KC Royals: Key players fuel Sunday’s big Omaha win

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

The KC Royals lost 10-7 to Baltimore at Kauffman Stadium Sunday, a defeat that spoiled Kansas City’s shot at a rare series win.

Three hours away, however, some key Royals and KC prospects helped Omaha, the club’s Triple-A farm club, demolish Lehigh Valley. The Storm Chasers struck for eight runs in the first three innings, their pitching shut the IronPigs out, and they walked away with a 10-0 win.

The roles three current Royals visiting Omaha on rehab assignments played, and what a pair of prospects contributed, can’t be overemphasized.

No, first baseman-designated hitter Vinnie Pasquantino, who belted his 17th home run Saturday night, didn’t homer again or drive in a slew of runs. Instead, he was 0-for-3 with a walk and yielded to an eighth-inning pinch hitter. No reason for the departure was announced immediately or known at this writing, but his exit will undoubtedly trigger speculation that he might be on his way to San Francisco to join the big club, which opens a three-game series there tonight.

Pasquantino left Sunday’s heavy lifting to others.

KC Royals starter Zack Greinke was stellar in his first rehab outing for Omaha.

Sent to the Injured List with a flexor strain after a series of concerning starts ended two weeks ago when Minnesota tagged him for five runs in four innings, Zack Greinke made his first rehab start.

He made the most of it.

Greinke retired the IronPigs in order in the first. He did it again in the second. And the third. And the fourth.

Greinke, in fact, faced one batter over the minimum; he allowed only a single in the fifth, and struck out four without issuing any walks.

How soon he’ll return to Kansas City isn’t known, but it should be soon if he continues to show the kind of progress he displayed Sunday.

KC Royals outfielder Edward Olivares looked good at the plate Sunday.

No stranger to Omaha after spending much of 2021 there and slashing .313/.397/.559 with 15 homers, Edward Olivares made his second minor league rehab appearance Sunday after a quad strain forced him to the major league IL in early May. He’s yet to get a base hit for the Storm Chasers, but drew three walks and scored two runs.

Olivares was proving to be a good fit in the Kansas City lineup before his injury—finally playing frequently, he had a .371 average and .421 OBP.

KC Royals backup catcher Cam Gallagher homered and caught the entire game.

Also in Omaha on an injury rehab assignment is Kansas City backup catcher Cam Gallagher. Gallagher, who hasn’t played for the Royals since a hamstring issue sidelined him early last month, clubbed a fourth-inning solo homer that gave the Storm Chasers a 9-0 lead.

Gallagher started and finished the game behind the plate.

MJ Melendez’s success since replacing Gallagher on the Royals’ roster renders the veteran’s future uncertain. General Manager J.J. Picollo, however, seemed to hint recently that the club may soon carry three catchers, which suggests Gallagher’s big league job may still be secure.

Two familiar KC Royals prospects also contributed to Sunday’s Omaha win.

Although his .222 average is 43 points lower than the .265 he put up on the way to a 36-homer season across Double-A and Triple-A last year, Nick Pratto remains Kansas City’s second-best prospect per MLB Pipeline and he played like it Sunday.

Pratto hit his 11th homer of the year, a three-run shot in the second, and drove in two more runs with a single in the Storm Chasers’ four-run third. The 2-for-5 effort gave him a .350 OBP.

Left fielder Brewer Hicklen, who played twice during his recent but short callup to Kansas City last month, singled twice, walked once, drove in a run and scored another, and finished 2-for-3 to raise his average to .258.

Next. How A.O. played a part in ASG history. dark

Some key Royals and a couple of prospects played well in Omaha’s big win Sunday.