The Royals have finally given into our demands. Or something along the lines of that. But for whatever the reason, I will not argue. Gone are Owings, Duda, Boxberger, Peralta, Bailey, Maldanado, Flynn, Gore, Deikman, and Lively. In are Starling, Zimmer, Viloria, Lovelady, Staumont, Lopez, O’Hearn, and Hill. Soon to be up or back up are Phillips, Gutierrez, Skoglund, Newberry, Fillmyer, and Bonifacio.
The Royals are finally giving us what we want. A younger 25-man roster highlighted not with washed up veteran reclamation projects that may or may not work out, but our own homegrown and developed players. Guys we’ve watched come through the minor league system. Guys we cheered for since their draft day. Guys who should be getting the at bats and innings and learning how to adjust at the highest level anyway. Finally they are getting that chance.
My number one New Year’s Resolution for the Royals the last two years was to let the young guys play. I didn’t want veteran reclamation projects taking away time from the youngsters but the Royals modus operandi has been to bring in veteran players who have been established in the majors at one point or another in order to give the team an MLB feel to it. We’ve heard leadership constantly say over the years they want to win big league games even if they are down so they try to bring in big league caliber players. Our argument as fans has been we know we aren’t competing for a title this year so don’t waste that time and use our own guys who can be developed.
Over the weekend the Royals made some pretty bold moves. They sent Deikman to the A’s for two minor league guys. They actually DFA’d Lucas Duda and Brian Flynn and brought up Ryan O’Hearn and Kyle Zimmer. Last week they brought up Josh Staumont and let Wily Peralta go. They brought back Mike Montgomery, a former first rounder of the club.
Currently, 19 of the 25 players on the active roster were drafted by the Royals. These moves signal a shift in the club for this season. The Royals are in rebuilding mode and they are finally allowing the young guys to play.
There are still some moves that need to and will be made. Billy Hamilton will be sent somewhere allowing Brett Phillips or Jorge Bonifacio to come up. Ian Kennedy could be dealt bringing back some pieces that may end up on the 40-man roster or may allow Jake Newberry to come back up or even one of the new guys to join the team in KC.
There are still some questions as to what the club is ultimately going to do being asked. The Royals are playing Hunter Dozier in right field seemingly blocking Phillips or Bonifacio. Cheslor Cuthbert is getting time at third base when Kelvin Gutierrez could probably do just as good of a job at the hot corner. Ultimately, the Royals want to get Cuthbert’s bat in the lineup because he is currently hitting .290/.323/.432. But getting Cuthbert, Dozier, and Soler’s bat into the lineup seems to be a little bit of a challenge because they seemingly are committed to giving O’Hearn at bats and innings at first base. The Royals decided the best way to do it, albeit maybe not what we would have done, is to not bring up Phillips or play the defensively weak Soler in the outfield.
When Mondesi returns from the injured list, this will probably all go back to normal. Until then, they plan to use Whit at second and rotate Nicky Lopez and Humberto Arteaga at short as needed.
The Royals are being creative to get the guys they think need to be on the field playing time and are selling out for the future. They are allowing young guys to learn, fail, and adjust at the major league level. They have committed and even though they likely won’t trade Merrifield or Duffy, I like it. I really like it. I like these home grown Royals as well. And don’t forget, there are more waiting for their chance to play.
Photo of Ryan O’Hearn from Beyond the Boxscore and taken by Ron Schwane.