The KC Royals opened the I-70 series with a resounding victory over the visiting St. Louis Cardinals. The Royals returned to Kauffman Stadium all decked out in powder blues and recording a win over their cross-state rival made for a great Friday night. Shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. and catcher Salvador Perez both recorded home runs, but most of the lineup had an excellent offensive showing. That goes for outfielder Nelson Velázquez who added his bat to the second inning party.
Nelson Velázquez's homer went 411 feet in his KC Royals debut.
The Royals acquired Velázquez in the Jose Cuas trade ahead of the trade deadline. The former Chicago Cub struggled mightily in six games with the Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers, where he recorded one hit in 22 plate appearances. Velázquez joined the Royals after outfielder Drew Waters went to the bereavement list while the team was finishing the Boston series.
While his limited action in Omaha was not stellar, the Royals like what Velázquez brings to the team.
“Everything has been very positive,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “A lot of people from the Cubs reached out about what they think of him as a player and a person. I know we think a lot by acquiring him.”
At only 24 years old, Velázquez is still growing as an MLB player. With only 90 games under his belt, Quatraro said he has "a lot of room to grow". He appeared in 13 games for the Cubs this season, posting an impressive .379 ISO and 145 wRC+. Those numbers suggest a future building block for the Cubs, but the fringe contending club had an outfield jam. Their problem only benefited the Royals, giving them a player who may stick in the big leagues this season. Velázquez could replace an older or underperforming player on the 26-man roster if the Royals go that route after Waters returns.
He can play multiple outfield spots, as he lined up in right field on Friday. He also has plus-power, and that tool made showed in his first plate appearance in Kauffman Stadium.