Even if our pitching prospects do come through, where will we find the hitting?
We had a few nice bats in our lineup in 2019. We had three guys with an OPS over .800. We have a shortstop who can hit and shows some true pop. We should also expect a decent bat back with Salvador Perez in 2020.
But, the bottom half of our lineup was beyond awful last season. Our younger guys just did not hit. Ryan O’Hearn struggled and Nicky Lopez looked lost for much of the season. Neither Bubba Starling nor Brett Phillips showed much to give us confidence moving forward.
No matter how good your first 5 bats may be, you cannot survive in today’s Major League Baseball with four guys at the bottom who cannot get their OPS over .600. And I am fine with assuming that a couple of these young guys will turn it around. But, are we really expecting them all to become big league hitters?
And here is the scary part: our minor league hitting prospects almost all took a step back in 2019. Nick Heath kept getting on base, so I am comfortable with his skill set. And the same goes for Khalil Lee. He can get on base. But we see almost no pop in AA or AAA, at the moment.
Gabriel Cancel led our AA team in slugging percentage in 2019, with .427. Our best slugging percentages in Omaha last season were guys like O’Hearn and Cuthbert and Phillips. So, either the guys we already know are going to all start hitting better or we need to bring in some more bats.
No matter how good the pitchers of the 2018 draft ultimately are, someone is still going to need to play corner outfield and first base and be able to hit the ball hard. We need to see some steps forward for our hitters in the minor leagues in 2020. And we need to see some of our young major league guys figure it out as well. If not, the Royals need to get out there and find some bats elsewhere. Even if it means making a trade or spending some real money.