The KC Royals are a team that relies on the success of building prospects. They may have finally figured out how to maximize return.
The KC Royals are not big spenders. Everyone knows this. They, along with plenty of other small-market teams rely on other ways of supplementing their growth such as trades, the draft, development, etc. Even with an increase in spending during this current offseason, there are plenty of larger market teams who will likely outspend them without really trying.
This is why it’s increasingly important for the Royals to find and developed promising prospects. While they made some smart moves for their World Series runs, there was plenty of help from players drafted and developed through the Royals organization, take Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, and Greg Holland for example.
Things don’t always work out as hoped, though. Top prospects struggle with injuries or have trouble translating high school and college success to professional baseball. Some are plugged into lineups with holes or other struggling players, limiting the players’ chances for growth with their team.
Then, there is what happens all too often to small-market teams. A prospect shows success, but before the team can benefit from it, the cost becomes too much and they ship them off to someone who can afford to pay.
The Royals have been victim to all of these scenarios. It’s no surprise that they entered a rebuild, that’s typical for small market teams. But the short success they saw during their World Series runs is something that many had hoped would be lengthened by successful prospects and player development. Unfortunately, the team just wasn’t set up for that.
The tides may be turning a bit, though. The Royal’s willingness to spend some money could change the outlook of their future more than some may realize.
One thing Kansas City has done right over the past few losing seasons is draft quality pitchers. They have a stock of prospect pitchers that runs deep and could provide them with success for the long term.
Not only that, they have a few position prospects who are garnering some interest as well, especially in the outfield.
So, how have the Royals helped these prospects? By changing their attitude and focus. The Royals want to win now and they have shown this by being more aggressive during the offseason. They are ensuring they have established veterans around the field to guide these young prospects through the majors and push them toward success.
Even a top prospect can be hindered by a team that continues to lose and rarely sees successes. The pitching prospects may be the ones who benefit the most, though.
Navigating one’s way through a major league season as part of a starting rotation as a young, inexperienced pitcher is difficult. When you are surrounded by an offense that can score and a defense that can protect you, though, things get a bit easier.
With the addition of Carlos Santana and maybe more to come, the offense automatically gets better. The on-base percentage rises, and if they get a big bat like they want, the power could go through the roof when teamed with players like Jorge Soler, Salvador Perez, and Hunter Dozier.
Brady Singer and Kris Bubic found their way in 2020, but with a solid offense and defense that doesn’t start the season on the wrong foot, their progress in 2021 could be what the Royals need to push them to the top.
The other piece of the puzzle that the Royals may have really figured out is the big “secret,” though it might only have been a secret to the Royals a few other teams.
This “secret” is that small-market teams must have a win-now attitude when the prospects are hot. Dayton Moore and the rest of the organization have shown they might have realized this with their moves and change of pace this offseason.
Small teams like the Royals only have a limited window with prospects. While it’s likely the Royals will find a way to keep some of their pitches around long term, it’s unlikely they will all stay in Kansas City when there will be bigger payouts elsewhere.
Instead of only seeing a year or two of success, winning now and continuing to surround these prospects with winners can ensure success with longevity, not a year or two of winning surrounded by multiple seasons of loss.
Much remains to be seen as the Royals could still make some moves, or go forward with what they have. There are still plenty of questions, such as who will fill the outfield full time, but one thing is clear.
The Royals have changed their attitude and want to win now. While 2021 may still be a year of trial, it seems Kansas City has no desire to waste their prospects and plan to give them what they need, a winning team.
The KC Royals seem to have figured out the secret to maximizing their prospects, surround the young players with veterans and winners, and win before they lose any of them to bigger payouts.