KC Royals Spring Training: Invitees hope to turn heads

As baseball fans rejoice in the restored full slate of games for 2022, several KC Royals minor league prospects look to make their mark in Kansas City’s big league camp.

Of course, the hands-down favorite to make the team out of Spring Training or shortly thereafter is Bobby Witt Jr. But there are also other non-roster invitees in camp who could turn heads and force their names into the discussion for roster spots, maybe sooner than later.

Drafted in 2020, catcher Kale Emshoff missed out on playing that summer because the pandemic shut down the minor leagues. He made up for lost time by popping 27 extra-base hits and posting a .378 OPS in 63 games with the Columbia Fireflies, the Royals’ Low-A affiliate, last season.

A good showing this spring could move Emshoff up the ranks in the minors and give him a chance to leap up the depth chart.

Some other non-roster prospects could impress the KC Royals this spring.

A player who might be creeping up on being too old (25) to be called a “prospect” is second baseman Gabriel Cancel. He did fare well at Omaha last year with 14 home runs and 12 steals in just 57 games at the Triple-A level. The Royals’ infield has a log jam that will make it hard for him to get major league playing time, but injuries or trades could push Cancel into action.

Vinnie Pasquantino has yet to struggle in the minors with a career .959 OPS in 173 games. He has excellent power (24 homers between High-A Quad Cities and Double-A Northwest Arkansas in 2021) and a great eye at the plate. While Nick Pratto is the favorite to win the first base job, Pasquantino could make a strong case for himself in the next few weeks.

The wheels on Brewer Hicklen are impressive—he’s swiped 35 bases or more in each of his last three minor league seasons, including 40 at Northwest Arkansas in 2021. He also has pop with a combined 49 home runs in that same time frame. He could use more seasoning in the minors, but Kansas City’s outfield might need his help in 2022.

Some other interesting non-roster invitees are pitcher Arodys Vizcaíno, outfielder JaCoby Jones and catcher Freddy Fermin.

Here are the other non-roster players in Kansas City’s spring camp:

The Royals invited 21 non-roster players to spring training. They all are hoping to turn heads.