He may look younger than his 21 years and he’s short on professional baseball experience, but Bobby Witt Jr. is the most talked about prospect in the rejuvenated farm system of the KC Royals. Already a multi-millionaire thanks to the reported $7,789,900 bonus he signed with Kansas City for being the second overall pick in the 2019 draft, there isn’t any baseball thing he doesn’t do well.
Deservedly crowned Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year (the highest of Witt’s several 2021 awards), Witt is the quintessential five-tool player, as can’t-miss as can’t-miss can be.
But becoming the toast of the town when he gets to town may be a heavy lift for Witt.
That’s because Patrick Mahomes, the spectacular quarterback of the Royals’ joint Truman Sports Complex tenant Chiefs, is already there. Mahomes’ status as the toast of Kansas City is undisputed—he’s its football magician who’s led the Chiefs to two straight Super Bowls and the 2020 title.
Witt won’t displace Mahomes, but he may become the QB’s baseball equal because he seems as talented at his game as Mahomes is at his. That both can coexist peacefully in sports-crazy Kansas City is a foregone conclusion considering the unassuming nature and humility they share. And Mahomes is, after all, a part-owner of the Royals.
First, however, Witt has to get to the city clamoring for his presence.
Expectations will be huge when Bobby Witt Jr. first joins the KC Royals.
That he’ll have much to live up to when the Royals call him up is an absolute for Witt. Not since the club drafted Bubba Starling in 2011 have Kansas City fans more intensely anticipated the arrival of a first-round pick. The son and namesake of former big league pitcher Bobby Witt, he slashed an astonishing .491/.561/1.017 in three seasons at Coffeyville Heritage (Texas) High, then passed on playing college ball at Oklahoma to sign with the Royals.
He turned heads primarily by reputation in 37 post-draft games in Rookie ball—his .262 average and one home run weren’t the stuff of top draft picks. He spent the 2020 season in the obscurity of Kansas City’s Alternate Training Site, but exploded in 2021, slashing .290/.361/.575 with 33 homers and 97 RBIs across Double-A and Triple-A. But the Royals resisted the opportunity to make him a September call-up.
Now, only time, or a 2022 spring training slump so profound that the club starts him in the minors, separates Witt from Kauffman Stadium. Such a slump is unlikely, so Witt should make the Opening Day roster.
And that’s when Kansas City will begin to find out if Witt can live up to advance billing, and if comparing him to Mahomes is fair.
Chances are good he’ll meet expectations. Witt doesn’t present as the type to choke when he gets to The Show, and his skills are so advanced and complete that his can’t-miss tag itself can’t miss. If so, Witt likely becomes the Royals’ Mahomes, so marvelously gifted that he regularly makes a difference in games.
And that, of course, will be worth the short wait for his services.
Bobby Witt Jr. will undoubtedly join the Royals next season. He could very well mean to them what Patrick Mahomes means to the Chiefs.