KC Royals News: Power rankings, bat speed, prospect ratings

Contending isn't the only reason Kansas City is making news.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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With only hours left before they open a three-game series in Seattle tonight, the KC Royals find themselves doing something they haven't done seriously for years — they're contending in the American League Central Division.

Yes, it's early, but there's no denying this team's improvement or the proximity to first place it's maintained through the season's first 42 games. The Royals, in fact, head into their series with the Mariners just a half-game behind division-leading Cleveland.

But being so close to the top with a chance to take it isn't the only reason the Royals are making news. Here are a few others.

The Royals maintain their current Power Rankings position

Kansas City started this week precisely where it ended the last one — in10th place in MLB.com's Power Rankings. The rankings, released just today, emphasize the key role newcomer Seth Lugo is playing in the club's sudden resurgence, and place the Royals between the ninth-place Cubs and 11th-place Rangers.

Baltimore leads the rankings; Kansas City is the fifth-highest rated American League team.

How do the Royals rank in a new hitting metric?

Speaking of MLB.com, the site has announced the availability of new Statcast offensive data at Baseball Savant. Measured daily will be bat speed, path, fast-swing rate, swing length, and "swords", all of which MLB.com's Mike Petriello explains in detail here.

Perhaps most eye-catching among the data is bat speed, but as of today no Royals rank in the top 10; Bobby Witt Jr., whose 75.2 mph average speed ranks 21st, is highest among KC players. Hunter Renfroe is 37th at 74.4 mph, and Nelson Velázquez's 73.7 mph ranks 51st.

Kansas City doesn't fare well in latest prospect rankings

MLB Pipeline's latest prospect rankings are out and, as the case has ben for too long, the Royals aren't heavily represented. Only one Kansas City prospect, Columbia catcher Blake Mitchell, made it into Pipeline's Top 100. He's 73rd.

Mitchell, who we recently included when checking up on Pipeline's top five KC prospects, is hitting .239 with an excellent .395 OBP at Columbia. He has three homers, 12 RBI, and 10 stolen bases in 37 games for the Fireflies. He was the Royals' top pick in last year's amateur draft.

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