The Kansas City Royals have a first baseman tearing it up in the minor leagues who’s name is not Nick Pratto. And this guy is closer to being MLB ready than Pratto is.
Frank “the tank” Schwindel has been making a name for himself the last few years for the Kansas City Royals. The 26-year-old has been moving up the rankings the last couple years, and while he has been moving he has been mashing the ball.
Since being drafted in the 18th round by the Royals in 2013, Schwindel has a solid slash of .286/.317/.471 with 162 doubles and 92 home runs. In fact, he has hit nearly 20 doubles every year, no matter the level, and over the last five years, he has hit over 30 doubles three times. His home run totals have increased every year as well. In 2017, he hit 23 home runs and so far this year he has 14.
What is most encouraging about Schwindel is his ability to make adjustments and improve at every level. His time in Triple-A has actually been his best of any level he’s been at. So far in Triple-A, Schwindel his hitting .306/.337/.521 with 48 doubles and 31 home runs over 173 games. His sample size isn’t small, yet he is consistently hitting the ball and hitting for power.
Due to having high power numbers, that means another category people pay attention too is struggling.
He is not exactly the most patient of individuals at the plate. Over his career, he has walked only 95 times compared to 401 strikeouts. While he has never struck out 100 times in a year, he does average around 80 strikeouts a year.
However, that does seem to be shifting a bit. This year alone Schwindel has already tied his career high in walks in a year. His 19 walks halfway through the year does show that he is being a bit more patient at the plate. He is also making more contact and is better with pitch selection than in previous years because his strikeout numbers have dropped significantly, only striking out 37 times so far.
If I had to guess, after spending time with the big league roster during Spring Training, where he hit .366/.381/.976 over 21 games and hit seven home runs and four doubles, someone told him he could be a viable big league hitter if he worked on his patience and pitch selection. If someone told him that, Schwindel took it to heart.
Defensively, Schwindel is doing really well, too.
The once-catcher-turned-first baseman has been holding down the fort where ever he goes for a while now. During his time at first base, he has a career fielding percentage of .994% over 366 games and 3,109.2 innings. Since moving from catcher to first base he has improved every year.
Since being promoted to Triple-A, Schwindel has played 81 games and 677.2 innings at first base and has only committed two errors. For a position that has a lot of action in a game, having that type of consistency at first is just what a team wants.
So where does Schwindel fit with the Royals?
This is where it gets interesting. Schwindel is stuck at first base in Omaha until one of two things happens.
- The Royals trade Mike Moustakas and move Hunter Dozier to third base
- The Royals trade Lucas Duda and Schwindel then takes over the role as DH/1B.
Due to the fact that Schwindel hasn’t played catcher since 2015, I don’t see him being a backup catcher. He may be a “just in case” option if anything. With Cam Gallegher and MJ Melendez in the system and Salvador Perez being a tank, Schwindel doesn’t stand much of a chance.
Therefore, one of those two options needs to happen to get Schwindel called up. Going into this season, the Royals had an option to move Schwindel to another position to increase his chances of being called up. Instead, they decided to have him split time with Dozier while he was in Omaha, and move Ryan O’Hearn to the outfield. That shows me that they have confidence in his abilities at first.
I have been on the Schwindel train for the last couple years. He has shown to be a viable defender at first base for the Royals. He also bringing something the team has very little of. Power.
If the Royals make the moves they can and get Schwindel up to the 25-man roster, it will be fun to see how his numbers translate to big league pitching. I think he could be a perfect placeholder at first base until Nick Pratto makes the jump. Once Pratto makes the jump, perhaps Schwindel can move to the DH spot and fill in at first whenever Pratto needs time off.
Schwindel can also provide the Royals with a bit of insurance. If Pratto isn’t able to make the jump, whether that be lack of production or injury, the Royals do have a viable first baseman they can use.
Surprisingly enough too, Schwindel doesn’t even crack the Royals Top-30 prospects this year. With his success, I would have thought he would be somewhere on the list. Keep an eye out too. He will also join Trevor Oaks as representative for the Royals during the Triple-A All-Star Game this year.
Schwindel should get a call-up this year. Whether that be after Duda is traded, or in September when teams can expand their rosters, Schwindel should be on that list.
What do you think Royals fans? Will Schwindel get a chance? Do you think he should? Let us know below!