The Royals will be playing their first game tomorrow and there is lots of competition in camp. There are always players that must prove they belong on a major league roster. Especially for the Royals, many players must prove they belong with the next wave of players coming soon. Here are my picks for players in make or break seasons.
Kyle Zimmer the former 5th overall pick in 2012 has struggled to stay healthy his whole career. Zimmer made his MLB debut at age 27 last year but struggled and was sent down not long after that. Zimmer was recently given another option so it is less likely that he makes the team on opening day but we will definitely see Zimmer in the bullpen in 2020. Last spring training Kyle Zimmer put up a 0.71 ERA over 12.2 innings so there is still some potential there. Staying healthy was a big step for Zimmer now the next step is to perform in the majors. Zimmer who had a 10.80 ERA in the majors must now prove that he is even worth a spot on an MLB team.
Eric Skoglund was suspended 80 games for violating the MLB’s PED policy and when he came back he didn’t look great, to say the least. the 6′ 7 lefty put up a 9.00 ERA over 6 games 4 of those being starts. In Skoglund’s 3 years in the majors, he has never posted an ERA under 5. He could be someone that loses a spot on the roster when the next wave of pitchers starts rolling in. Skoglund has said that he realizes how big this season is and he will do anything the Royals want him to. He is a candidate for the 5th starter and he must show the Royals that he belongs in 2020.
Jorge Lopez was acquired from the Brewers in the Mike Moustakas trade and has had his moments where he flashed potential. Most notably when he took a perfect game into the 9th in 2018. Lopez has good stuff it has been about if he can utilize it and become successful. I’ll give you a short answer he has not been successful so far. Lopez was moved out of a starting role last year after immensely struggling. Royals plan to use Lopez in the bullpen in 2020 and they believe it will be beneficial for him and the team. Hopefully, the move to the bullpen helps Lopez find a groove and become a solid relief option for the Royals.
The other piece of the Mike Moustakas trade has struggled offensively since being in the Royals organization. Phillips has been stellar defensively whether it be right or center field he has a cannon and great range. That being said you must be able to hit at least decently if you want to be a major leaguer. Phillips hit .138 over 65 plate appearances and .188 over 112 plate appearances in 2018. But over 2018 and 2019 had a UZR/150 of 29.9 and 31.5 which if you don’t know is really good like REALLY good. I was really hoping Phillips would get an opportunity to play everyday because I believe it would benefit him but with Alex Gordon returning that seems unlikely. Maverick must just hit a little because that defense carries his game hopefully he shows that in 2020.
28-year-old Bubba Starling was selected with 5th overall pick in 2011 similar to Zimmer has struggled to stay healthy. Also, like Zimmer, Starling made his debut in 2019 and was slightly underwhelming. Like Phillips, Starling is excellent defensively and can play all the outfield positions but he also struggles offensively. Starling hit .215 with a .255 OBP over 186 plate appearances. He is almost a lock for the opening day roster so hopefully, Bubba at least shows some of the players the Royals thought they got when they drafted him. Both him and Phillips are out of options so they could get moved on from in favor of younger prospects like Nick Heath and Khalil Lee.
O’Hearn seems like he will be given every opportunity to win the 1st base job in 2020. O’Hearn hit .262 with 12 HRs over 149 plate appearances in 2018 and seemed to be a bright spot of the Royals. O’Hearn’s 2019 was disappointing, to say the least. O’Hearn hit .195 over 328 plate appearances but did still show some pop with 14 home runs. O’Hearn had a promising end to the season hitting .297 with a 1.025 OPS in his final 28 games. I fully expect O’Hearn to bounce back but if he doesn’t he has Ryan McBroom who could definitely replace O’Hearn if he fails to succeed in 2020.
As we rapidly approach Spring Training, there is reason to be optimistic. We see the players working out in Suprise, conforming to a new team. As a fan, I'm feeling really confident with this 2020 team. It's good to see the same feeling carries over ... Read more
Royals played their first spring training game today, unfortunately, the Royals couldn't pull out the win. Royals started off early with a Salvador Perez walk and Jorge Soler moonshot which made the game 2-0. Ryan O'Hearn also homered in the bottom of the 6th which ... Read more