4 KC Royals hitters who are not helping themselves during spring training

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OF Nelson Velázquez

There were few Royals batters with more hype heading into the 2024 season than outfielder Nelson Velázquez. The Puerto Rico native was Kansas City's Player of the Month in September/October while being red-hot at the plate. However, Kansas City's return for reliever Jose Cuas has been lukewarm at best so far this spring.

Velázquez divided his 2023 season with the Chicago Cubs and their Triple-A affiliate before making his Royals debut on Aug. 10, 2023. In 40 games between his debut and the season's end, Velázquez slammed 14 home runs, tied for the second most among all MLB players last season. The power enraptured Kansas City fans' attention, drawing comparisons to Salvador Perez and current elite AL batters.

While Velázquez is facing above-average competition this spring, his results are less than stellar. He only has one extra-base hit in 30 plate appearances while striking out seven times. His .489 OPS places him in the lower half for the Royals this spring, trailing many Opening Day players by a wide margin.

Velázquez's status as the primary designated hitter has to be in question right now. The outfielder's spring performance doesn't exhibit a player needing major-league playing time, plus he has multiple option years remaining. Looking at the stats and approach, the Royals need to evaluate other options and have Velázquez begin 2024 down in Triple-A Omaha.