A look at the top prospects for the Kansas City Royals shows a great deal of upside and currently untapped potential. Ryan O’Hearn certainly fits both categories.
The game of baseball has evolved over the past decade. Gone are the days when players like Brady Anderson and Luis Gonzalez would “randomly” show up and hit 50+ home runs, due to their “extensive offseason training.” Power, once a readily available commodity, has become rarer as time goes on.
If there is one thing that Kansas City Royals minor league first baseman Ryan O’Hearn has, it is power. After hitting 13 home runs in his first professional campaign in 2014, O’Hearn’s power broke out last year. Playing for both the Lexington Legends and the Wilmington Blue Rocks, O’Hearn slugged 27 home runs, easily pacing the Royals minor leagues as he had eight more home runs than second place Brett Eibner.
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That power potential is beginning to draw attention to O’Hearn. He cracked our list of the Kansas City Royals top fifteen prospects following the 2015 season, and made the Baseball America list of top twenty minor league first basemen, coming in 17th. Not bad for an eighth round selection during the 2014 draft who just had jumped from the rookie leagues to A-ball last year.
There are certainly concerns when it comes to O’Hearn moving forward. He struck out in 29.8% of his plate appearances once he was promoted to Wilmington, despite a solid 10.5% walk rate. With those two numbers, it may be that O’Hearn had been a bit passive on his promotion to High-A. As his isolated power only dropped by .006 points between Lexington and Wilmington, a commitment to attacking the zone may help O’Hearn break out in the 2016 season.
In fact, it could be that O’Hearn is knocking on the door to the majors relatively soon. It seems likely that he will begin the 2016 season back in Wilmington, and if he gets off to a hot start, could be in Northwest Arkansas in short order. With the raw power that O’Hearn offers, improved results, especially if he is promoted to AA could mean a long look in Spring Training in 2017.
Ryan O’Hearn could be an exciting prospect for the Kansas City Royals. His power is helping him attract some notice already, and if he can build on a solid 2015, that future could come relatively soon.