We’re one week away from Sept. 1, when big league teams can expand their active rosters. And with Major League Baseball changing its rules, clubs can no longer enlarge those rosters to 40 players—now, only two players may be added to current 26-man rosters. Fans, of course, are speculating who the KC Royals might call up.
Most Kansas City fans may be casting their eyes on Bobby Witt Jr. and Nick Pratto, the No.1 and No. 4 KC prospects per MLB Pipeline. To many, picking them should be a no-brainer. Witt and Pratto are deserving of a call-up—both have been tearing it up in the minors all season.
Although the two top prospects are playing at a high level, a few more familiar faces might warrant consideration.
The KC Royals could bring up players we’ve already seen to fill the roster.
Edward Olivares’ 2021 roller-coaster ride might not be over if the Royals are willing to bring him back up. Some might say Kansas City isn’t fully committed to him given his frequent shifts between the majors and minors. But there’s no denying Olivares has shown promise at both levels so far.
He’s slashed .298/.370/.524 with a .894 OPS at Omaha with 13 home runs, 29 RBIs, and 12 stolen bases. In 20 games with the Royals, Olivares has a .246/.283/.456 line with four homers and six RBIs. If brought up again, Olivares could strengthen his case by getting ample playing time and proving he could be a potential fixture in the outfield.
Speaking of the outfield, another player KC could bring up is Kyle Isbel.
Isbel was with the club most of April before being optioned to Omaha. He hit .265/.306/.324 with a .629 OPS in 12 games with Kansas City. Although he’s hitting .263, his other Omaha numbers are better than his small major league sample—he has a .359 OBP, is slugging .418, has a .777 OPS and .316 BABIP, and 10 home runs, 43 RBIs, and 41 walks.
Certainly, both Isbel and Olivares could vie for a spot in the outfield, as they’ve already shown a sample of what they can they do in The Show.
The KC Royals could also decide to give a starting pitcher another shot.
Jackson Kowar was on top of the world in early June when he was 5-0 with a miniscule 0.85 ERA, 40 strikeouts, and an OBA of .165 in six Triple-A starts. But a subsequent call to Kansas City was absolutely disastrous—Kowar was 0-2 with an 18.00 ERA in just five innings. Since being sent back to Omaha, he’s tried to regain his form.
Of the 10 games Kowar has appeared in since his demotion, one that stands out is his most recent one (Aug. 21) when he pitched six innings, recorded nine strikeouts, and allowed only two hits and no runs for a win.
Kowar’s current minor league stats reflect promise. Although his ERA has spiked to 3.45, he’s still managed to record a 1.26 WHIP, 108 strikeouts, and 34 walks in 75.2 innings with the Storm Chasers.
Recalling Kowar this season might end up mirroring the success the Royals have had with Daniel Lynch, who struggled in his first call-up to the majors, returned to the minors, and has now made immense improvement since his recall.
If the KC Royals chose to bring up a pitcher along with a position player, Kowar could be an intriguing choice, especially to see if he’s able to adjust to the majors his second time around.
With September just around the corner, the KC Royals can think about adding two more players to round out a 28-man roster. Although Bobby Witt Jr. and Nick Pratto are on everyone’s radar, some other familiar names bear watching.