What to expect in Toronto

The Royals are going to be without 10 of their regulars during a four-game set in Toronto this weekend, and it seems like a good time to remind folks that the Royals have some legitimate prospects coming through the upper minors that will be making the trip to Toronto. I’ll update on Twitter when we know for sure who else had made the trip, but for now, here’s a brief collection of guys we know will be with the club in the Great White North and what to expect from them.

Sebastian Rivero, C

Rivero has big league experience and the Royals are going to need that as both MJ Melendez and Cam Gallagher hit the restricted list. I don’t expect Rivero to start all four games but it would not surprise me one bit considering is down to their fourth catcher at the moment. Rivero is a tremendous defender behind home plate despite what is an average arm, and while he’s not going to provide you much offensively, he’s actually hitting for more power at AA this season than he ever has before. Again, I’d be surprised if he racked up more than a few hits this weekend, but he’s a great catcher, he receives the ball well, he’s handled a big league staff before, and that’s the most important thing for this weekend.

Nick Pratto, 1B

Just…please Mike. Please don’t sit Pratto on the bench all weekend. Please…let’s see if your first baseman of the future is able to stick around after the All-Star Break without having to go back to Omaha first.

Michael Massey, 2B

Again…please don’t just sit Massey on the bench all weekend. Massey may well be the second baseman of the future and is likely to find himself in our mid-season top five after the draft. Massey, a 24-year old out of Illinois, has 15 home runs between AA and AAA this season and has really cut down on the strikeouts over the last few weeks. He’s got legitimate 20+ HR power and has started hitting the ball in the air so frequently it seems likely he can sustain this pace. He won the Gold Glove Award for all second baseman in the minor leagues last year and moves well on the bases. I expected Massey to have a shot at being a big league regular this past offseason, I just didn’t expect it to be by this August.

Nate Eaton, UTIL

Nate Eaton cracked our top-30 for the first time this preseason after an excellent showing in the Arizona Fall League. He’s played third base, second base, right field, center field, shortstop, and left field in his minor league career, and while he probably isn’t capable of playing SS or CF in the big leagues, he’s a true super-utility man that has started hitting better than ever in his age-25 season. He’s cut down on his strikeouts, optimized his launch angle, and now he’s on the cusp of making his big league debut. I don’t expect him to play much this weekend, but he’s a sparkplug and I really hope, for his sake, that he gets an opportunity.

Clay Dungan, UTIL

Dungan is probably just an emergency option this weekend, but he offers some stellar defense on the infield and has looked fine in limited time in the outfield this year. The bat is a contact-first approach without much juice to speak of, but he’s serviceable in a Ramon Torres/Erick Mejia role if all hell breaks loose. Which…given the circumstances…

Freddy Fermin, C

Freddy Fermin has been a freaking warrior for the Royals for the last seven years and this is the type of kid you can’t help but root for. He’s bounced around the minor leagues for seven years and now he’ll get an opportunity to sit in a big league dugout in a big league uniform during a big league game. He’s not otherwise a big leaguer, probably, and I doubt he gets more than one game in this weekend, but he won’t screw anything up defensively and he’s got some juice if he can run into one. Like I said…he’s back to Omaha next week, but dammit if I won’t be rooting hard for this dude in Toronto.

Brewer Hicklen, OF

We’ve seen Hicklen in the big leagues momentarily earlier this year and we’ve covered him plenty so I won’t waste a ton of time. Serious power, serious speed, great defense in the corners, probably going to play a ton of center field this weekend. Fingers crossed he runs into his first big league hit while he’s at it.

This is all I can confirm for now. I would assume that Angel Zerpa and Josh Staumont are likely to join the team to help replace Dylan Coleman and Brad Keller. Would also seem very likely that Carlos Hernandez could be called on to help make a start. Assuming all of those guys are vaccinated, that is.

I’m honestly kind of excited to see what happens this weekend. Toronto just fired their manager and they’re playing a team full of dudes that are playing on house money. They’ve got nothing to lose. That’s a dangerous proposition in the wide world of sports. I’m not sure I’ll share anymore thoughts on Whit or Benintendi, but we may get to that later. For now, let’s all enjoy the youth infusion this weekend. There’s nothing more enjoyable in baseball than watching players make their big league debuts. We ought to see a ton of that in Toronto this weekend.

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