3 outfielders the KC Royals should consider protecting

(Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) /
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KC Royals, Brewer Hicklen
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This power hitting outfielder gives the KC Royals a couple of options.

Heading into the 2023 season, Kansas City’s outfield is talented but unsettled.

Gold Glover Michael A. Taylor is a lock to start the season in center—if, considering he’s preparing for his contract year and other clubs are always looking for good outfielders, he’s not traded before Opening Day.

MJ Melendez’s 2022 big league debut featured 18 homers and, when he wasn’t catching, he played enough left field to establish himself as the probable 2023 starter there. His glove, though, needs work, and a lot of it.

More. Left field is a KC trouble spot. light

Right field is up for grabs, although Edward Olivares, who was injured much of the season but still hit a solid .286 in 53 games, might have the inside track.

A good grade for Edward Olivares. light. Related Story

Could Brewer Hicklen fight his way into the mix?

It’s quite possible. Hicklen made it to the majors for the first time in 2022, playing twice in late May and then four times when summoned to help fill in for the 10 Royals whose vaccination status kept them out of a July series in Toronto, but didn’t get a hit in four at-bats.

His season at Triple-A Omaha was much, much different. Hicklen slammed 28 homers, drove in 85 runs, had a .348 OBP and .850 OPS, and stole 35 bases.

And what of his five-year minor league career? He hit four homers in 39 games in his first season (2017), but has since averaged 19 per campaign. He’s averaging 33 steals a year and has a .265/.358/.474 slash and .832 OPS.

Hicklen’s are numbers the Royals shouldn’t want to lose in the Rule 5 draft—he’s good but, if he doesn’t figure into their long term plans, he’s probably a trade chip worth a decent return. That’s why the club should give serious thought to adding him to the 40-man roster.

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The Royals may well want to protect outfielders John Rave, Diego Hernandez and Brewer Hicklen from the Rule 5 Draft.