As a Kansas City Royals fan, I watched a Lexington Legends game from last season, and it was wonderful!
I found a full game on YouTube during the 2018 season of the Kansas City Royals Class A affiliate Lexington Legends playing the Hagerstown Suns.
The game was from August 23rd. Jackson Kowar started the game for the Legends and was followed by Garrett Davila. Kyle Isbel, Nick Pratto, MJ Melendez, and Brewer Hicklen all played that night. Even though the Legends lost the game 3 to 2, there was a lot to see.
Kyle the balance master entertained the crowd balancing everything people handed him. Being Dog Night, a dog replaced the bat boy. A man in a chicken costume won a prize, and even some good baseball took place. Don’t you just love baseball at minor league parks! It’s one thing to study a players statistics, but watching them play the game tells you so much more.
Jackson Kowar was dominant. He pitched three innings, gave up no hits or walks and struck out six. His fastball was mostly between 92 to 95 but reached 97 at times. It was his off speed stuff that was making batters look silly. Lots of swings and misses. If he pitches in 2019 anything near as good as he looked this night, he could pitch in Kansas City this year.
Brewer Hicklen got a hit, stole second and third and scored on a double. His speed is real. The catcher didn’t even make a throw on the steal of second. Hicklen was already at the base when the ball arrived on his steal of third. He made a nice running catch in left center from his center field position too, showing off his speed on the defensive side as well.
MJ Melendez got two hits; one was a double. He looked good behind the plate as well. He made a couple of snap throws to first behind the runner. They didn’t lead to an out, but his throws were right on the money. Early in the game, with Kowar on the mound, he let a couple of pitches get past him. As the game went on, he cleaned that up and made several blocks on balls in the dirt. Overall he had a good game.
Nick Pratto got a hit and a walk. He made some good plays at first. He had to leave the bag to catch a wide throw and still almost tagged the runner. If the minor leagues had replay, that call might have been overturned. It seemed to me his swing is a little long and that slows down his bat speed. He attempted to steal second, but the ball beat him there with time to spare. Let’s just say speed is not one of Pratto’s best skills.
Kyle Isbel got a base hit and drove the ball hard a couple of other times. He tried to make an Alex Gordon type of catch, diving on his chest. The ball went into his glove, but bounced out when he hit the ground. Had he caught it, it would have prevented the Hagerstown Suns from their first score.
The end of the game was a typical Royals style formula. A infield hit, an error and a blooper got the bases loaded with no one out. However the Legends only got one run across, and lost the game. The game was well-played, and the talent better than I would have expected for a low A ball game.
Kowar, Hicklen, and Melendez really impressed me. Kowar and Hicklen are probably more advanced in their development. I could see them getting to the big leagues next year. Melendez is not far behind, but Pratto looks like he needs a little more work and experience before he makes it to the big leagues.
Overall, I like the look of the next generation of Kansas City Royals. They honestly played at a much higher level than I expected. It was nice to watch a baseball game again.