The KC Royals top prospect has been turning heads, but he still needs time to grow.
The KC Royals plan is to be better in 2021. While this is typically the plan for every team in baseball, or it at least should be, the Royals have done more than usual during this past offseason to prove they want to win.
They have been giving out extensions, making trades, and singing some better-known free agents, all things that are typically uncharacteristic of their offseason activities.
Now, the change has been seen in spring training. Of course, spring training numbers should always be taken very lightly as they have very little if any indication of what the regular season will look like. Still, things have been going well for the Royals.
They have been smashing the ball, getting on base, playing stellar defense, and while some of the pitchers have had bad days, there have also been plenty of positives on the mound to talk about.
One of the main bright spots, though, has been top prospect Bobby Witt Jr. He has been putting on a show both offensively and defensively, showing why he’s a top prospect. He has slashed .289/.325/.526, adding 3 home runs and 7 RBI’s in 40 plate appearances.
While many may have assumed he would find his place in Kansas City for opening day, some reports came out over the weekend that he was being reassigned to Minor Leauge Camp. Today, the Royals officially confirmed the move.
It’s likely unpopular with many, but this is the right move for the Royals.
To date, Witt Jr. has played in 37 professional games at the rookie level. Between those and spring training, he has done well to prove that he is deserving of being a top prospect. Even so, he needs more time.
It’s difficult for any player, even one as talented as Witt Jr. to make the jump from the minors to the majors, especially when they haven’t even played at the Single-A level. Making this jump too early can cause setbacks for players, only to see them sent back to the minors.
Would this happen with Witt Jr.? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s not worth the risk. He is only 20 years old and there is plenty of time for him to get some work in the minors. While he has been outstanding in spring training, but that’s not the best judgement for how he will produce in the regular season.
Spring training, while a good time to see how players are performing, is also a good time to see who isn’t and what needs to be worked on. Pitchers often work on secondary pitches and get roughed up while doing so. It’s also normal to see prospects and non-roster invites getting some playing time and still trying to figure things out.
This isn’t to say that Witt’s success is spring training a fluke, he’s very obviously an outstanding player who should be up sooner rather than later. But it could account for some of his success against major league pitchers that he saw, and his offensive success as a whole.
When it comes down to it, while there are plenty of reasons to keep Witt on the roster for the regular season, there are just as many to send him down to get some work.
He needs time to progress and show that he can maintain his success at each level, likely starting with Double-A. He needs to be able to work without the pressure of the major leagues for a while and get the feel for professional games other than rookie level and spring training.
If he lights everyone up in Double-A or Triple-A, then bring him back up. But for now, it’s smart for the Royals to allow him to develop without being rushed.
Cody Tapp had some good statements from Dayton Moore on the subject that show where the Royals thought process was.
The Royals are sticking with the players they had already planned on for the start of the 2021 season. If something doesn’t work out, Witt Jr. will likely be one of the first in line to get his chance. For now, though, he’s going to be able to work on new positions and get some work without pressure to help the Royals wherever and whenever they may need him most.
Witt Jr. may have been moved down for now, but it likely won’t be long before he is seen in the majors. The youth movement started last year in Kansas City, and it’s likely to keep going.