A longer look at this prospect might help the KC Royals solve their infield puzzle.
Kansas City called up Maikel García to help offset the loss of 10 unvaccinated Royals for a mid-July series at Toronto; he batted once before the club, already well-stocked with infielders, returned him to Northwest Arkansas when the 10 came back.
He revisited Kansas City just days later and went 7-for-19 before the club optioned him again, this time to Omaha, then spent another few days with the big club before heading back to Triple-A.
Undaunted by the back-and-forth, the young infielder rated KC’s seventh-best prospect by MLB Pipeline continues to hit well for the Storm Chasers. After going 4-for-9, belting a grand slam, and driving in six runs in the Chasers’ twinbill sweep of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Sunday, García is slashing .293/.326/.561 with six homers and 22 RBIs in 18 games since joining Omaha; add his .291/.369/.409 line and four home runs at NWA to the mix, and he’s slashing .291/.361/.440 with 10 homers and 55 RBIs.
His numbers merit recalling García, but good performance isn’t the only reason to bring him back up. The Royals know he can hit—now they need to determine whether he can help solve the puzzle that’s their infield.
While first base seems set with Nick Pratto and Vinnie Pasquantino, shortstop, second and third remain open questions. Manager Mike Matheny has Bobby Witt Jr., Hunter Dozier, and Nicky Lopez switching back and forth at third, Witt, Lopez and, when he’s up, García getting time at short, and Lopez and Michael Massey sharing second, although Massey is solidifying his claim there.
All are good players. But the regular infield the Royals must settle on should include García, who’s a better natural hitter than Lopez but needs some work defensively. García may be the long term answer at short—although it’s Witt’s “natural” position, Kansas City hasn’t been reluctant to play Witt at third, and an infield including him at the hot corner, Massey at second and García between them has promise. Lopez, his .300 season of last year looking more and more like an outlier (he’s hitting .241), could be a valuable backup.
Now is the perfect time to gauge the viability of that concept. Call up Garcia, J.J. Picollo and Dayton Moore, and try that infield setup.