Projecting the 2023 Kansas City Royals: Part 4

Since we started Royals Farm Report in 2017, I’ve been writing these articles periodically with the idea being that 2023 would be the first year the Royals should be seriously contending for a playoff spot. Last June I wrote that, in my mind, the Royals HAD to make the playoffs in 2023 to prove that this rebuild is working. I have maintained that take for years and I think this 2022 season is a pretty good indication that something has gone awry. The offense is becoming a force. The Royals have had a top-10 offense in baseball over the past month and they have more dudes in the pipeline that aren’t far away. The pitching staff has just been abysmal after getting off to a historically bad start and appears to be the biggest obstacle in the way of the Royals contending any time soon.

Anyway. Here’s a fun look back at how some of these roster projections have fared throughout the years:


  1. CF – Michael Gigliotti
  2. SS – Raul Mondesi
  3. 1B – Nick Pratto
  4. LF – Seuly Matias
  5. DH – Eric Hosmer
  6. 3B – Hunter Dozier
  7. RF – Khalil Lee
  8. 2B – Gabriel Cancel
  9. C – MJ Melendez

Remember Michael Gigliotti? Those were dark times, Harry, dark times indeed. The rest of this is actually…not awful? Bobby Witt Jr. hadn’t been drafted yet, Khalil Lee hadn’t been traded yet, and Whit Merrifield hadn’t signed his extension through 2023 yet. I figured the Royals would do everything in their power to keep Eric Hosmer around, but that clearly wound up being a blessing in disguise.

Let’s take a look at 2019:

  1. Nicky Lopez, 2B
  2. Kyle Isbel, LF
  3. Adalberto Mondesi, SS
  4. Kelvin Gutierrez, 1B
  5. Khalil Lee, RF
  6. Seuly Matias, DH
  7. MJ Melendez, C
  8. Gabriel Cancel, 3B
  9. Michael Gigliotti, CF

That was a no good very bad year in the Royals farm system. Thankfully they got Drew Saylor in here and got everything turned around, but I remember looking at this farm system *before* the draft in 2019 and thinking, “Oh my.”


  1. LF Kyle Isbel
  2. 3B Bobby Witt Jr.
  3. SS Adalberto Mondesi
  4. C Salvador Perez
  5. 1B Nick Pratto
  6. DH Hunter Dozier
  7. RF Edward Olivares
  8. CF Brewer Hicklen
  9. 2B Nick Loftin

I didn’t think there was a chance in hell that Michael A. Taylor would be back this season. Much less in 2023. In the Royals defense, I do not have a good answer for you in terms of who would be roaming around center field every day if it weren’t for Taylor. He’s been exponentially better than I ever would have imagined at the plate this year and, as much as I didn’t care for the signing at the time, it’s worked out better than I could have ever expected and he may even have some legitimate trade value at the moment. Kudos to the Royals front office on that end.

I’ll stand by my Nick Loftin pick at second base. I’m a big Michael Massey guy but even I didn’t see this outburst coming from him. Hell, he had an OPS of just .854 at AA a few weeks ago with a 114 wRC+. That’s great, but it’s not even close to as impressive as he’s been since being promoted to AAA Omaha. Loftin, meanwhile, has a 114 wRC+ at AA since April 20th to go with 10 HR and 15 SB on the season. He’s a more versatile defender, has the better hit tool and approach, and he’s a better runner on the base paths. Massey certainly has more power, both raw and in game, but I’d still take Loftin over Massey if you made me pick one. Having them both in your system is certainly an overwhelming positive.

Quick reminder, I only make these projections with players that are currently in the system, so no Jordan Groshans at third base in this one. Without further ado, here’s my guess at what the starting lineup will look like for Kansas City on Opening Day in 2023:

  1. Nick Loftin, 3B
  2. Nick Pratto, LF
  3. Bobby Witt Jr., SS
  4. Vinnie Pasquantino, DH
  5. Salvador Perez, C
  6. MJ Melendez, RF
  7. Hunter Dozier, 1B
  8. Michael A. Taylor, CF
  9. Michael Massey, 2B

– Cam Gallagher, Edward Olivares, Nicky Lopez, Kyle Isbel

Starting Rotation:
– Brady Singer
– Brad Keller
– Daniel Lynch
– Jon Heasley
– Carlos Hernandez

I’m not going to waste time this year on the bullpen. I have no idea how motivated the front office is to move guys like Scott Barlow and Josh Staumont. I know Staumont is on the IL, but they should absolutely be looking for offers on both relievers. The quickest way to speed this rebuild up would be to package them with Benintendi and/or Merrifield and get a young lottery ticket for the rotation or someone that could fill in in center field long-term.

I think it’s really interesting that the Royals have both Nick Loftin and Michael Massey playing second base right now…Massey is a reigning Gold Glover at the position and is probably going to be there long-term, but Loftin has a ton of versatility and hasn’t played third base yet at all this season. I thought he was excellent over there in 2021 and the Royals do not have an apparent third baseman of the future at the moment. Maybe they really are working on a Jordan Groshans type of deal? I don’t know…but I’d certainly be giving Loftin a shot to earn that position going into next season. I know it’s a longshot, and this is probably as hot takey as I get, but I don’t know what else they’re going to do next year. They’ve got Taylor in center field, and that’s certainly a position of need long-term, but they’re not getting much production at third base right now and I’m not of the belief that Nicky Lopez is the long-term answer there.

I know the Nick Pratto in LF take will go over poorly, but, again, I don’t know how else you get Dozier, Pratto, Pasquantino, Melendez, and Salvy in the same lineup otherwise. Two of Dozier, Melendez, and Pratto are going to have to go to the outfield at some point. You take your pick of the three.

This lineup is going to be good. Very good. Very soon. I tweeted it out earlier today and I mentioned it here already, but they have been a top-10 offense in all of baseball over the last month and they’ve still got two or three guys in the minors that should be able to come up and contribute to a big league lineup pretty quickly. I believe this lineup is going to be playoff ready in 2023. If the Royals don’t make the playoffs next year, it won’t be because the offense wasn’t good enough. I don’t think. The rotation is…another thing, but this offense is loaded and ready to roll.

I really wish the pitching staff was giving us more reasons to be excited about this team. The job that the Royals have done with their young hitters is so impressive. Melendez is a bona fide stud. Vinnie Pasquantino has immediately become one of the team’s best hitters. Bobby Witt Jr. looks like a generational cornerstone. They’re here, they’re legit, and they’re not done yet. If the pitching staff can make ANY kind of meaningful progress in the second half, this team could be legitimately fun to watch and semi-competitive almost immediately.

6 thoughts on “Projecting the 2023 Kansas City Royals: Part 4

  1. I believe that Hunter Dozier is traded at the deadline or in the off-season. He is taking up a starting roster spot that Edward Olivares should have. I’m still not a fan of Pratto. If he is striking out 39% of the time in AAA, what % will it be for the Royals??? 50%? I think he is a overrated player! Personally, I think they should try and trade him at the deadline with maybe Staumont for a AAA starting pitching and bullpen arm that are both pretty much ready to be brought up. I like Loftin in the lineup but don’t like him at 3B. He has 11 career minor league games at 3B. If I had to choose, I would probably pick Adam Eaton to play 3B. Kicking ass at the plate this year and has been playing 3B all year (although not great defense….). I won’t talk about pitching either….. Lastly, do we really need Gallagher on the roster if we have Melendez and Perez? That roster spot would be better used for another multi-position player who can either hit for power or has alot of speed (like Dairon Blanco).


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