The KC Royals’ speedy outfield prospect doesn’t have as high of a ceiling as some others, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still carve out a role down the road.
There’s quite a bit of uncertainty going around in regards to both the present and future of the KC Royals’ outfield. With Whit Merrifield and Hunter Dozier shifting to center field and right field, respectively, two spots are taken up. Longtime leader and defensive wizard Alex Gordon has also decided to return for a 14th season.
This leaves the young-but-not-so-young duo of Brett Phillips and Bubba Starling without starting jobs. In a season bound to be filled with overall team struggles, now would’ve been the time to give either or both of them an extended look. Instead, even prospects like Nick Heath and Kyle Isbel are garnering attention to supplant them by the end of the year.
Michael Gigliotti figures to fit into the club’s plans in a year or two, but there are some question marks. Despite having a knack for stealing a ton of bases and playing good defense in center field, the 2017 fourth-round pick doesn’t offer a ton at the plate. He returned from a torn ACL to hit .282 last season but has just six home runs in his minor league career to date.
MLB Pipeline ranked Gigliotti as the KC Royals’ No. 12 prospect a season ago, but that ranking dropped all the way to 24 in February of this year. He was one of the biggest fallers among those in the farm system but still has the chance to become a contributor at the MLB level one day. His projected ETA to Kauffman Stadium is 2021. Here are some possible outcomes for him:
Gigliotti continues to be a menace on the basepaths, stealing something in the neighborhood of 40 bags and making highlight-reel plays in center field. The difference in this scenario is that some of his line drives turn into home runs. This would be a completely new layer added to his game that would not only accelerate his path to the MLB, but it’d significantly raise his ceiling as a player. Gigliotti debuts in 2021 and makes a good first impression.
Speed and defense are nice but for an outfielder, if you can’t hit, you aren’t going to be very valuable. Phillips and Starling know this firsthand. They’re facing career crossroads in 2020 as a result of their poor performance at the plate to date. In this scenario, Gigliotti struggles with Double-A pitching and is thrust into AAA in hopes that he can figure things out. He can’t, resulting in any playing time he gets at The K years from now being on a reserve/pinch-run basis.
Most likely outcome:
Gigliotti doesn’t have the ceiling a lot of other KC Royals prospects have. He’s never going to be much of a power hitter and although his approach at the plate is respectable, it leaves some to be desired. With that said, he brings decent value as a defender and a base-stealing threat. Seeing him become a fourth outfielder at the MLB level one day wouldn’t be much of a surprise.
With how many prospects the organization has flowing through the system right now, that would work out just fine if it were the case.