A trio of promising KC Royals find themselves stuck in the minor leagues.
Talented Nick Heath, Edward Olivares and Kelvin Gutierrez are working at the Alternate Training Site and will find themselves in Omaha next month for one simple reason—there’s no room for them in Kansas City.
Until the Royals signed Michael A. Taylor, traded for Andrew Benintendi, and brought back Jarrod Dyson, and Kyle Isbel developed so rapidly, Heath’s name regularly popped up in discussions about the Kansas City outfield. And with good reason—he’s fast, has a serviceable glove, knows how to get on base and steal them (.348 OBP and 160 stolen bases in four minor league seasons), and can handle the bat. But the acquisitions of Taylor, Benintendi and Dyson, and Isbel’s promotion to the majors, mean the Royals have all the outfielders they need.
Will Heath remain blocked? Maybe not. Isbel started fast, but went 0-for-4 in Monday’s loss to the Angels and is hitless in five of his last six games; major league pitchers tend to catch up to rookies, and Isbel is trying to make the improbable jump from High-A to the big leagues. And Dyson isn’t likely to stay on the roster for the entire season. Time will tell.
The outfield logjam also traps Edward Olivares, who came to the Royals in last August’s trade that sent Trevor Rosenthal to San Diego. Olivares was a hit in KC, batting .274 with two homers in 18 games, and drove in four runs in nine spring contests. But he fell victim to the narrow outfield numbers game.
Gutierrez is also blocked by an offseason signing. His prospects to start this season as Kansas City’s backup infielder were exceptional until the Royals inked major league veteran (and more versatile) Hanser Alberto, who immediately became the favorite for the job. The club selected Alberto’s contract the day spring training ended. KC is high on Gutierrez, though, and expect him to be recalled if Alberto is injured or has to take over a position full time.
(Other notables at the ATS include pitching prospects Daniel Lynch and Jackson Kowar, catcher Sebastian Rivero and infielder-outfielder Erick Mejia).
The KC Royals have some big names playing at their Alternate Training Site. They’ll be there until the minor league season begins.