The KC Royals need a couple of top prospects to come through in 2022.
Kansas City will open spring camp with one infield hole, and may break camp with another.
The existing hole exists at third base, where several Royals took turns last season, including Adalberto Mondesi when he returned from his second oblique injury. Chances are he or MLB Pipeline’s No. 1 KC prospect Bobby Witt Jr. will start there Opening Day; Witt may have the edge, but Manager Mike Matheny will find a spot for him sooner or later if he doesn’t.
First base is the other potential vacancy—although Carlos Santana has one year left on his contract, slugging prospect Nick Pratto may compel the Royals to try trading Santana when the lockout ends, during spring camp, early in the campaign, or at the trade deadline. Regardless of its timing, though, a Santana move is all but a certainty.
So it is that Witt and Pratto, heirs apparent to Kansas City’s infield corners, must succeed when they arrive. They’re too critical to the Royals’ future not to. There are no immediate options to turn to at third unless Mondesi stays injury-free or Hunter Dozier’s bat and glove improve enough to enable his return to the hot corner; Dozier could also play first, but the Royals need more offense from him if he’s to play every day.
Best case is, of course, that Witt and Pratto are as successful as they were last season when they both demolished minor league pitching; certainly acceptable would be consistently good performances from both.
Bad performances will only impede the club’s progress.