This KC Royals rookie is becoming dangerous again

(Mandatory Credit: Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports) /

No grass has grown beneath Vinnie Pasquantino’s feet since the KC Royals chose to make him theirs in the 11th round of the 2019 amateur draft. He’s wasted no time making his mark and his almost meteoric rise through Kansas City’s farm system flies in the face of the deliberate approach the organization typically takes to developing its best talent, one that invariably frustrates fans desperate to see hot prospects hit Kauffman Stadium sooner rather than later.

Pasquantino forced the Royals’ hand. His sizzling bat made them call him up earlier this season, and may have driven them to deal Carlos Santana away well before the Aug. 2 trade deadline.

Pasquantino’s die seemed cast when he arrived in Kansas City—with Santana gone, the big (6-feet-4, 245-pounds) rookie was the ideal candidate to fill the first base job, a position for which many, including Lucas Duda, Ryan O’Hearn, Hunter Dozier, Ryan McBroom, and Santana had been called but none permanently chosen since Eric Hosmer left KC. After all, Pasquantino had 18 homers, 67 RBIs, a .280/.372/.576 line, and a .948 OPS at Triple-A Omaha when his call to KC came in late June.

But that hot bat cooled as soon as his big league career began.

Was inexperience catching Vinnie Pasquantino when he joined the KC Royals?

Considering this question requires understanding just how rapidly Pasquantino, only 24, made it to Kansas City. As soon as he signed just three years ago, the Royals dispatched him to Rookie ball; arriving in time to play 57 games, he clubbed 14 homers, drove in almost a run per game (53), and slashed .294/.371/.592. The 2020 minor league shutdown forced him to wait until last year to play again.

Skipping Low-A, and lacking a complete professional season’s experience, Pasquantino began 2021 at High-A Quad Cities. He lasted 61 games there before, on the strength of 13 homers, a .291 average and a .384 OBP, the Royals bumped him up to Double-A Northwest Arkansas.

The quick promotion didn’t slow him down. He hit .310 with a .405 OBP and .965 OPS, and added 11 home runs in 55 games, to secure a ticket to Triple-A for this season.

Unfortunately, the stellar numbers that fueled his promotion to the majors earlier this season disappeared as soon as he debuted. He hit his first big league homer in his third game, but didn’t get over the Mendoza Line until a 2-for-5 performance at Toronto July 16 pushed his average from .190 to .206. And he didn’t break the .250 mark until Sunday, when he collected three hits—including his seventh homer of the year—and finished the game at .260.

By then, he’d still played only one full season, and parts of two others, as a pro.

KC Royals rookie Vinnie Pasquantino is becoming dangerous once again.

Undaunted by his early struggles at the plate as a Royal, Pasquantino is, after homering in three  at bats against Minnesota in the first game of a three-contest road series Monday night (he left the game ate after appearing to tweak a shoulder), punishing pitchers again. Hitting .308 since the All-Star Break, he has eight homers with 45 games left in the season, and five of those blasts have come in the last seven games, a feat that figured prominently in the American League naming him its Player of the Week Monday:

And his .345 OBP is testament to his ability to get on base, an art so many other sluggers never master.

So, don’t think Pasquantino, who capably splits time between first base and DH, is a victim of inexperience. He’s starting to hit like the Royals know he can.

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Despite struggling when he made the majors, Vinnie Pasquantino is becoming dangerous again.