There are players on the KC Royals roster that are being overlooked. Here are a few players I expect to pleasantly surprise us in 2020.
1. Nick Heath, OF
Nick Heath has been overlooked his entire baseball career. Coming out of Junction City High School he was not considered a Division I prospect and he was certainly not someone the KC Royals had their eyes on. When the head coach at Coffeyville Community College got a position with Northwestern State (Louisiana) he took his 135-pound outfield recruit with him.
Nick would redshirt as a freshman in college. He was on no one’s radar. Then through 155 games in three years of college, he maintained an on-base percentage of .365 and stole 75 bases. It was just enough to get him drafted in the 16th round by the KC Royals.
Nick Heath has now grown into a 6’1 290-pound center fielder that covers everything. He is good enough in centerfield that when he was called up to Omaha last year they moved Brett Phillips to a corner spot in order to allow Heath to stay in center. That is enough to convince me. The video below should instill confidence in his defensive abilities moving forward.
Nick Heath has now had more than 1300 plate appearances in the minor leagues with an on-base base percentage of .348. He has been incredibly consistent throughout his professional career in hitting around .260 and getting on base in more than a third of his plate appearances. And when he gets on base, he steals the next one. Through 323 minor league games, he has stolen 160 bases.
By all accounts, Nick Heath can play centerfield right now for the KC Royals. He strikes out more than you would like to see for center fielder that prioritizes on-base percentage. But, again, his walk rate for Omaha was over seventeen percent. He gets on base. He terrifies pitchers and catchers once he gets on base. And he catches everything in centerfield.
Does he sound a lot like another left-handed-hitting center fielder that once played for the KC Royals? A guy with the last name of Dyson? Yes, he does. Dyson never really got enough of a chance to prove he could be an everyday on-base guy. I, for one, am hoping the kid from Junction City gets his chance. I expect him to surprise some people if he does. And his first opportunity should be early and often this season.