KC Royals: Looking for Long Shots

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Mar 9, 2015; Jupiter, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox third baseman Garin Cecchini (70) at bat against the St. Louis Cardinals during a spring training baseball game at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 9, 2015; Jupiter, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox third baseman Garin Cecchini (70) at bat against the St. Louis Cardinals during a spring training baseball game at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /
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Since trading for Jorge Soler, the Royals have signed a series of players to minor league deals. Here’s a look at who might actually have a shot at making the team’s 25-man roster.

The Royals’ offseason moves have been … interesting.

Since trading closer Wade Davis to the Cubs for right fielder Jorge Soler, Kansas City has done little more than take long-shot flyers in the form of minor league deals on former big leaguers looking for one last shot, a Mexican League standout and a 36-year-old infielder who will probably be a coach before the 2017 season is over.

Here’s a quick look at the players who have the best shot at actually making the Royals’ Opening Day 25-man roster.

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Garin Cecchini, 26 years old, 3B/LF

Once a top prospect for the Red Sox, Cecchini spent all of last season with Milwaukie’s Triple-A club in Colorado Springs, hitting .271 with a .325 on-base percentage and 21 doubles, 5 home runs and 13 steals in 126 games. Boston cut ties with him after an awful 2015 campaign in which he slashed .213/.286/.296 for Triple-A Pawtucket over 117 games.

Cecchini, a fourth round pick in the 2010 draft, shot up prospect lists after strong minor league seasons in 2013 and 2014. In 2013, he led all of minor league baseball with a .434 on-base percentage while hitting .322 over 129 games in Double A and High A. He followed that up with a .263 average and a .341 OBP  in 114 games with Pawtucket in 2014. Playing in the Red Sox’s system, he drew comparisons to Wade Boggs as a line-drive hitter with a patient approach at the plate.

So what happened in 2015?

According to the Boston Globe, the left-handed hitting Cecchini began trying to pull the ball more looking for more power. His strikeouts rose, his walks dropped and opposite-field line drives began to turn into ground outs to second base.

Having spent significant time at first, third and in left field, Cecchini could make the Royals’ roster as a super utility man with a knack for getting on base.

Bobby Parnell, 32, RHP

In 2013, Parnell saved 22 games for the Mets, posting a 2.16 ERA over 50 innings.

Things haven’t gone so well since.

Parnell had Tommy John surgery in 2014 and has struggled to regain his form. He made 30 mostly unmemorable appearances for the Mets in 2015, recording a 6.38 ERA in 24 innings of work. Never a swing-and-miss pitcher, Parnell struck out just 13 batters in 2015. He spent most of last year closing for the Tigers’ Triple-A club in Toledo, earning 12 saves over 43.1 innings with a 3.95 ERA.

Parnell increased his average fastball velocity up to 94 MPH last season, one mile per hour faster than in 2015, suggesting he’s still building back strength from his surgery. He’s a long shot, but he could add depth to the Royals’ bullpen.

Ruben Sosa, 26, OF/2B

At the very least, Sosa is the best story on this list.

An average minor leaguer for Houston, who selected him in the 23rd round of the 2011 draft out of NAIA Oklahoma City University, Sosa hit .261 with a .365 OBP over five seasons for various Astros farm teams.

But last season, playing for Laguna in the Mexican League, the 5-foot-7 Sosa put Jose Altuve-like numbers hitting .371 with a league-leading .458 OBP. (Note, 64 players who qualified for the batting title in the notoriously offense-friendly Mexican League hit .300 or better in 2016.) Sosa spent all his time in center field for Laguna, but played 54 games at second base in the minors.

Next: Cheap Sluggers Still Available

A young 26 – he won’t be 27 until September – Sosa could be a potential fourth outfielder if the Royals end up trading Dyson and/or Cain.

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