KC Royals fill catching gap with Summer Camp invitees

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

The KC Royals temporarily find themselves without their All-Star catcher and a key backup. Two Summer Camp invitees are filling in.

Suddenly, catchers are at a premium for the KC Royals.

All-Star backstop Salvador Perez, returning from a 2019 season lost to a UCL injury and Tommy John surgery, recently tested positive for COVID-19 and is out indefinitely. Now comes news from The Athletic’s Alec Lewis that Player Pool member and reserve catcher Meibrys Viloria, who’s seen action behind the Royals’ plate the last two seasons, is injured:

So, in the wake of Viloria’s trip to the Injured List, Freddy Fermin and Allan de San Miguel received non-roster player invitations to Kansas City’s Summer Camp. Viloria going on the IL presumably means his status isn’t related to the coronavirus–MLB created a separate COVID-19 IL with no minimum or maximum stays.

Fermin signed with the Royals in mid-2015 and first played with the club’s 2016 Dominican Summer League team and hit .273 in 52 games.

He hit .282 with 39 RBIs in 47 games in Rookie ball the next season, then .249 between Rookie teams Idaho Falls and Burlington in 2018. He played at Class A Lexington and Double A Northwest Arkansas last year and hit a combined .259 with 12 home runs and 41 RBIs in 86 games.

Invited to the Royals pandemic-interrupted spring training this year, Fermin played three times and had one hit in two at-bats.

Fermin, 5-10 and 185 pounds, hails from Venezuela and will be 26 in May.

While KC Royals fans are probably somewhat familiar with Fermin, de San Miguel may be a different story. At 32, he’s more seasoned than his younger teammate; in fact, he’s been a pro since 2005 when the Australian broke in with the Minnesota Twins’ organization. He later joined the Baltimore system, returned to the Twins, and signed with the Royals in 2016.

The veteran backstop has occasional power–his highest professional home run total is seven with Australian Baseball League’s Perth in 2011 and he had six homers between three minor league levels in 2010. Including his Australian time, he has 87 total homers in 15 pro seasons to go with a career .233/.343./.369 slash.

de San Miguel also served as a coach last season with Kansas City’s High A Wilmington club.

Defensively, Fermin is hard on would-be base stealers. He threw out 47% of them between Lexington and Northwest Arkansas last season (including 68% with the Legends). de San Miguel has gunned down 35% in his 15 years.

Don’t expect either addition to the KC camp to begin the season on the club’s active roster. Viloria can come off the IL on July 14, a full 10 days before the club opens on the road in Cleveland; Cam Gallagher is the most likely catcher to start if Perez isn’t ready by then. And the KC Royals already have Nick Dini, MJ Melendez and Sebastian Rivero in camp, all of whom are presumably ahead of Fermin and de San Miguel in the pecking order.

light. Related Story. Sebastian Rivero worth keeping an eye on

That all could change, though, depending on Perez’s recovery time from COVID-19, Viloria’s recuperation, and whether the rest of the catching corps stays healthy. And even when Perez returns, the Royals will probably continue to be somewhat cautious with him; as discussed in this space before spring training began, Perez likely won’t play every day and may see time at first base and designated hitter.

Next. Midweek Musings: Just two weeks to go. dark

The Royals open the 2020 season in just two weeks. Their starting catcher and one backup are temporarily out of action, but they’re adequately stocked at the position for now.