Royals 2019 Season Preview

The Royals won their first March series in franchise history.

Royals 2019 Season Preview

By Sam Kombrink

What a busy time in Kansas City! The 2019 Baseball season has begun, and the royals currently have a record of 2-5. The Royals won their first March series in franchise history and it had Royals fans feeling optimistic for winning Baseball, but changes need to be made in the bullpen.

We will take a look at the positive strides the Royals made at the end of the 2018 season, and their progress in building up a new core of Royal talent. We will also look at the offseason moves the Royals front office has made. One of those position battles we will take a significant look at is the Catcher position, with Salvador Perez headed for right elbow surgery, with UCL damage. Last, but not least, I will give my 2019 season prediction for The Kansas City Royals.

In 2018 the Royals never had a shot at first place. They ended the season in dead last, with a record of 58-104. Not one single time in the 2018 season did the Royals find themselves in first place of the AL Central Division. The Royals spent 0 games over .500, and 52 under .500. On a positive note, Whit Merrifield went back to back leading the American League in stolen bases with (45) in 2018. New Centerfield Billy Hamilton finished 5th, recording (34), and Royals Shortstop Adalberto Mondesi finished 8th, with (32) stolen bases. Long story short, speed will be the name of the game in 2019. There are 162 games in a MLB season, and the Royals had a record of 31-36 the second half of the 2018 season, after going 27-68 during the first half. This Royals team showed improvement, and now it’s time to build off of it.

Free Agency has come and gone, and The Kansas City Royals had a Kansas City Royal type of free agency. They did not go out and offer a ship load of money, to free agents like Josh Harrison. Instead, they went the affordable route, going after relief pitching, utility players, and a new Centerfielder. The current average salary of every MLB position is indicated below.

  • FIRST BASE                      $ 7,870,959
  • DESIGNATED HITTER        $ 7,330,828
  • STARTING PITCHER              $ 5,757,086                     
  • RIGHT FIELD        $ 5,588,652          
  • CENTER FIELD        $ 4,686,969
  • SECOND BASE        $ 4,564,610
  • SHORT STOP                      $ 4,283,724
  • LEFT FIELD                      $ 4,001,986
  • THIRD BASE                      $ 3,893,751
  • CATCHER       $ 2,333,354
  • RELIEF PITCHER $ 2,051,544  

The Royals kicked off Free Agency by letting go of (Starting pitchers) Jason Hammel, and Nate Karns, (Relief Pitcher) Brandon Maurer, (Outfielder) Paulo Orlando, and fan favorite, (Shortstop) Alcides Escobar. I will never forget the time Escobar hit the inside the park homerun on the first at bat of the 2015 World Series. We hope the best for them going forward.

As for additions, the Royals started off by signing a utility player from the Arizona Diamondbacks, (Infielder) Chris Owings, to a $3 Million deal. The Royals then addressed the hole in Centerfield, by signing Billy Hamilton, from the Cincinnati Reds, for $5.3 Million. February was a busy month as the Royals seemed like they had sat back to observe the market, and then from February 6th to February 13th, they signed not one, but three key relief pitchers in hopes to strike gold. Those players are (Relief Pitcher) Brad Boxberger, (Relief Pitcher) Jake Diekman, and Veteran (Relief Pitcher) Homer Bailey.

New Royals:

  • Billy Hamilton – Centerfielder
  •  Age:28 – Signed to a 1 year deal for $5.3 Million.
  • Former Team: Cincinnati Reds.
  • Bats: Switch Hitter, Throws: Right.
  • Career Stats: 690 Games, .245 Batting Average, .298 On Base %, 277 Stolen Bases, 21 Homeruns, 161 RBI’s.
  • 2018 Stats: 153 Games, .236 Batting Average, .299 On Base %, 34 Stolen Bases, 4 Homeruns, 29 RBI’s.
  • Chris Owings – Third Baseman, Second Basemen, Shortstop, Outfielder
  •  Age:27 – Signed to a 1 year deal for $3 Million.
  •   Former Team: Arizona Diamondbacks.
  •    Bats: Right, Throws: Right.
  •    Career Stats: 580 Games, .250 Batting Average, .291 On Base %, .378 Slugging             %, 31 Homeruns, 196 RBI’s.
  •     2018 Stats: 106 Games, .206 Batting Average, .272 On Base %, .302 Slugging %, 4 Homeruns, 22 RBI’s.
  • Brad Boxberger – Relief Pitcher
  •      Age:30 – Signed to a 1 year deal for $2.2 Million.
  •      Former Team: Arizona Diamondbacks.
  •      Throws: Right.
  •       Career Stats: 293 Games, 3.50 Earned Run Average, 370 Strikeouts.
  •      2018 Stats: 60 Games, 4.39 Earned Run Average, 71 Strikeouts.
  • Jake Diekman – Relief Pitcher
  •       Age:32 – Signed to a 1 year deal for $2.8 Million.
  •       Former Team: Arizona Diamondbacks.
  •       Throws: Left.
  •      Career Stats: 365 Games, 3.75 Earned Run Average, 383 Strikeouts.
  •       2018 Stats: 24 Games, 7.53 Earned Run Average, 18 Strikeouts.
  • Homer Bailey – Relief Pitcher
  •        Age:32 – Signed to a 1 year deal for $555,000.
  •       Former Team: Cincinnati Reds.
  •       Throws: Right.
  •      Career Stats: 212 Games, 4.56 Earned Run Average, 1001 Strikeouts.
  •      2018 Stats: 20 Games, 6.09 Earned Run Average, 75 Strikeouts.
  • Martin Maldonado – Catcher
  •       Age:32 – Signed to a 1 year deal for $2.5 Million.
  •      Former Team: Houston Astros.
  •        Bats: Right, Throws: Right.
  •      Career Stats: 615 Games, .219 Batting Average, .288 On Base %, .350 Slugging             %, 51 Homeruns, 193 RBI’s.
  •      2018 Stats: 41 Games, .231 Batting Average, .257 On Base %, .398 Slugging %, 9 Homeruns, 44 RBI’s.

The season has gotten off to a fast start, and that just the way the Royals are going to play this season. Defense & Speed will be the name of the game for the Royals, as they look to have a versatile approach on the MLB. By versatile, I mean that you will see a lot of moving parts, like Whit being asked to play Right Field, as well as second, and other rotations at positions like Right Field, First Base, Second Base, Third Base, and Designated Hitter. This Royals team will do a lot of shifting, hitting to get on base, and stealing a lot of bases in 2019.

As for the youth, there is quite a bit of talent to be found in the next few seasons in Kansas City. Starting with Frank “the tank” Schwindel, who showed a lot of promise in spring training by showing off his versatility at First Base, Designated Hitter, and Catcher. Other players the Royals could bring up include, P Heath Filimyer, and 2B Nicky Lopez.

  • Frank Schwindel – First Base, Catcher
  • Age:26 – 1 year $555,000.
  • Former Team: Omaha Stormchasers (AAA).
  • Bats: Right, Throws: Right.
  • Career Stats: (MINORS) 692 Games, .287 Batting Average, .319 On Base %,       .474 Slugging %, 107 Homeruns, 467 RBI’s.
  • 2018 Stats: 134 Games, .286 Batting Average, .336 On Base %, .506 Slugging %, 24 Homeruns, 93 RBI’s.
  • Kyle Zimmer – Relief Pitcher, Starting Pitcher
  • Age: 27 – 1 year $555,0000.
  • Former Team: Omaha Storm-chasers
  • Throws: Right
  • Career Stats: (MINORS) 90 Games, 3.54 Earned Run Average, 327 Strikeouts.
  • 2019 Stats:  2 Games, 18.00 Earned Run Average, 2 Strikeouts.
  • Nicky Lopez – Second Basemen, Shortstop
  • Age: 24 – Bats: Left, Throws: Right
  • Career Stats: (MINORS) 343 Games, .295 Batting Average, .373 On Base %, .402 Slugging %, 19 Homeruns, 131 RBI’s.
  • 2018 Stats: 73 Games, .331 Batting Average, .397 On Base %, .416 Slugging %, 2 Homeruns, 27 RBI’s.

When Salvador Perez went down with his injury people thought the season was shot, due to the fact that he is the best defensive catcher in the American League. The Royals have depth with Maldonado starting the season, then I expect the Royals to bring up prospects.

  • Cam Gallagher – Catcher
  • Age: 26 – 1 year $557,000.
  • Former Team: Omaha Stormchasers (AAA).
  • Bats: Right, Throws: Right.
  • Minors Stats: 544 Games, .247 Batting Average, .320 On Base %, .351 Slugging             %, 32 Homeruns, 225 RBI’s.
  •  2018 Stats: (AAA Omaha) 77 Games, .265 Batting Average, .334 On Base %, .358 Slugging %, 32 Homeruns, 42 RBI’s.
  • (Royals) 22 Games, .206 Batting Average, .250 On Base %, .302 Slugging %, 1 Homerun, 7 RBI’s.
  • Meibrys Viloria – Catcher
  • Age:22 – 1 year $555,000.
  • Former Team: Omaha Stormchasers (AAA).
  • Bats: Left, Throws: Right.
  •  Minors Stats: 320 Games, .283 Batting Average, .355 On Base %, .409 Slugging             %, 6 Homeruns.
  •   2018 Stats: (Royals) 14 Games, .300 Batting Average, .450 On Base %, .533 Slugging %, 23 Homeruns, 192 RBI’s.
  • MJ Melendez – Catcher
  • Age:20
  •  (AAA Lexington).
  •   Bats: Left, Throws: Right.
  •   Minors Stats: (Single A) 158 Games, .203 Batting Average, .337 On Base %, .470 Slugging %, 23 Homeruns, 103 RBI’s.
  •    2018 Stats: 111 Games, .254 Batting Average, .322 On Base %, .492 Slugging %, 19 Homeruns, 73 RBI’s.

The good news is that it’s only April and the Royals have already showed us that they want to compete, despite having their leader Salvador Perez go down with a right elbow injury. I think without the Salvy injury, the Royals could be in the wildcard hunt, but the fact is we have to work with what we have in house before we can make any moves regarding the future. When the times comes I believe the Royals will move a piece for Pitching Prospects, Draft Picks, and Cash.

The Royals have won their first Opening Day Series in March, a (2-1) 3 game series win over division rival, Chicago White Sox. Since then the Royals have ran into trouble with the bullpen.

With the current team, I predict we can still be competitive. Right now, the Royals are being led by Jorge Soler, Whit Merrifield, and Adalberto Mondesi, keeping the line moving, and a dominant young ace in Brad Keller.  

  • Brad Keller – Starting Pitcher
  • 2 Games Started, 13 innings pitched, 1-0 W-L, 2.08 ERA, 10 Strikeouts, 3 Runs
  • Jorge Soler – Designated hitter, Right Field
  • 7 Games, .296 Batting Average, .345 On Base %, .556 Slugging %, 8 Hits, 1 Home Run, 7 RBI’s
  • Whit Merrifield – Right Field, Second Base
  • 7 Games, .267 Batting Average, .313 On Base %, .467 Slugging %, 8 Hits, 1 Home run, 4 RBI’s
  • (27) game hit streak and counting, (2nd) in Royals history, (1st) 1980 George Brett (30 hits)
  • Adalberto Mondesi – Shortstop
  • 7 Games, .300 Batting Average, 300 On Base %, .667 Slugging %, 9 Hits, 1 Home Run, 5 RBI’s

I predict that this year’s team will finish 2nd or 3rd in the AL Central, with a record of around 79-83 at best. The reason for the most part is due to Pitching. The Royals will be young and mistakes will catch up with them, because young teams make mistakes. The Royals have time to tinker with the roster and find a winning formula in the bullpen, but don’t expect a winning season.

If I were to put myself in the General Manager’s Position I’m feeling good about my offense going forward, but I would be working with Ned Yost to make some changes to the pitching staff. One idea I have is to switch Jorge Lopez to the bullpen, and let the Rookie Kyle Zimmer Start, because it’s early in the season and the Royals have more leverage right now. Another move the Roylas could make is to go after former Royal pitchers, Brandon Finnegan, and Ryan Madson to add to the Bullpen. I would also move 2B Chris Owings down to AAA Omaha for 2B Nicky Lopez at some point. The Royals need to get healthy pitching wise, they have 4 pitchers on the DL, (Danny Duffy, Brian Flynn, Jesse Hahn, Trevor Oaks) and Eric Skoglund serving an 80-game suspension for testing positive for selective androgen receptor modulators s-22 (Ostarine) and LGD-4033 (Ligandrol). By the time the Royals get Danny Duffy back from Left Shoulder Impingement, and Skoglund back from serving his 80 games, I think it will be too late for the Royals to compete for the postseason, but it looks a lot more likely in 2020. I have talked with Royals fans who are worried, and some who are optimistic. A majority do not expect a winning season in 2019, but this year’s team has already made History.

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