3 good reasons to keep watching the ‘new’ KC Royals

(Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports) /
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KC Royals
(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

Seeing how the KC Royals’ group of talented rookies finish will be well worth it.

That Whit Merrifield and Andrew Benintendi are gone from the club hasn’t hurt the Royals—they’re 8-8 since trading Benintendi to the Yankees and 6-4 after dealing Merrifield to Toronto. And while fans may miss those two stars, plenty of rookies are capturing attention.

Bobby Witt Jr. continues to build his case as a possible AL Rookie of the Year candidate. His 15 homers trail only Salvador Perez’s 17 on the club, he’s stolen 22 bases (fifth highest in the majors), and his .254 average, while not spectacular, is 27 points higher than it was June 1.

MJ Melendez debuted May 3 and, although he’s hitting just .235, has 14 homers and 41 RBIs.

Vinnie Pasquantino beat Nick Pratto to Kansas City—the Royals called Pasquantino up June 27 and summoned Pratto July 22—and both are starting to make their presence known. Splitting time between first base and DH, Pasquantino has steadily improved his average to .247 and has a .331 OBP and six homers. Pratto strikes out too much, but shines defensively at first and has three homers, including this walk-off blast against Boston last Saturday:

Michael Massey is, with Merrifield gone, settling in at second base. He’s played there eight times since Merrifield’s departure, has erred only once and is hitting .333 with a .385 OPS.

Their play may not be overwhelming yet, but these rookies bear watching as the season winds down.