Welcome back for our second and final edition of “Notes from Royals Spring Training” live from Arizona. I am headed back to Kansas City because I have a job, unfortunately. However, since I was able to attend the Royals game against the A’s in Mesa this afternoon, I’ll share my thoughts with you on how some of the guys looked in action.
*Before we get started, let’s make something very clear. IT IS FEBRUARY 24TH. By no means am I making any kind of conclusions about the Royals season. I am simply sharing some of my thoughts with you about how the Royals looked today. At times I will share opinions that I had before Spring Training ever began, like the fact that I think Cheslor Cuthbert needs to go, but I’m not making that conclusion based on today. I’ve thought that for a very long time. So please save your, “It’s been one day!,” comments, I’m aware.*
1.) Sam McWilliams is legit
In the event that you haven’t seen any of the video from McWilliams’ outing on Sunday, you can find his video along with every other pitcher that threw for KC here.
McWilliams looked really good on Sunday. His fastball has some daunting tilt to it, he was throwing some variation of a cutter/slider that was filthy, and hitters looked really uncomfortable all day. I likened McWilliams to Brad Keller on Twitter, and I wanted to expand on that a little bit. McWilliams the pitcher is not much like Brad Keller. McWilliams situation is very similar to Keller’s.
McWilliams’ fastball, in my opinion, is big league ready. Much like Brad Keller in 2018, the fastball was there, but his slider took some time to come along during the season. While McWilliams’ slider/cutter thing looked great on Sunday, he couldn’t seemingly throw both his breaker and fastball in the zone, consistently, at the same time. His timing seemed off at times, his arm would be late, and he lost the strike zone as a result. However, if I’m a Royals fan trying to take something from the outing, I’d take the stuff as a huge plus and acknowledge that it’s February 24th. This kid looks special.
2.) Terrance Gore is going to be on the Opening Day roster
Have I mentioned this before? Gore added a double and a walk to his ledger today, and looked great in the outfield as always.
3.) Meibrys Viloria is impressive
The home run was obviously an impressive feat, but what was perhaps even more impressive was how Viloria handled the pitching staff behind home plate. I know we talked about it last summer when Viloria made his big league debut, but Viloria’s defense is probably just as good as the average big league backup. The biggest knock on Viloria’s offense has been his way-too-high ground ball rate, but Viloria seemed to have some loft to his swing today and hit both baseballs hard in the air. I would love to see his offensive game take the next step in 2019.
4.) The Omaha Storm Chasers are going to have a good squad
Elier Hernandez, Frank Schwindel, Samir Duenez, Nicky Lopez, Humberto Arteaga, Kelvin Gutierrez (?), Bubba Starling, Richard Lovelady, among plenty of others, highlight what ought to be a really good squad in AAA this year. I haven’t been super excited at the big league prospect of the team, but if 2-3 of those guys can make strides offensively, we may have a little something brewing on I-29 this year.
5.) Frank Schwindel’s offensive issues were epitomized in the 7th inning
Plenty of folks ask us seemingly every day why Frank Schwindel is never given a shot with the big league club. The answer to that question was answered in perfection today. To begin the 7th inning, Norge Ruiz walked Kelvin Gutierrez on 4 pitches. None were particularly close. Frank Schwindel then came to the plate hacking away and grounded into a double play. Ruiz then proceeded to walk Elier Hernandez on 5 pitches, 2 of which hit the dirt. 8 of the 9 pitches Ruiz threw Gutierrez and Hernandez missed, most badly, but Schwindel wasn’t patient enough to see him out. After starting the AB 1-0, Schwindel chased a fastball low for the GIDP. That’s the part of his game that’s going to have to change if he’s gonna see KC.
6.) MJ Melendez looks the part
After being robbed of a double due to a lack of umpires in his first AB of the spring, Melendez kept his composure and worked a walk. After taking a fastball for a strike in his 2nd AB, only to go down swinging at a really good changeup, Melendez hunted down a fastball early in his 3rd AB and hit the ball hard into RF (I accidentally said F7 on Twitter). He made constant adjustments at the plate, which is something the good hitters do. Oh, then there was this: