than we’ve seen prior. By the end of the year, it wasn’t uncommon to see Avila touching 96 mph in his starts. That development of the fastball — including his command up in the zone — should only make his secondary offerings that much more effective. It raises his ceiling some, even if there remains notable reliever risk.

Kevin O’Brien at Royals Reporter thinks Kyle Isbel is ready for a breakout season.

He has gotten better with his plate discipline since debuting in 2021 when his K rate was 27.7% as a 24-year-old. He also sports underrated batted ball metrics, though it will be intriguing to see if his barrel numbers can improve in 2024, which can give him more value to the bottom of the Royals lineup.

Regardless of his bat, Isbel’s defense should continue to carry him as a regular in centerfield in Kansas City in 2024.

Kiermaier, Taylor, and Bader have all won Gold Glove awards in their career. Isbel has not, but if he can continue to transition his defensive work from 2023 into 2024 and beyond, then the award could be in his future sooner than expected.

Michael Baumann at Fangraphs considers what if Bobby Witt Jr. is on a Hall of Fame track.

Since the start of the live ball era, there have only been 223 seasons in which an AL or NL shortstop, age 23 or younger, has even played enough to qualify for the batting title. Only 39 of those seasons involved the shortstop in question posting 4.5 WAR or more; only 42 times did the shortstop have a wRC+ of 115 or better. Witt and Henderson accounted for two of the 33 seasons in which the player did both.

Former Royals first baseman Chuck Harrison, part of the inaugural team, died last week at the age of 82.

Mike Gillespie at Kings of Kauffman thinks the Royals should steer clear of a Whit Merrifield reunion.

The White Sox hire former Royals assistant GM Jin Wong.

The Mets sign Sean Manaea to a two-year, $28 million deal.

The Dodgers sign Teoscar Hernandez to a one-year, $23.5 million deal.

The Angels sign Zach Plesac to a one-year, $1 million deal.

The Rays trade reliever Andrew Kittredge to the Cardinals.

The Braves’ unconventional off-season strategy is done with an eye towards October.

How Shohei Ohtani’s deferred compensation contract could impact baseball.

Some interesting trade proposals for Dylan Cease.

The story of when Ken Griffey Jr. and Kenny Lofton tried to throw down at a Foot Locker Slam Fest.

Shin-Soo Choo says the Korean baseball league still has a long way to go.

Michigan and Washington will play for the college football championship tonight.

Of the top 100 most-watched shows in 2023, 93 were NFL games.

Americans are canceling more of their streaming services.

Remember Halley’s comet? It’s on its way back, to return in 2061.

What is on tap for Star Wars fans in 2024?

Your song of the day is Mazzy Star with Fade Into You.