LOD’s 3 Players to Watch: Kansas City Royals
For this series, LOD writers will pick three players from each MLB team that we feel are players to watch in the 2023 season.
The Kansas City Royals finished at the bottom of the AL Central last season. Only the Oakland A’s had a worse record in the American League. As of 2022, only four members (outside of Salvador Perez) of the Royals 2015 World Series winning team were still on MLB rosters. Like their division rival, Detroit Tigers, the Royals have been in total rebuild mode for some time now. As a small market ballclub, when the Royals have enjoyed success as franchise, it’s been through the development of talent in their farm system. Losing records is recent years have resulted in a number of top draft picks. Among those picks are two young stars highlighted in this article.
Bobby Witt Jr., SS
The number two overall pick of the 2019 MLB Draft is positioned to be the face of the franchise. Bobby Witt Jr., son of long-time Texas Rangers pitcher Bobby Witt Sr., burst onto the scene in 2022 with a strong rookie season. Witt finished with 20 HRs / 80 RBIs / .254 BA / .722 OPS and 30 stolen bases. Based on his rookie performance, it’s reasonable to say Witt has future 30/30 potential. He would finish fourth in AL Rookie of the Year voting. In his first season, Witt has made his mark as one of the young stars of the game. He seems to enjoy the spotlight too. Whether it’s training with Super Bowl winning Quarterback Patrick Mahomes or designing his baseball cards with Topps, Bobby Witt Jr., the brand, seems to be catching on.
Brady Singer, SP
Singer was once projected to be the number one overall pick of the 2018 MLB draft, but slipped to #18 when he was selected by Kansas City. You might recall the heartwarming story of Singer paying off his parents mortgage when he signed his professional contract. The Eustis, Florida native and College World Series Champion (Florida Gators, 2017) has quietly become a top tier pitcher. Singer went 10-5 / 3.23 ERA / 1.141 WHIP with 150 strikeouts in 2022. Plenty of predictions suggesting Singer will have an All-Star season in 2023 and betting markets are even floating his name out there as a potential Cy Young Award winner.
Today is very special to my heart. To give back to the two people who have given up everything to support my brother and I. I can’t thank them enough. Love you Mom and Dad pic.twitter.com/AFHi2Xma0c
— Brady Singer (@Bsinger51) December 25, 2018
Zack Greinke, SP
While he’s certainly not the future of the franchise, Zack Greinke made his return to Kansas City last season. Greinke was the Royals first round pick (#6 overall) in the 2002 MLB Draft, out of Apopka High School (Apopka, FL). He’s a six time All-Star, 6 time Gold Glove winner and won the 2009 AL Cy Young with the Royals. Greinke is a 19 year MLB veteran and currently sits just 118 strikeouts away from 3000. If Greinke joins the 3000 club, he will be just the 20th pitcher all-time to do so. In 2022, Greinke went just 4-9 ( in 26 starts) / 3.68 ERA / 1.343 WHIP and struck-out just 73 hitters. Can Zack Greinke have a late career rally and break into that elite class of pitchers?
Kings or Jesters?
While the Kansas City Royals may have finished at the bottom of the AL Central last season, in recent years that division has been up for grabs. The Royals may not quite be ready in their rebuilding process to make a run at the division crown, but they are developing a young core of players that may get them ready to make a run in the years to come. Their young stars, like Witt and Singer, will at least make them interesting to follow, for Kansas City fans, in the mean time.