The 2022 minor league season is here! The Royals’ farm system was ranked #8 in Major League Baseball by MLB Pipeline at the end of March. Having the #1 overall prospect in Bobby Witt, Jr. helps. Still, some of this can be attributed to the development of their prospect bats with the likes of Nick Pratto, Vinnie Pasquantino, and MJ Melendez taking off. Along with others who showed some real potential like Nick Loftin, Michael Massey, Tucker Bradley, and others. This development of their hitters and their already stacked pitching prospects helped the Royals farm system take it to the next level.
On Monday, the Kansas City Royals announced their minor league rosters to start the season. There is a lot to be excited about at each level. Whether it is the massively stacked lineup in Omaha or the rotation that will be looking to dominate hitters in Northwest Arkansas. No matter what level you look at, some prospects get you excited for the future of the Kansas City Royals. In the following four articles, I’ll break down each team’s rosters and some players we should watch at each level. We are diving into the Quad Cities River Bandits, who kicked off their season last week.
You can check out the other affiliates I’ve already covered here:
My oh my. The catchers that are in Quad Cities this year. The River Bandits carry a ton of pop behind the plate with Kale Emshoff, Saul Garza, and Luca Tresh. Emshoff has shown the ability to drive the ball for power to all parts of the field. He even hit his first home run on opening day to the opposite field. His power is loud, and it is his calling card. He was one of the prized free-agent signings of the 2020 draft, along with fellow Quad Cities catcher Saul Garza. He’ll be looking to cut his K rate this year to improve his hit tool and capitalize on the raw power he can generate.
Another power-hitting catcher, Garza, was signed out of Louisiana State University. Garza struggled a bit with the strikeout with the Columbia Fireflies last year but was still able to crank 14 doubles and three home runs with a .813 OPS. Alex stated in the Royals Farm rankings that Garza played more games at first base last year, and there is some wonder if he will hit enough for that position. He could see a lot of time at first base again this year with having to split time with both Emshoff and Tresh.
Luca Tresh was taken in the 17th round of last year’s draft and signed for $423,000, well over slot value. The Royals saw something they liked as they also assigned him to the Arizona Fall League in his first year of professional baseball. He was limited to just seven games in the AFL. Like Emshoff, the raw power is Tresh’s calling card. He struggled a bit with the Columbia Fireflies, but he also had inconsistent playing time. He should slot somewhere in the middle of the River Bandits lineup.
The Infield and Outfield
Peyton Wilson highlights the list of infielders for the River Bandits. In last year’s draft, the Royals took Wilson out of the University of Alabama in 66th overall. He only got to play in 21 games in his first professional season, splitting time between the Arizona Complex League and Columbia Fireflies. He struggled a bit to get going, but the talent is there. He makes a lot of hard contact and has athleticism that is fun to watch. His athleticism allows him to play all over the field. Speed is his best tool, and we should see it utilized quite a bit in Quad Cities.
The outfield should also be fun for the River Bandits, as Tyler Gentry and Parker Bates are the highlights. Gentry was a third-round pick in the shortened 2020 draft. Last year, he played his first professional season with the River Bandits but only played in 44 games as he dealt with an injury. At 6’2, 210lbs, Gentry is well-built and strong. He can generate some good pop due to his size. He was a bit aggressive at the plate last year but definitely can hit for power and a decent average.
The Royals took Parker Bates in the 9th round of last year’s draft out of Louisiana Tech. He raked at Louisiana Tech his senior year, and he will look to carry that over in his first full season. He has a unique ability to play the outfield well due to his athleticism and shows a good approach at the plate. He played in 21 games last year between the Arizona Complex League and Columbia Fireflies.
Noah Murdock and Christian Chamberlain are attractive arms to watch in 2022. Murdock is returning from an injury and has been limited in innings since his pro debut due to health. 2022 will be a chance for Murdock to show off the elite stuff we all know he has and hopefully stays on the field. Murdock will be looking to improve his offspeed pitches to go with his plus-fastball. “As I climb the minor league ladder, fastballs no longer get guys out,” Murdock said in an earlier article from this spring. “Being able to throw my curveball a lot more and mix in my change up in any count will be the reason I’m successful this year so I’m really looking forward to going out and executing my offspeed.”
Chamberlain is another who has also dealt with a myriad of injuries. He has shown incredible velocity in his fastball, sitting in the mid-90s with a downright disgusting curveball to go with it. His command tends to lack, which will be something of focus in 2022 if he wants to take the next steps in his development. If he can stay on the field and take those next steps with his command, he could quickly move up the system.
Photo Credits: Josh Franzen (@PrtTimeFranimal)
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