It is hard to believe that we are winding down the end of the 2021 season already. It feels like just yesterday the season began and we were all getting excited for a full season. We are in full swing of the minor league playoffs and the Quad City River Bandits played a winner-take-all game yesterday for the High-A Central Championship. The River Bandits beat the Cedar Rapid Kernels in Game 5 to take home yet another championship for the Kansas City Royals minor league affiliates. What better way to celebrate that than by highlighting one of the stars of the team for Part 3 of my under-the-radar Royals Prospects.
The Massey Hype Train
Michael Massey absolutely tore up High-A Central this year. The second baseman slashed .289/.351/.531 with a .882 OPS. He coupled that with 21 home runs, 87 RBI, and 12 stolen bases. According to FanGraphs, Massey was 3rd in home runs, 2nd in batting average (only behind Nick Loftin), 2nd in RBI, 2nd in OPS, 2nd in SLG, AND 3rd in wRC+. Massey only trailed Los Angeles Dodgers outfield prospect Andy Pages in many of these categories. Pages was easily my High-A Central MVP and has become a top 100 prospect for many of those evaluating prospects.
When you look at the kind of company Massey was in, you really start to see the kind of potential and future he has as a big leaguer. The 23 year old came out of nowhere and just turned heads all year long. He has extremely strong contact skills and the increase in power production is nothing to just ignore. Watching some of his plate appearances this year, I just loved his approach and patience to find his pitch. He has a well above-average feel for the strike zone and can pepper the ball all over the field. If he can sustain this type of production at the upper levels, he will definitely start to solidify himself as a top prospect and burst right through his ceiling of a potential utility player.
He flashed solid tools across the board not just on the offensive side, but defensive as well. Flashing good defense is nothing new to Massey as he was an American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings Gold Glove winner at second base as a sophomore for the University of Illinois in 2018. He committed only three errors in 81 games at second base.
Room for Improvement
The one area you’d like to see Massey improve is his walk rate. He sported a 7.5% walk rate in High-A. There isn’t too much to worry about here since he carries a 15.5% strikeout rate and an above-average on-base percentage, but as he makes his way up to higher levels, the low walk rate could come back to hurt him. The hit tool is easily good enough to help him offset his low walk rate and based on what we have seen so far, I don’t see it playing too much a factor in the future.
Massey is going to be a fun one to watch develop and he is just another bat to come out of nowhere this year for the Royals. His plus tools offensively and defensively makes you believe that he can stick as an everyday second baseman in the big leagues. 2022 will be a pivotal year for Massey as he will be 24 and facing the challenges of increased competition at the upper levels. If he continues to exceed expectations, we could see Massey in the show sooner rather than later.
Photo Credits: Josh Franzen (@banditsphotog)