The KC Royals had the second pick of the 2019 amateur draft, their reward for losing 104 games the season before and being better than only Baltimore, a team so bad it lost 115 times. Picking first and having much different needs than Kansas City, the Orioles grabbed catcher Adley Rutschman with the first overall selection.
The Royals then took infielder Bobby Witt Jr. A KC icon in the making from that moment on, Witt signed for $7,789,900 and headed immediately for Rookie ball in Arizona, where he hit an un-icon-like .262 with one homer in 37 games. He spent the pandemic-canceled 2020 minor league season working with other top prospects at Kansas City's Alternate Training Site, then jumped to Double-A and Triple-A in 2021.
And it was at those two levels that Witt moved closer to icon status.
With only those 37 Rookie games behind him, Witt slashed .295/.369/.579 with 16 homers and 51 RBIs in 61 games at Northwest Arkansas, then homered 17 times, knocked in 46 runs, and put up a .285/.352/.581 line in 62 games at Omaha. Perhaps exercising caution with his development, the Royals resisted the temptation to make Witt one of their September callups. His major league debut was on hold.
Bobby Witt Jr. made it to the KC Royals in 2022 and had a decent season
Witt's time came in last season's first game, and he didn't disappoint a Kauffman Stadium Opening Day crowd when he doubled in what proved to be the eventual winning run late in the contest. He went on to hit 20 home runs and 31 doubles, steal 30 bases, and drive in 80 runs. Only his .254 average and .294 OBP were lower than expected. And his defense proved to need work. All in all, however, Witt's first major league season wasn't bad. We gave him an A.
What will he do this season?
How FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference see Bobby Witt Jr.'s KC Royals season
FanGraphs (Depth Charts version) projects Witt will slash .264/.312/.461, hit 24 homers, drive in 89 runs and steal 26 bases. Baseball-Reference predicts a .259/.308/.431 line with 16 homers, 64 RBIs, and 21 stolen base
What kind of year will Bobby Witt Jr. actually have for the KC Royals?
Rest assured that Witt, playing in only his fourth professional season, will exceed the projections of both FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference. The whole-season experience he gained last year in Kansas City and the fresh start the Royals are getting under new manager Matt Quatraro will help.
So, too, should the club's current plans for him: he bounced between shortstop and third base last year but, by all accounts, the club wants to see him at short this season. Playing a single position can't hurt his defense or his work at the plate.
Expect Witt to settle in defensively and hit in the .275-.280 range with 25-30 homers and at least 35 steals. And don't be surprised if he snares his first All-Star Game berth. It might not be a "monster" season, but it will be good.
Bobby Witt Jr. will have an excellent season for the Royals.