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Royals Rumblings - News for January 4, 2024

Apparently today is the 11th of the 12 days of Christmas.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Craig Brown at Into the Fountains projects the 2024 roster:

Yeah, Lyles is still in the rotation at the moment. Don’t forget, he started the second game of the year for the Royals last year, so you could say he opened the season as their number two starter. Real improvement would be pushing him out of the rotation altogether and into a mop-up role, but we’re not completely there just yet. And these are still the Royals and the budget does dictate things like playing time. Lyles will cash in $8.5 million in 2024, so he gets an opportunity to try his hand at starting again. The difference is, while the previous GM would insist Lyles was just about to turn the corner, the current one will roll with a much shorter leash. I don’t expect Lyles to be in the rotation in June. It’s conceivable he could pitch himself out of consideration in Surprise.

The current rotation is light on the Class of ’18 arms, but they’re still in the picture. Daniel Lynch IV is waiting in the wings should Lyles or Singer falter. I see his role as long relief/spot starter at the moment, so he’s in the next section. If he holds his own, he will be the first man in when the Royals need someone else in the rotation. Kris Bubic could be a factor later in the season depending on how well his rehab from Tommy John progresses.

Also, at the end of that piece, Craig discusses some things happening with Substack. I got really confused when the name Hamish McKenzie came up. I was thinking “what does a West Australian cricketer have to do with this?” Apparently, there are multiple notable people named Hamish McKenzie.

David Lesky at Inside the Crown has five “bold” predictions for the 2024 season:

One of the crazier stories from the 2023 season was Nelson Velazquez coming over in exchange for Jose Cuas and consistently putting the ball over the fence. He made Kauffman Stadium, a big park, look a whole lot like Wrigley Field on a day the wind is blowing out. He hit .286/.351/.726 at home for the Royals compared with .179/.247/.436 at all parks outside of Kansas City. First of all, that’s absurd. While Kauffman Stadium is an outstanding place to hit, if you can hit the ball out regularly there, you shouldn’t struggle at most other parks. That feels a bit like a fluke. The power is 100 percent real with him.

His batted ball data says it’s legit. The average exit velocity of 91 MPH ranked 71st among 403 players with at least 100 batted ball events. His hard-hit rate was 38th. His barrels per batted ball event was second. Yes, second, only behind Aaron Judge. His barrels/PA was also second behind Judge. He’s going to swing and miss, but he doesn’t chase a ridiculous amount and when he makes contact, there’s a pretty good chance he’s doing very real damage to the ball. That’s a recipe for success in a lineup that needs his power in the middle.

A real person named Josh Bookbinder at a real website called Low Three Quarter Media wrote an analysis of Vinnie Pasquantino:

In any event, the 2022 numbers were fascinating moving into 2023 because there were two schools of thought in terms of repeatability. On the one hand, Vinnie had put up nearly the same numbers throughout every level from college on: from C-USA to the MLB, the slash lines, home run rates, strikeout rates, and walk rates were all relatively stable. Could he just be one of those players who is the same guy, no matter his competition? On the other hand, the league adjusts, and expecting Pasquantino to just continue on an perennial all-star offensive track was wishful thinking. His appearance for Italy in the 2023 World Baseball Classic was mostly unremarkable, and then we got the 1/3-season that was his MLB 2023.

So what did it all tell us? Which school of thought was more correct? There are four main takeaways that I see from Vinnie’s 2023 season. I’ll discuss them below, and what they mean moving into 2024.

It’s been a couple weeks since the last Royals winter-ball roundup! Let’s start in LIDOM, which has begun their semifinal round-robin stage:

  • Dairon Blanco accumulated 117 regular season plate appearances for Estrellas and hit .286/.339/.352 while also going 19-21 on stolen base attempts. He has played in all five semifinal games so far and gone 9-21 with a double, a triple, and two homers. Funny enough, while the power has showed up, he’s been gunned down on both of his stolen base attempts.

Moving over to the Venezuelan Winter League (LVBP), which has also moved into the semifinal stage:

  • Max Castillo finished the regular season with a 2.72 ERA in 49.2 innings. Best of luck to him in Boston.
  • Maikel García was almost impossible to retire in the regular season, hitting .424/.543/.576 in 129 plate appearances. He walked 28 times while striking out just nine. He went 0-5 in Tiburones’ first semifinal game.
  • Freddy Fermin garnered 60 plate appearances for Leones and slashed .255/.367/.392. He went 0-3 with a walk in their first semifinal game.

Going across the Caribbean to the Puerto Rican Winter League (LBPRC), which — believe it or not — has begun postseason play:

  • Nelson Velázquez finished the regular season hitting .281/.337/.451 in 89 plate appearances. He went 0-5 in Criollos’ first postseason game.

Finally, to the Australian Baseball League (ABL):

  • Jack Pineda started eight games since the last roundup, all at shortstop. He went 6-28 with three doubles and four walks. In 95 plate appearances, he has hit .226/.309/.321.
  • Milo Rushford saw action at all three outfield spots and went 3-15 with two homers and seven walks. In 105 plate appearances, he has hit .188/.343/.282.
  • Hyungchan Um made seven starts behind the plate and went 7-31. He is hitting .214/.239/.310 in 88 plate appearances.

The owners of the old KC Star building are pushing hard for their stadium site.

The Chicago Cubs have had a surprisingly quiet offseason.

South Korean relief pitcher Woo Suk Go is signing a two-year deal with San Diego.

Kansas City Current signed 2023’s worldwide leading goal-scorer in Temwa Chawinga.

Grambling State set a D1 Women’s Basketball record with a 141-point victory.

PGA Tour player Mackenzie Hughes feels for fans that have been seemingly disregarded in the ongoing PGA-LIV spat. I’ve long been a fan of golf but with the talent now so fragmented, I’ll probably only watch majors going forward.

It has been two and a half years since Conor McGregor last fought, but he has nonetheless garnered plenty of headlines in the interim.

An English teenager is dominating the World Darts Championship.

A 13-year-old became the first person to beat the original Tetris game.

Advances in AI and satellite imagery have allowed researchers to create the most detailed picture yet of human activity in the ocean.

Your song of the day is Beside Myself by Lights.