The KC Royals farm system is undergoing plenty of change at its lower levels, but that leaves players like Peyton Wilson in a bind. The 2021 draftee has been producing for years now, but can he take that next step, reaching Triple-A Omaha in 2024? That is what he will need to do to avoid slipping into a new tide of middle-field prospects.
The Royals drafted Wilson 66th overall from the University of Alabama, and he has slowly proven himself at each level of the minor leagues. 2023 saw him make his Double-A debut with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. While he was not perfect to start the season, his strong finish and the Arizona Fall League are promising.
If you haven't seen Wilson play, it is because you probably blinked. Wilson's speed, both on the field and on the basepaths, is among the best in the Royals system. He swiped 19 bags in 2023 while being caught stealing seven times. Most of those times Wilson was thrown out came early in the season, still figuring out his Double-A competition.
2024 will be integral for Peyton Wilson's future with the KC Royals.
The 24-year-old has the defensive versatility Kansas City covets, but he seems to have settled in at second base. He can competently play the outfield and has the arm for it, but his slight 5-foot-8 frame plays better in the infield.
Wilson's future is undoubtedly linked to his bat, both hitting for contact and for power. Across the whole season, he still posted a 108 wRC+ with a .777 OPS, but he hit his grove in the season's second half. In 85 games from June 1—Sept. 17, Wilson had a .797 OPS and 113 wRC+, reaching base at an impressive .372 clip.
The Royals sent Wilson to play for the Surprise Saguaros, and Wilson held his own against some more experienced competition. His .390 OBP tied for fifth on the team, while he hit three home runs and recorded a .822 OPS in 21 games. Here is a great look at some of his plate appearances in Arizona. Watch his bat speed and angle, which are certainly helping his power production.
Royals fans and the organization will get a good look at Wilson since he is a non-roster invitee to spring training. Hopefully, his speed and underrated power will rejuvinate his career trajectory.
Given that Wilson will be Rule 5 eligible next offseason, the Royals will likely want to evaluate his performance closely to make informed decisions about his future with the organization. His continued development and performance in the minors will be crucial in determining his path to the major leagues.