KC Royals option Kyle Isbel; Call up Ryan O’Hearn

(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

The KC Royals have made a move before beginning their four-game series with Detroit.

When the KC Royals started the season, there were likely some surprises on the roster for opening day. One of the biggest surprises, though, may have been that outfielder Kyle Isbel was going to be starting in right field.

He put up impressive numbers in spring training, slashing .333/.420/.548, but due to the lack of a minor league season in 2020, he had never played above A+ ball. He did make great strides at the alternate site camp, but he was untested in the higher levels of the minor leagues.

Still, he got the call-up. Now, though, it seems the Royals want to see him get a little more work and have announced they have optioned him to the alternate training site. To take his place, they have recalled Ryan O’Hearn from the alternate site.

Isbel had done a decent job of holding his own so far. His defense had been what was projected and while his power wasn’t what the Royals had hoped, to this point, he has slashed .265/.306/.324 with 3 RBIs, 1 triple, and 1 stolen base.

The main factor that may have led to Isbel getting optioned, though, is his strikeout rate. He typically floated around 20% in the minors, but so far in 2021, he was at 41.7%.

Isbel was not getting consistent at-bats in the majors and it seems Kansas City thinks he might benefit the most at the alternate site getting to hit every day.

The most interesting part of this set of moves, though, might be the fact that Ryan O’Hearn was the one who was called up.

In Alec’s above tweets, he states that O’Hearn has apparently turned the offense on, but this sounds like something we’ve all heard before. Still, the choice to bring a first baseman up for an outfielder may create some questions.

The Royals are likely looking for an answer to their cold bats and if O’Hearn can bring some needed power, he may be the kick start they need.

O’Hearn saw a good amount of time in 2020, appearing in 42 games and seeing 132 plate appearances. He slashed .195/.303/.301. He is another young batter who struggled with strikeouts, though he sat at 28% in 2020, much lower than Isbel’s current rate.

It should be interesting to see if the Royals plan to move things around to include O’Hearn in the lineup or have him on the bench at first to use as a pinch hitter as needed.

The Royals kick off a stretch of away games tonight, beginning with a four-game series in Detroit. As long as the pitching can hold up and the offense and make some noise, Kansas City should have a good chance to remain at the top of the AL Central.

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The KC Royals have optioned Kyle Isbel to the alternate site and recalled Ryan O’Hearn.