Could one of the KC Royals’ top prospects be in Kansas City Opening Day?
When the KC Royals open the 2021 season at home April 1 against Texas, count on Brady Singer and Kris Bubic being there to begin their second big league seasons. Both made their debuts last year and everything points to them keeping their jobs.
Two rookies starting the season with Kansas City, though, isn’t the norm; the Royals prefer to carefully nurture their prospects and bring them to the big club only when they’re ready. There have been exceptions, most notably Adalberto Mondesi’s improbable debut in the 2015 World Series that arose more from the team’s specific need for the kind of speed Terrance Gore could provide, and the better bat and defense he couldn’t, than it did Mondesi’s ultimate readiness.
The Royals, of course, aren’t saying just when their hottest prospects—Bobby Witt Jr., Asa Lacy, and Daniel Lynch—will arrive, but chances are the club isn’t going to start a second straight season with rookies on the roster.
But it could happen. After only a short Rookie ball stint in 2019 and a 2020 spent at the Royals’ alternate training site as a Player Pool member, Witt is, by all accounts, tantalizingly close to being major league ready and could force his way onto the 26-man roster with a superb spring, especially if versatile third baseman Hunter Dozier is suddenly needed somewhere else. The Royals need every good bat they can get, and a sizzling Witt could provide it.
The lefthanded Lynch probably has a better chance than Witt to break camp with Kansas City. Although he has only two seasons of professional experience and joined Witt on the Player Pool, he owns a glittering 11-3, 2.50 ERA record in 32 minor league starts. He could well be first man up if Bubic needs more time in the minors, injury strikes the rotation this spring, or Danny Duffy moves to the pen before Opening Day. Lynch might even make it on his own merit. Pitching in the majors like he has in the minors would be a boost to a team wanting to win now.
Lacy, whose experience consists solely of his Player Pool time (KC added him in mid-August), is the least likely to make the jump from spring camp to the majors, although he might get to Kauffman Stadium late in the season. Only if a starter isn’t ready or the Royals let one or two go, and Lynch doesn’t step in, will Lacy have a realistic shot at Opening Day. Going north with the Royals would be a huge surprise.
Another player acquisition, position player flops, and rookies finding their way onto the Opening Day roster are all unlikely to happen. But any one of them occurring could be a game changer for the KC Royals.