Nearly impossible to separate in any discussion about the 2023 KC Royals are Vinnie Pasquantino and Nick Pratto. They are, after all, the leading candidates to play first base for the Royals this season.
Their power at the plate is what makes these two young Royals part of the same conversation. Pratto became the likeliest heir apparent to 2022 KC first baseman Carlos Santana by clubbing 36 homers and driving in 98 runs in the minors in 2021 while, by virtue of a stellar minor league season of his own (24 homers and 84 RBIs with a .300/.394/.563 line), Pasquantino also thrust himself into the post-Santana picture.
Pratto beating Pasquantino to Kansas City seemed probable when both began 2022 at Triple-A Omaha. Actual performance usually trumps potential and projections, though, and did so when the Royals traded Santana to Seattle in late June: Pasquantino's .280/.372/.948 slash and 18 homers at the time were better than the struggling Pratto's .233 average and 11 home runs. KC chose Pasquantino to replace Santana.
Pratto eventually made it to the Royals in July, but hitting .184 didn't warrant a permanent, much less long, stay and he was back in Omaha by mid-September.
Pasquantino, however, made his mark, finishing his rookie season with 10 homers, a .295 average, and a .383 OBP to render him the odds-on favorite to be playing first base in Kansas City when the Royals open their season March 30. But even if Pratto, who's better defensively than Pasquantino, finds his way at the plate and wins the first base job, Pasquantino will still be in the lineup as Quatraro's main DH.
How his first full major league season turns out, then, will be judged chiefly by his bat.
How FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference see Vinnie Pasquantino's KC Royals season
FanGraphs (Depth Charts version) projects Pasquantino hitting 25 home runs, driving in 76 runs, and slashing .278/.362/.493 over 574 plate appearances, while Baseball-Reference's prediction, apparently based more on the half-season he played in 2022, has him finishing with a .276/.355/.435 line, 11 homers, and 34 RBIs in 349 PAs.
How will Vinnie Pasquantino actually perform for the KC Royals this year?
No matter what position he ends up playing, expect Pasuqantino's first full big league campaign to be a good one. He'll finish with numbers much, much closer to FanGraphs' projection than Baseball-Reference's.
In fact, and as long as he stays healthy, anything less than 25 homers, 85 RBIs, and a slash of around .275/.375/.490 will be surprising. But even better numbers would not. This should be an exciting season for Pasquantino.
Vinnie Pasquantino will have a good season.