3 KC Royals players who have surprised the most in spring training (so far)

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As the KC Royals immerse themselves in the rhythms of spring training, fans are reminded once again of baseball's annual rebirth. The crack of the bat, the smell of fresh-cut grass, and the promise of a new season bring with it revelations and surprises, especially when it comes to player performances. With each spring training, we see familiar faces returning to the diamond, but it's often the unexpected players who steal the show and leave lasting impressions.

The KC Royals have some surprising players surging this spring.

This year, three Royals have managed to step out from the shadows and command attention. Their performances have caught the eyes of fans, making them the talk of the training camp. While the season proper is yet to swing into full throttle, these Royals have shown glimpses of brilliance that could very well translate to on-field success in the upcoming season. None of them factored into the 26-man roster battle this time last month, but that is changing thanks to great first impressions. Let's dive in, shall we?

1B Nick Pratto

After his poor showing in 2023, first baseman Nick Pratto's path back to the big leagues was going to be tough. His two straight seasons of negative fWAR, abysmal strikeout problems, and subpar defense cast doubt on his big-league future entirely. His first impression in 2024 mattered immensely, and his spring training performance is setting the right tone ahead of Opening Day.

Only 10 Royals players have at least 20 plate appearances this spring, and Pratto is one of them. The 2017 first-round pick is not an integral member of the MLB roster right now but still has more opportunities at the plate so far than Hunter Renfroe, Maikel Garcia, and Michael Massey. Pratto's batting opportunities have been productive, evident by his 1.032 OPS and 174 wRC+. He has only struck out three times in 20 plate appearances which is good for a 15% strikeout rate.

Pratto is a natural first baseman but exhibited some positional versatility last season in the outfield. The Royals have plenty of utility players on the bench right now, but Pratto could force himself into a bench role playing first base and the corner outfield spots.

Can his offensive production last? Truthfully, probably not. He hasn't registered a walk this spring while posting a 26.5% swinging strike rate, the second highest among Royals with at least 20 plate appearances this year. He still exhibits an undisciplined plate approach, while facing Double-A-level competition according to Baseball Reference.

I really want Pratto to be back and figure into the Opening Day roster picture. But, looking at his production and ignoring the continuing issues is foolish at best.