A promising young outfielder could use some more time with the KC Royals.
Like Maikel García, Brewer Hicklen received his taste of the majors earlier this season. He spent four late May days with the club, then accompanied García and the other replacements for unvaccinated Royals to Toronto in July. He’s played four times for the Royals and will still be searching for his first big league hit whenever he returns.
That could be Thursday; Hicklen, 26, is a good candidate for KC’s non-pitcher roster expansion spot.
Why Hicklen? Simple. He’s enjoying a good Triple-A campaign and the Royals’ outfield may be more unsettled than its infield.
Kansas City historically favors speedy, gap hitting outfielders to sluggers, but takes power when it can get it. Hicklen has 24 home runs and 73 RBIs this season, and is averaging over 18 homers over the past four.
But that doesn’t mean he’s one-dimensional—he’s stolen 28 bases this year and is averaging over 30 per minor league season.
So it is the Royals should consider him part of the outfield mix for next season (at least as a reserve) and for Thursday’s callups. At least two outfield spots are in play: while MJ Melendez has inherited left field from the departed Andrew Benintendi, next year will be center fielder Michael A. Taylor’s contract season, making him a probable trade chip, and right field remains a revolving door.
The club is taking long looks at rookie Drew Waters and sophomore Kyle Isbel. Waters, acquired from Atlanta in a July draft pick for players deal, is impressing with a six-game .391 OBP and .261 average, but Isbel’s excellent and exciting defense may not be sufficient to outweigh the weak bat (.214) he’s had most of the season. Ryan O’Hearn shouldn’t enter Kansas City’s mind for 2023 and Hunter Dozier is, in the context of Kansas City’s developing talent, a bench player at best.
Enter Hicklen, whose power alone justifies plugging him into the lineup the rest of this season to see what he can do.