The KC Royals still need an offensive boost, despite Tuesday night’s dramatic 7-6 comeback win over the Washington Nationals at Kauffman Stadium. Could AAA prospect Cheslor Cuthbert be that guy?
The Kansas City Royals rank 13th in the American League in runs scored, which pretty much sums up their early season troubles. The pitching has kept the team afloat with a 3.45 staff ERA (third best in the AL). The KC Royals defense is still among the best in baseball, and the bullpen has been solid.
Despite the poor showing from the offense, the Kansas City Royals sit at 14-12, but find themselves looking up in the AL Central standings at the streaking White Sox whose pitchers are mowing down the opposition (staff ERA of 2.45). With hitters like Alex Gordon, Kendrys Morales, and Lorenzo Cain sputtering, could KC Royals general manager Dayton Moore look to AAA Omaha for help?
Twenty-three year old Cheslor Cuthbert is having something of a coming out party as a dominant hitter in Omaha. The former top-prospect had been rapidly pushed through the Kansas City Royals system early in his career. Typically, he was either the youngest, or one of the youngest, players at his level.
As a result, Cuthbert has never really put up big numbers as a minor leaguer. That is, until this season. Cuthbert is smashing AAA pitching for a .306/.378/.576 triple slash and six home runs in 98 plate appearances so far this season. It’s all coming together for Cuthbert, who is not only showing unprecedented power, he’s displayed patience at the plate with 10 walks.
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As a result, Cuthbert sports a career-high .954 OPS—which is a big jump from his career mark of .721.
The problem is, Cuthbert plays at first and third base. Right now, the KC Royals two best hitters are first baseman Eric Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas, Cuthbert is pretty much blocked at the major-league level for the next two seasons, unless either Moose or Hoz suffers an injury.
Of course, all of that might change if designated hitter Kendrys Morales continues to hold back the Kansas City Royals offense. Or else Cuthbert shows he can handle second base.
I don’t expect either to happen anytime soon. Morales has earned quite a bit of slack after a .290/.362/.485 season in 2015 which earned him the AL silver slugger award for designated hitters. Add in the fact that Morales has suffered from some bad luck at the plate with hard hit balls landing just foul or in someone’s glove, and I don’t see KC Royals manager Ned Yost sitting him down in short term, barring injury.
Yet, Cuthbert could help Yost turn designated hitter into a rotating position for the Kansas City Royals—while also giving Moose or Hoz a break against a tough left-hander.
As for second base, I don’t see how Cuthbert will provide the defense Moore insists on from a middle infielder. He’s never played the position on a regular basis as a professional.
Yet, Yost can’t tolerate a .580 OPS from Morales forever. Not with the KC Royals offense holding back the team.