KC Royals News: Nick Pratto, old friends in town, who's hot and who's not

Rounding up some Thursday Kansas City news.
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After suffering two distressing walk-off losses in Baltimore, with their second win of the season sandwiched in between, the KC Royals are back home tonight for the first of four games with Chicago. The 2-4 Royals are in fourth place in the American League Central, but only by a half-game over the 1-4 White Sox.

The 6:40 p.m. CDT contest at Kauffman Stadium will give Kansas City fans the chance to see some former Royals in action — likely to play for Chicago during the series are Nicky Lopez at second base, Andrew Benintendi in left field, Martín Maldonado behind the plate, and Tim Hill out of the bullpen. The Sox are managed by ex-Royals coach Pedro Grifol, whose staff includes former Kansas City backup catcher Drew Butera and former KC coaches Mike Tosar and Eddie Rodriguez.

Kansas City's Seth Lugo, who shut out Minnesota for six innings last Saturday but didn't get a decision, gets his second start of the season; he'll face Michael Soroka, who on the same day gave up four runs and seven hits to Detroit.

Here's how the Royals will line up:

And the White Sox:

Nick Pratto is more than just a blip on the Royals' radar

Impossible to avoid, at least this early in the season, will be calls for the KC Royals to promote Nick Pratto from Triple-A to the big leagues. Pratto, after all, was a once again a favorite of Kansas City fans this spring as he tore through Cactus League pitching with a .421/.476/.816 line and four homers in 13 games.

But as good as his spring training effort was, the Royals decided they didn't have room for him on their Opening Day roster and sent him back to Omaha, where he's now toiled for portions of four straight seasons. And there continues his hot streak — despite going hitless Wednesday for the first time in the Storm Chasers' first four games, Pratto is 5-for-15 with two doubles entering the Chasers' Thursday doubleheader with Columbus. He's also walked three times.

The Royals will be hard-pressed to keep Pratto down on the farm if he continues to hit. He won't displace Vinnie Pasquantino at first unless the club decides to make Pasquantino its primary designated hitter, but Pratto can also play the outfield corners; the Royals might be tempted to give him a shot at right field if Hunter Renfroe's slump — he's 1-for-19 (.053) after getting his first hit during KC's 4-3 road loss to Baltimore Wednesday.

Stay tuned.

Who's hot, and who's not, for the KC Royals

Catcher Salvador Perez, about whom some fans became concerned after he couldn't find a hit in the club's first two games, Wednesday rapped out three hits for the second time this season. He also drove in two runs. After playing in every Kansas City game so far, he's slashing .375/.400/.625 and leads the team in RBI with eight, is second in hits with nine, and his two homers tie him with Bobby Witt Jr. for second-most on the club (Maikel García has three).

Speaking of Witt, the Royals' shortstop has hit safely in all but one of his six games, which helps explain his .400/.464/.880 early-season line.

The Royals continue to get good starting pitching — the rotation's 1.45 ERA is the second-best in the major leagues, and none of the starters has performed badly. Cole Ragans turned in his second quality start of the year Wednesday and has a 1.46 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 12.1 innings.

The bullpen, on the other hand, continued to hamper Kansas City Wednesday night. Closer Will Smith blew the save in the club's 4-3 loss to Baltimore and has been battered for six runs in 2.2 innings. The relief corps' 8.04 ERA is the big leagues' worst.

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