As the Kansas City Royals chart their course over the rest of the 2021 season, there’s an obvious top prospect that deserves a shot.
The Kansas City Royals were one of the surprise teams of the first month of this season, with a 15-9 record as the calendar flipped to May. They won their first game of the month, but with the Cleveland Indians completing a four-game sweep of them on Thursday they have now lost five in a row to fall to 16-14.
The Royals are still in rebuild mode, but they may be close to a return to real contention. A correction was coming this year, as the schedule toughened, and it’s already happened. A .500 record, or something close, will be considered a positive step in 2021. MLB Pipeline’s 10th-ranked farm system, with three top-30 prospects, will bear fruit soon.
The Royals have already called up one of their top prospects, as left-hander, Daniel Lynch made his major league debut earlier this week (4.2 innings, three strikeouts and four walks against the Indians). But he surely won’t be the first Kansas City prospect to get a promotion to the big leagues his year.
With that in mind here’s one prospect the Royals should call up and on the other side a veteran that should be demoted.
Royals: 1 prospect to call up, one veteran to demote
Royals need to promote top prospect Bobby Witt Jr.
The second overall pick in the 2019 draft, Witt was ranked as a top-10 prospect by MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus this year. He knocked the cover off the ball during the spring, but with only 37 professional games in his resume (all in Rookie Ball in 2019) he did not start the season on the big league roster. The Royals don’t have a history of manipulating service time, and they didn’t do it with Witt. Losing the 2020 minor league season hurt him, as it did a lot of prospects across baseball.
Witt has started his minor league season at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, with two hits and two stolen bases in three games (14 at-bats) entering Friday. He’ll surely stay there for a little while, but by the end of May, a promotion to the big leagues could become a legit conversation.
A question regarding Witt is where he’ll immediately play for the Royals. Aldaberto Mondesi (oblique) is nearing a return to the starting spot at shortstop. Whit Merrifield and Hunter Dozier are not going to be displaced from second and third base respectively, though Merrifield could shift to the outfield some. In his three games at Double-A thus far Witt has started twice at shortstop and once at third base, for what that’s worth. Upon his call-up, at least as things look right now, Witt would likely see time at multiple spots–including DH.