With the Kansas City Royals having power in such short supply, any power hitting prospect in the system will immediately draw attention to himself. This especially holds true when that prospect not only leads the Royals minor leagues in home runs, but also leads his league by a fairly wide margin. Such is the case with the Royals first baseman/right fielder Ryan O’Hearn.
O’Hearn has displayed quite the power potential during his time in the Royals system. A year after hitting 13 home runs in his 293 plate appearances with the Idaho Falls Chukars, O’Hearn has continued his power stroke with the Lexington Legends. Thus far, O’Hearn has posted a .264/.330/.486 batting line with 17 home runs. Those 17 home runs are six more than Austen Smith, the next highest player on the list.
For as well as O’Hearn has performed this season, he has actually had a bit of bad luck with the batted ball. Despite an above average 21.7% line drive rate, O’Hearn only has a .296 batting average on balls in play. While that number is depressed a bit since home runs do not factor into the equation, O’Hearn has a BABiP that is 15 points below the league average.
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Ryan O’Hearn has also showed the potential to be more than a power hitting prospect for the Kansas City Royals. He has displayed an above average eye at the plate, drawing a walk in 8.6% of his plate appearances. O’Hearn also has a bit of speed that is relatively uncommon for a first baseman, stealing seven bases in nine attempts. He definitely seems as though he should be a player rising up the Royals prospect rankings.
There are a few concerns with O’Hearn as well. He has struck out 82 times in his 280 at bats this season for a 25.7% strikeout rate, 5.7% above the average for the South Atlantic League. However, if O’Hearn can hit be the same type of power hitter as he rises through the minor leagues, then the strike out rate will not be as much of an issue.
With the Kansas City Royals still searching for that middle of the order impact hitter, they may have someone worth keeping an eye on in Ryan O’Hearn. It may be a while before he reaches Kansas City, but O’Hearn could well be that player the Royals have been searching for over the past few years.