Grading the KC Royals: Slugger Vinnie Pasquantino

(Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
(Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /

Hungry for new blood capable of energizing a team searching for respectability, fans of the KC Royals longed for the big league debuts of Bobby Witt Jr. and Nick Pratto as baseball made the transition from lockout to spring training last March. They’d sought Witt since the club made him the second overall pick in the 2019 draft, and Pratto caught their full attention with a big 2021 minor league season.

Almost lost in the cries for Witt and Pratto was Vinnie Pasquantino, the big first baseman who’d appeared on fans’ radar with a pretty nice 2021 campaign of his own.

While Witt put together a season that earned him Baseball America’s  Minor League Player of the Year award, and Pratto had 36 home runs and 98 RBIs in a campaign split between Double-A and Triple-A, Pasquantino hammered 24 homers, drove in 84 runs, and slashed .300/.394/.563 in 116 games across stints at High-A Quad Cities and Double-A Northwest Arkansas. But with Witt certain of starting 2022 in Kansas City, and Pratto the heir apparent to Carlos Santana at first base, Pasquantino seemed destined to spend this season at Triple-A Omaha.

Witt did, indeed, start the season with the Royals; Pratto, blocked at least until the trade deadline by Carlos Santana, didn’t. He’d have to wait until Kansas City moved Santana.

But it was Pasquantino, who joined Pratto at Omaha to start the season, who succeeded Santana, and made the Royals glad he did.

The KC Royals promoted Vinnie Pasquantino in June and never looked back.

Although Pratto had 11 homers at Omaha when play ended June 26, his .233 average was cause for concern. Pasquantino, on the other hand, had already homered 18 times and was slashing .277/.371/.561, numbers that made Kansas City’s decision easy when they pulled the trade trigger and swapped Santana to Seattle June 27 for pitchers Wyatt Mills and William Fleming.

Pasquantino, not Pratto, headed for Kauffman Stadium.

And if what he did the rest of the season is any indication, he’s with the Royals to stay.

Pasquantino collected his first big league hit—a home run off Detroit’s Michael Pineda—July 1 and, despite batting only .230 in July, hit .329 in August and .361 from Sept. 1 until the season ended Oct. 5.

And while Pratto, called up to The Show for 49 games until his .184 average compelled the Royals to send him back down to Omaha Sept. 17, struggled, Pasquantino became KC’s regular first baseman and finished the campaign with 10 homers, 26 RBIs, and an excellent .295/.383/.450 line in72 games.

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For his first big league season, we’ll give Pasquantino a well-deserved A. It’s a grade he’ll likely earn several more times.

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Vinnie Pasquantino had an excellent major league debut in 2022.