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Season Preview: 2020 Kansas City Royals

Whit Merrifield and Mondesi

At the end of July, we will have Major League baseball. This 2020 season will be unlike anything we have ever seen. For the past several years, MLB teams have played 162-game seasons. However, this year will be a 60-game sprint and every game will be pivotal. The 2020 Kansas City Royals have several story-lines coming into the 2020 campaign. From returning veterans such as Alex Gordon, to new faces with the expanded rosters. This is the season preview for the 2020 Kansas City Royals.

Season Format

The 2020 season will be comprised of 60 games beginning on either July 23 or 24 and running through Sept. 27, giving fans their first taste of baseball this year after Opening Day was canceled due to coronavirus. The plan will be that teams will play in their respective ballparks, unlike the bubble format that will be used in the NBA and MLS. However, MLB does have the power to relocate teams if necessary. For the Royals, they will play 40 games inside the AL Central. This means 10 games against the Twins, White Sox, Indians, and Tigers. The other 20 games will be against the NL Central. Meaning the Royals will also play the Cubs, Pirates, Cardinals, Brewers, and Reds.

The 2020 MLB schedule should be coming out within the next week. MLB is still trying to figure out where each team will play with coronavirus cases rising in states like Florida, Texas, and Arizona.

Rosters

Alex Gordon after scoring a run in 2019,

As of Sunday, each MLB team listed a 60-man player pool for the 2020 season. When the season opens on July 23 or 24, teams will submit rosters of up to 30 players. Two weeks later, those rosters will be trimmed to 28, then to 26 two weeks after that. Each team will be using a taxi-squad, which must have at least one catcher, while the other two players can be either pitchers or position players. Here is the 60-man player pool the Royals will be sending to camp.

New Manager Mike Matheny

MIke Matheny coaching the Royals.

On October 31st, the Royals named Mike Matheny their manager after Ned Yost announced his retirement earlier during the 2019 season. Matheny managed the St. Louis Cardinals for 7 years prior to joining the Kansas City Royals. He led the Cardinals to four straight playoff appearances from 2012-2015.

Whit Merrifield wants to contend in 2020

Whit Merrifield hitting.
May 18, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals left fielder Whit Merrifield (15) hits a single in the fifth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Royals OF Whit Merrifield has been with the team since 2016. However, he has never made a playoff appearance during his time in the Major Leagues. Recently this week, Merrifield told Jeffery Flanagan of MLB.com what baseball returning means to him.

Can Soler/Dozier continue 2019 success?

Jorge Soler and Hunter Dozier.

Jorge Soler and Hunter Dozier were some of bright spots in 2019 for the Kansas City Royals. Soler led the AL in Home Runs (48) while Hunter Dozier batted .276 with 26 Home Runs and 84 RBI. Soler and Dozier showed they both could bat out of the 3 and 4 hole in the lineup and produce throughout 2019. Both guys look to continue their success in 2019 and translate it over into 2020.

Players looking to get healthy

Salvador Perez walking during the 2018 season.

Royals catcher Salvador Perez missed all of 2019 with season-ending Tommy-John. The Kansas City Royals missed Salvy during the 2019 season and had to use others to replace the gold-glove catcher. Royals pitching should find more success with Perez behind home plate.

Another player coming back from injury is Royals SS Adalberto Mondesi. Mondesi had left shoulder surgery last fall. Opening Day was scheduled for late March and it was in question if Mondesi was going to be ready by then. However, Mondesi has had several months off to prepare for the season. In April, he posted the following video on his Instagram and it looks like the young shortstop is a full go.

First-Base Decision

Ryan O'Hearn hitting.

As I wrote back in early Spring Training, Ryan O’Hearn and Ryan McBroom are still competing for the starting first-base role. O’Hearn has yet to play a full season in the Majors but showed he could be a big league hitter in late 2018. However, in 2019 he struggled and batted below .200 and was sent down to AAA Omaha. McBroom was acquired from the New York Yankees and played for 23 games in 2019. They may both platoon at first-base at the end of it. But this is the most intriguing position battle this season for the 2020 Kansas City Royals.

Nicky Lopez looks forward to 2020

Nicky Lopez hitting during Spring Training.

Nicky Lopez is looking to build off of the 2019 season and develop in 2020. Lopez played both middle-infield positions during the 2019 season. He batted .240 with 2 Home Runs and 30 RBIs in 2019. However, when he was in AAA Omaha, Lopez batted .276 with a career-high 7 home runs. Lopez likes to hit the ball all over the yard and is not a pull hitter. If he can master MLB pitching, Lopez could be in for a big season.

What new faces can bring to the Royals

Maikol Franco playing for the Phillies.

The 2020 Kansas City Royals are bringing in a few new faces to the organization. First off, they signed former Philadelphia Phillie, Maikel Franco. Franco in 2019 batted .234 with 17 Home Runs and 56 RBIs. Franco will be the Royals third-basemen while Hunter Dozier moves to right-field.

Along with Franco, the Royals added a few new pitchers over the off season. RHP Chance Adams, RHP Trevor Rosenthal, and Rule 5 Draft pick RHP Stephen Woods Jr. Adams last season pitched for the New York Yankees but kept revolving between a starter and a reliever so he never got into a groove with the Bronx Bombers.

Rosenthal struggled for the Tigers and Nationals last year. However, under Mike Matheny in St. Louis in 2015, Rosenthal was an All-Star and had a career-high 48 saves. During Spring Training, Rosenthal was impressing the coaching staff and was hitting 100 MPH on his fastball. Woods Jr. came out of the Tampa Bay Rays organization and was selected by the Royals in the Rule 5 Draft this off-season. The Royals are hoping Woods Jr. can be a diamond in the rough just like they found Brad Keller in the Rule 5 Draft a few years ago.

Pitching looks to bounce back in 2020

Ian Kennedy pitching for the Royals.

The Kansas City Royals pitching staff struggled to say the least in 2019. They had a team ERA of 5.20, which ranked 27th in the MLB. The starters for the 2020 season should include guys like Brad Keller, Danny Duffy, Mike Montgomery, and Jake Junis. However, the 5th starter spot is still up in the air.

The bullpen will feature several strong arm hurlers such as Trevor Rosenthal and Josh Staumont. Jorge Lopez moved to the bullpen at the end of 2019 and Glenn Sparkman did the same during Spring Training this year. Pitching will need to step up if the Royals want to contend in 2020.

Prospects may shine for KC

Brady Singer pitching in minor leagues.

On the Kansas City 60-man player pool, the Royals added a hand full of top prospects to the roster. Brady Singer, the team’s top pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, was in Spring Training back in March before baseball was shut down. While not on the 40-man roster, Singer could have a shot at cracking the active roster for Opening Day in 2020. They also added pitchers such as Kris Bubic, Jackson Kowar, Daniel Lynch, Tyler Zuber, and Daniel Tillo into the mix.

The biggest surprise on the 60-man player pool was SS Bobby Witt Jr. Many believe they put Witt. Jr on the list so they can use this time to develop him along with 1B Nick Pratto and IF Jeison Guzman. However, this is no ordinary baseball season so anything can happen.

The 30-man roster for Opening Day could include OF Bubba Starling and OF Brett Phillips, but both players are out of options. This could then open up a roster spot for some young outfield prospects to get some playing time. Erick Mejia (who can also play IF), Kyle Isbel, and Nick Heath look to be the front runners for roster spots.


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