Finding hidden diamonds is something every franchise tries to do. Last year, the KC Royals found one in the New York Yankees organization.
In August of the 2019 season, the KC Royals made a trade with the New York Yankees to acquire Ryan McBroom for international money. When looking at what McBroom can contribute to a big-league organization, it’s hard to imagine that the Royals could get a player like this for just international money.
However, this isn’t a player the Royals randomly found within the Yankees organization. McBroom was actually drafted in the 36th Round by the Kansas City Royals back in 2013 but decided to return to West Virginia for one more year. This proved to pay dividends for the Royals, as they seemed to keep an eye on McBroom throughout the years.
The 2020 MLB Draft has come and gone, and while it was an unusual draft, the emotions of the draft and being drafted are still the same. When asking McBroom what the feeling is like, he replied, “The draft for myself and most players is super exciting knowing your life is about to change, but at the same time very nerve-wracking because nothing is promised.”
Baseball might be one of the most unsure sports to be drafted into because of how long it can take to make it to the big leagues. While some teams have minor leagues or developmental leagues, baseball is the only sport that has at least eight levels some players have to work through.
While you could be having great success throughout those levels, sometimes you don’t get your call or you could be traded to a different team. McBroom was no exception to this.
McBroom had plenty of minor league success before becoming a member of the KC Royals:
After being drafted in the 15th Round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2014, McBroom started having immediate success. Through his first three years, working his way to Double-A, McBroom was hitting .291/.349/.475 with 88 doubles and 45 home runs.
The solid minor league numbers made him appealing to teams outside of Toronto, resulting in him getting traded to the New York Yankees in 2017 for Rob Refsnyder. McBroom picked up right where he left off in Toronto’s organization, hitting .308/.375/.569 from 2018-2019.
Knowing what we do about how Dayton Moore and the KC Royals operate, McBroom having this type of success made him a desired player to them and one they feel fits well within the Royals organization.
The KC Royals finally reunited with their guy:
With the new rules implemented last year when it comes to trading players, the Royals being able to get a player like McBroom based on his offensive production, and his versatility on the field is hard to imagine. But that’s just what the Royals were able to do. After trading for McBroom, the Royals immediately had him join the big-league roster. On September 3rd, the former Royals’ draft pick made his MLB debut in 2019.
"“I always felt a connection with the organization since that day in 2013. It felt right to end up here.”"
McBroom got to experience two separate emotions at one time as a professional. One making his MLB debut, and the other being the fact that he joined a new club, not knowing people. It’s every baseball player’s dream to make it to the big-leagues, so keeping emotions under control can be difficult at times.
"“Oh definitely. But honestly, the most emotional part was coming into a clubhouse not knowing anybody and playing in front of coaches and front office guys that didn’t know me personally. It’s obvious that it didn’t last long because the group of guys in uniform and running this organization are second to none and I’ve been around a little bit.”"
Consistency and versatility are both desirable traits to the KC Royals:
McBroom didn’t waste any time taking advantage of his major league chance. Similar to his success in the minors, McBroom picked up where he left off in Triple-A. Over his first 23 professional games, he slashed a .293/.361/.360 with only five doubles. While the power didn’t shine immediately, it was hard to imagine it not becoming part of his game again.
His spring training numbers began showing that power we all know is there. Before the shutdown, McBroom was hitting .314/.368/.657 with three doubles and three home runs over 15 games. While his offensive numbers have been consistently impressive, what always makes the KC Royals’ front-office interested in a player is his defensive versatility. McBroom has had playing time at first base, right field, and left field throughout his entire professional career. Even better is the fact that he is solid defensively at all three positions too.
"“Anywhere I’m in the lineup and can help my team win that day is where I want to be. No doubt. I feel comfortable at all 3 positions.”"
With the Royals, McBroom has spent more time in the outfield, which could be where he finds most of his playing time based on outfield depth with the Royals. However, the fact that he can hold down all the positions and not miss a beat is going to help the Royals have success, and keep the offensive success he brings in the lineup.
McBroom looks up to other players currently on the KC Royals:
When you reach the top of the league, work ethic and mentality is what keeps you there. The way the leaders in a clubhouse function create impacts on younger players and change the mentality of a clubhouse. Fans always hear about how some players have a crazy work ethic, but hearing and seeing are two different things.
"“Craziest work ethic I’ve seen is Alex Gordon. He has a strict routine and sticks to it every day. First one in last one out usually. But everyone at the major league level works differently than anything I’ve ever seen. His definitely stands out though.”“Definitely love watching Whit approach the game. Day in and day out that guy brings the confidence and belief in himself to play at the highest level. That type of energy and swag is extremely contagious.”"
Making it to the MLB level requires a solid work ethic and a strong mental mindset, having players like Alex Gordon and Whit Merrifield, who have had great success at the big-league level, in the clubhouse can only help strengthen a clubhouse overall.
But simply working out isn’t always enough to stay sharp, especially in these unprecedented times. Since the shutdown, players have had to find different ways of working out and staying game-ready than ever before. So what has McBroom been doing? “I’m up early, every day. Getting better both physically and mentally. Getting my on-field and gym work in constantly but also taking care of my mental through reading and meditation.”
While staying physically ready is important, as the great Yogi Berra once said: “Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.” It’s easy to lose the mental strength a typical season grind can build for a player when there is no season. Therefore, players have to do what McBroom is doing and find other ways to stay mentally sharp.
I had to ask…
It almost seems like a form of initiation for any athlete in Kansas City. If there is one thing people in KC take significant pride in, it’s BBQ foods. So the question had to be asked: What’s Ryan McBroom’s favorite BBQ restaurant in Kansas City?
He made the right call, in my opinion. “I haven’t been to too many BBQ spots yet but one I really like is Q39.” While it requires a reservation hours in advance, the meat is worth every minute. And while Kansas City has many different BBQ joints people can go to, Q39 is probably the best of them all.
Which leads to another vital question. One that may be the most divisive food question you could ask someone: Bone-in or boneless wings? “Bone-in all day!! Flats to be exact.” So all you bone-in fans out there, you can add another name to your list.
Going into this season, I was a big advocate for Ryan McBroom to be the starting first baseman for the Royals. The power is there, the defensive ability is there, and the versatility and being comfortable anywhere on the field is there. With the type of spring training McBroom was having, it’s hard to say he doesn’t deserve a chance starting full-time at first base, or even right field.
His offensive numbers aren’t a fluke, either. He’s been consistent at every level, with three separate organizations. And the fact that he was able to make his debut after being traded, and still have the success he had, shows that his work on keeping himself mentally strong is paying off.
McBroom is doing all the right things. He’s building upon an already strong culture with the Royals, learning from some of the best players the franchise has ever had, proving to be a team player and is willing to play wherever the team needs him, and then going out on the field and producing.
When baseball starts back up again, I believe Ryan McBroom deserves to have a spot in the lineup every day. What do you think, KC Royals Nation?