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

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LHP Sam Long

I am not in love with the left-handed options in Kansas City's bullpen this spring. Jake Brentz has less accuracy than a stormtrooper from Star Wars, Josh Taylor is treading water this spring, and even Will Smith is showing his age a bit. Luckily, if Kansas City wants a veteran lefty who is producing this spring, they need look no further than non-roster invitee Sam Long.

Long is the epitome of a surprising spring standout, currently throwing four innings with seven strikeouts and only one walk. His minuscule .25 WHIP leads all Royals pitchers with more than one inning of work as well. Royals manager Matt Quatraro praised the lefty this spring in his first look with the Royals.

“He’s not overpowering, but there’s carry on the ball, and his breaking balls look really good, which is unusual being in Arizona with the thin air,” Quatraro said (h/t MLB.com's Anne Rogers). “He’s attacked hitters right from the get-go.”

Long deploys a four-seam fastball with a slider and curveball from a lower arm angle, all three combining for his spring production. He saw plenty of work for the Oakland Athletics last year with middling results, but any player associated with that franchise should be evaluated with a grain of salt.

Long has come out of nowhere and should factor into the final roster battles heading into Opening Day. His path to the majors requires some dominoes to fall, but they are probable ones to fall in Kansas City ahead of this season. At 28 years old, Long has a short MLB leash with no minor-league options remaining. If the Royals are looking for a low-cost option while Taylor and Brentz come back into form, Long is the way to go.

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