It wasn’t the major league debut for two of the club’s hottest prospects KC Royals fans are eager to see. Nor was it the spectacular introduction to the highest minor league level Omaha fans hoped for.
But the first Triple-A game Bobby Witt Jr. and Nick Pratto played certainly wasn’t a disaster.
A long time coming—Witt, MLB Pipeline’s No. 1 Kansas City prospect, and Pratto, ranked fifth by Pipeline, had been battering Double-A pitching for weeks while calls for their promotion to the next level permeated social media—the players’ introduction to better pitching Monday suggests they’re comfortable with the move.
Witt started at shortstop and Pratto at first base for the Storm Chasers, and they batted back-to-back with Witt second and Pratto third in the lineup. And although Omaha lost 6-4 in 10 innings to St. Paul, the two newest Chasers didn’t embarrass themselves.
That their change in surroundings didn’t awe Witt or Pratto was obvious in the first inning. Witt rapped a one-out single and scored on a wild pitch, while Pratto’s plate patience paid off with a full-count walk.
Both struck out in the third, but Witt singled in the fifth while Pratto flied out to left.
Then, after Witt grounded out in the seventh, Pratto lined his first pitch into center for a single and his first Triple-A hit. He scored on Sebastian Rivero’s single.
Witt flied out to bring Omaha’s scoreless eighth inning to a close.
In their final at-bats, Pratto earned his second full-count bases on balls of the game in the ninth, and Witt’s fly out in the 10th ended the contest.
Witt finished 2-for-6 and scored a run; Pratto had a hit in three official at-bats, earned his two walks and, like Witt, scored once.
It’s only one game, but what’s next for these two hot KC Royals prospects?
Witt and Pratto waited a long time to move up. Their fans did, too, and probably weren’t disappointed with what they saw Monday.
Now, Witt and Pratto must continue what they started this season at Northwest Arkansas, and showed some signs Monday of continuing in Omaha, if they want to soon make it to Kansas City. Performing well with the Storm Chasers is obviously their ticket.
The first to reach Kauffman Stadium will probably be Witt. He’ll need a place to play, of course, and that may be shortstop if Adalberto Mondesi remains injury prone. Third base is also an option, but would require Hunter Dozier to shift permanently to the outfield. And his athleticism alone makes center field realistic, especially if the KC Royals choose not to re-sign Michael A. Taylor.
Roster space might also be available for Pratto before long. Although some teams could use first baseman Carlos Santana down the stretch, Kansas City probably isn’t keen on trading him until at least next year when he’ll be 36 and playing out the final season of his present two-year deal. But if the Royals choose to move him for some prospects before the July 30 trade deadline, will they promote Pratto?
It’s unlikely. Because Pratto needs to see more Triple-A pitching, the Royals are more prone to play Ryan O’Hearn, or even Ryan McBroom (who they recalled from Omaha Monday) at first until Pratto is more seasoned. Next year, though, could be a much different story.
Bobby Witt Jr. and Nick Pratto made their first Triple-A starts Monday. It will be interesting to see how soon they tempt the KC Royals to promote them to the majors.