Former top-10 KC Royals prospect is giving fans hope once again

Erick Peña fell off most radars after some rough seasons, but a hot streak is giving his long-term outlook new life.
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The KC Royals farm system is considered one of baseball's weakest due to poor drafting and development over the years. Sadly, years of poor drafting and even worse development hampered its outward evaluation. One player prospect gurus consider a big miss in Kansas City was outfielder Erick Peña due to years of underproduction despite being a premier prospect.

He was a top international signee and a top prospect for the Royals, but years of underproduction hampered his outlook. Now, a surge in 2024, with an impressive performance in June, gives new life to Peña's prospect status.

Is KC Royals prospect Erick Peña turning a corner?

The 21-year-old from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, is having an absurd June at the plate. Through 20 June games, he is batting .319/.405/.638, good for a 1.043 OPS. Peña never lacked any power, and his 12 extra-base hits this month back that up. His absurd 18 RBI show not only his ability to produce but also highlight the quality of the Fireflies hitters on any given night.

Peña also continues to excel in right field, maintaining a flawless record without any errors in nearly 500 innings this season. So, you may wonder why he isn't more talked about or a top-30 prospect anymore. Sadly, it is because of an issue he still struggles with: striking out.

Despite striking out 42.03% of the time this month, Peña shows improvement from his 52.8% rate in 2023. His strikeout rate for the season is 40.6%, a 12-point improvement from his 52.8% rate in 2023. It is reasonable to expect an improvement in Peña's plate discipline at 21 years old in Low-A Columbia. But his 20.9% swinging strike rate ranks third-highest in the Carolina League and is the highest among any Royals minor leaguer from Low-A to Triple-A, underscoring the challenge he faces.

I am not saying he is fixed, but his results this month are amazing and give us a glimpse of what he can do. Like former prospect Seuly Matias, Peña's power is insane, but his plate approach will limit his overall ceiling. While Peña is still young enough for Low-A, his performance in his third year in Columbia must continue on this positive trajectory for the Royals to restore confidence in his abilities.

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