As the days count down, pitchers and catchers will be reporting to their clubs in earnest. This spring, the Kansas City Royals will have some interesting players to watch. With the Opening Day lineup looking pretty obvious, the pitching staff and backup roles still need to be figured out. With that, let’s get into the players to watch for during the Royals’ 2020 Spring Training.
1B Ryan O’Hearn
Ryan O’Hearn struggled last season. Batting .195 on the season with 14 home runs in 328 at-bats, he did not fare well at the plate. At one point, he was sent down to Triple-A Omaha in mid-June. O’Hearn is hunting for a bounce-back 2020 campaign where he could split time with others at first base. He will look to get off to a hot start in Spring Training so he can beman the position for the future in Kansas City.
OF Nick Heath
Nick Heath, a 26-year-old from Junction City, Kansas, played for the Royals’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates in 2019. This past season, he made a name for himself in the minor leagues by channeling the spirit of past Royals and ran wild.
Heath stole 60 of 73 bases attempts last season throughout the minor leagues, and this winter he played in the Dominican Winter Baseball League for the Tigres De Licey. There, he played in 34 games, hit .252 and had 16 stolen bases. Heath has a good chance at making it to the majors if two other out-of-options players don’t impress.
OF Bubba Starling/ Brett Phillips
Both Bubba Starling and Brett Phillips started their 2019 seasons in Triple-A Omaha and found success. Once reaching the major leagues, however, the men struggled throughout their time in Kansas City with the bat. Phillips batted .138 with two home runs and nine RBI while Starling batted .215 in 186 at-bats.
Both Starling and Phillips are out of minor league options, so both will need to show the coaching staff that they can hit at a major league level in order to stick with the club. If not, guys like Nick Heath could take that spot.
RP Daniel Tillo
Tillo was a third-round pick in the 2017 draft out of the University of Kentucky. The left-hander pitched in 2019 for three different clubs in the Royals system that included the Surprise Royals in the Arizona League, High A Wilmington, and AA Northwest Arkansas. He posted a 3.72 ERA last year in 130.2 innings pitched.
Tillo also pitched for Team USA in the Olympic Qualifiers this past fall, where he pitched 4.1 innings with a 2.08 ERA and eight strikeouts. Tillo looks like a solid back end of the bullpen guy who could help out the bullpen and could show that this spring.
SP Brady Singer
Brady Singer was picked 18th overall in the 2018 MLB Draft out of the University of Florida. Singer has blown through the minor league system and looks to be a starting pitcher out of spring training according to Jeffery Flanagan of MLB.com. Singer last season played for High A Wilmington and AA Northwest Arkansas where he posted an ERA of 2.85 with a 12-5 record. He also had 138 strikeouts in 148 innings pitched.
Singer looks like the real deal, as he has quickly developed through the minor league system. It should be exciting to see him pitch in the 2020 Spring Training.
Watching how Royals players perform in Spring Training will be interesting. – especially knowing that some of these names are trying to reach the Majors for the first time while others are looking to keep their roster spots and have a bounce-back season. As pitchers and catchers report in less than one week, answers will be questioned over the next month down in Surprise, Arizona for the Kansas City Royals.
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