Why Nick Pratto won't spend much time with the KC Royals this year

Pratto's chances to make the club look slim.

Reggie Hildred-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to Kings of Kauffman's 2024 KC Royals player projection series. Over the next few weeks, we'll be reviewing how various Royals performed last year and predicting how they might fare this season. Up today is Nick Pratto.

The wonderful minor league season Nick Pratto enjoyed in 2021, when he slammed 36 homers, drove in 98 runs, and slashed .265/.385/.602, hasn't turned out to be the harbinger of great things it felt like at the time. No longer is he the presumptive starting KC Royals first baseman that performance seemingly made him.

Instead, Pratto's current status is that of a long-on-potential, short-on-performance player whose odds of making the Opening Day roster aren't good. A stacked deck faces him —Vinnie Pasquantino is back from his injury-shortened 2023 season and, having outplayed Pratto since both arrived in the majors two years ago, owns first base, and Salvador Perez now spends more time there than ever (expect him to increase that this season). Nick Loftin can also fill in at first if he makes the club.

And Pratto's big league numbers don't help his cause. The dismal .184/.271/.386 line he put up after following Pasquantino to Kansas City in 2022 forced the Royals to send him back to Triple-A Omaha in September, and the .232/.307/.353 he improved to last year (and for which we gave him a C-) still isn't good enough to put him in the running for a starting job.

So, what's in store for him in 2024?

How FanGraphs projects Nick Pratto will do this season

FanGraphs (Depth Charts version) predicts Pratto will play 62 games for Kansas City and slash .221/.313/.393 with eight home runs and 30 RBI. Those are the numbers of a reserve, not a starter.

How will Nick Pratto actually perform for the KC Royals?

Some might say this is a trick question because Pratto won't make it to Kansas City this season. And that could, considering his inability to measure up to big league pitching and his consistently high strikeout rate (38.7% in 464 major league at-bats), be the case.

Don't be surprised if it is. Unless Pratto destroys Cactus League pitching and injury strikes Pasquantino this spring, Pratto is destined to start the season in Omaha (he has one minor league option left) where, absent an isolated call-up or two, he'll probably spend the rest of the season. That's how crowded the Royal roster situation is.

One other scenario may play out, however ... the Royals could trade Pratto to a club with more room and more time to find out if he'll ever hit again like he did in 2021.

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