The Kansas City Royals irritated a lot of fans this season by giving over 100 PA to both Lucas Duda and Chris Owings, and by continuing to employ outfielder Billy Hamilton and his *46* wRC+. Royals fans are absolutely correct for being upset about those three guys getting significant playing time, but give the Royals this, of the 25 players currently on the active roster, 21 of them were either drafted by Kansas City or acquired before making their big league debut. Only Ian Kennedy, Jorge Soler, Jorge Lopez, and Billy Hamilton don’t currently fit that bill.
Nick Dini will become the next man in line to be drafted by and make his big league debut for Kansas City in 2019. We’ve already seen Bubba Starling, Richard Lovelady, Kyle Zimmer, Humberto Arteaga, and Nicky Lopez, Frank Schwindel, and now Nick Dini will get his turn.
Nick Dini has made a ton of noise this season while playing for the Omaha Storm Chasers. Plenty of fans have asked us about Dini as a potential September call-up, but because of an injury to Cam Gallagher, we won’t even have to wait until September.
In asking about Nick Dini, you’ve probably seen us be a little bit skeptical of the 26-year old catcher as a long-term option for Kansas City (we left him off of our top 75 prospects list at mid-season). Meibrys Viloria and Cam Gallagher both have the inside track on Dini at the moment, and with Salvador Perez returning to action in 2020, Dini may not have a chance to be on the big league roster after this season.
Dini’s bat in Omaha has spoken for itself. The kid is only striking out in 13.6% of his PA and he’s impressively raised his BB% from 3.9% at AA last year to 9.9% at AAA in 2019. The defense is where I think Dini’s chances at sticking will be hurt the most. Opposing base stealers have successfully stolen 49 bases off of Dini at Omaha this season out of 61 chances (80.33% success rate) in 56 games behind the plate. The Royals are widely known for valuing defense, especially behind the dish, so it will be interesting to see how Dini is utilized while filling in for Cam Gallagher.
In any case, Dini has absolutely earned this call-up. He was drafted by Kansas City in the 14th round back in 2015 and has hit at every level along the way. Even if this does wind up to be a short-term stint in Kansas City, it’s awesome to watch home grown kids work their tails off to reach the big leagues.
Photo Credits: Ryan Soderlin – Omaha World-Herald