This KC Royals outfield prospect is showing he is close to seeing time in the major leagues.
Between now and Opening Day, the Kings of Kauffman writers are analyzing how various KC Royals performed last season and predicting how they might fare this year. Up today is outfielder Kyle Isbel.
The KC Royals have a way with outfielders. They typically have more than they need and they never fail to plug someone else into the outfield in the minors, just to give them some added versatility.
Whether Rusty Kuntz and his well-known outfield coaching has something to do with this, or it’s some other factor, the Royals can typically boast a well-defended outfield. While they have employed a group of veterans to take the reigns this year, one prospect may find his way to the majors sooner rather than later. This prospect is Kyle Isbel.
Isbel is currently the 5th ranked prospect in the Royals system and is their top-ranked outfield prospect. He was drafted by the Royals in the 3rd round of the 2018 draft from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and since then has been making outstanding plays in the outfield.
While that is Kyle Isbel diving for the ball, it does look familiar to all of the plays fans saw out of a left-field Gold Glover for many years in Kansas City.
Isbel saw success in his first round of professional baseball in 2018. Between rookie and Single-A ball, he slashed .326/.389/.504 with 7 home runs and 22 doubles over 64 games.
In 2019, he saw some time at rookie ball again but moved up to A+. Between the two, he slashed .233/.296/.397 with 7 home runs and 9 doubles over 59 games. While his numbers dropped, he was also dealing with hamstring injuries that set him back, though he still showed some good tools and looked to be on track to keep moving.
Unfortunately, with the loss of the 2020 minor league season, Isbel lost his chance at continuing through the minor leagues. Luckily, he was placed at the Royals alternate site camp to get some work. He continued to make good progress and while it’s difficult to replace what actual games can provide, he showed in spring training that he was continuing to fight for his spot.
In spring training, Isbel has slashed .345/.429/.621 over 18 games and has added 2 home runs and 2 doubles. Of course, spring training stats should be taken lightly, but it’s nice to see him producing and building that confidence that he can take into the minor leagues this season.
Isbel was one of the prospects that some thought could break camp with the club and finally get some major league time, but he was resigned officially on Monday, along with top prospect Brobby Witt Jr.
Still, Isbel has left an impression on many.
There are no easy projections to follow as he has not had any major league time, but seeing his production in spring and how happy the Royals are with him, it’s easy to think he could see his time come sooner rather than later.
The Royals have a stocked outfield right now, but with a couple of possible trade pieces and 1-year contracts currently on the books, the need for a call-up could come quickly. There are others who may see the call, but Isbel has made a strong case to be towards the top of that list.
His 2021 season will likely be spent starting in Double-A though it would not be surprising to see him in Triple-A as well. Kansas City is going to want to see how he can produce against the higher levels. If he can retain his production from spring training, it wouldn’t be out of the question to expect him in the majors in late 2021 or opening day 2022.
Kyle Isbel is everything the Royals love in an outfielder. He’s quick, he has good reads and jumps on the ball, and he’s not afraid to make the diving catch. Paired with his ability to hit for some power at a decent average, Isbel could be the next outfield star in Kansas City.
Kyle Isbel will start his season in the minors, but he is one of the prospects that fans should keep an eye on as they may see him in Kansas City soon.