Things haven’t been good lately for the Royals. We can all acknowledge that.
Is there help in the minor leagues? As it so happens, Royals general manager Dayton Moore addressed that topic in an interview with Sirius XM.
Let’s take a closer look at those options.
2B/OF Whit Merrifield
Merrifield nearly broke camp with the Royals, but instead was sent to Class AAA Omaha. His versatility has always been a plus, and he’s played all three outfield positions with the Storm Chasers in addition to third base and second base. Most of that playing time has been at second base. Merrifield has played 22 games there with just one error in 199 innings.
According to MILB.com, Merrifield’s range factor at second base is 4.91, which is better than Christian Colon’s 4.50 last year.
At the plate, Merrifield is hitting .275 with eight doubles, three home runs and 12 RBIs in 108 at-bats. His 16 stolen bases lead the Pacific Coast League, and he has yet to be caught.
Merrifield is not on the 40-man roster, so the Royals would have to make room for him.
OF Jorge Bonifacio
The 22-year-old native of the Dominican Republic is swinging a hot bat. He has a triple slash of .313/.342/.545 at Class AAA Omaha. As the on-base percentage indicates, Bonifacio doesn’t walk much — just four times this season against 28 strikeouts.
However, Bonifacio has seven doubles, two triples, five home runs and 24 RBIs. He’s made three errors: two in right field and one in left field.
3B Hunter Dozier
Dozier, who was the Royals’ first pick in the 2013 draft, opened 2015 at Class AA Northwest Arkansas, his third season there. But Dozier wasn’t in the Natural State for long. He raked to the tune of .305/.400/.642 with eight homers and eight doubles in 95 at-bats over 26 games.
That earned Dozier, 24, a promotion to Class AAA Omaha, where he’s had one hit in his first 10 at-bats.
In addition to playing third base at Northwest Arkansas, Dozier played six games in left field. He is not on the Royals’ 40-man roster, so a move would have to be made.
Moore also had talked about a potential boost to the Royals’ pitching staff:
Rustin Dodd noted that club officials have said that Minor’s velocity has been impressive during extended spring training outings. Minor is on the Class Northwest Arkansas roster and he is expected to start Tuesday night, according to Paul Boyd of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
This is also a good chance to look at the top five prospects in the Royals’ minor-league system.
SS/2B Raul Mondesi
Mondesi was suspended 50 games on Tuesday after testing positive for performance-enhancing substance.
RHP Kyle Zimmer
In his first appearance of the season with Class A-Advanced Wilmington, Zimmer allowed two hits and two walks in 1 2/3 shutout innings last week. All five outs were strikeouts. Zimmer opened the season in extended spring training because of a shoulder issue.
RHP Ashe Russell
He is in extended spring training.
RHP Miguel Almonte
Almonte, who earned a call-up last September, has struggled this season. In six starts with Class AAA Omaha, Almonte has allowed 22 runs (16 earned) in 23 2/3 innings. He has struck out 26, but also has given up 26 hits and walked 17.
RHP Nolan Watson
Watson, the 33rd overall pick in the 2015 draft, is 0-3 with an 11.22 ERA at Class A Lexington. He’s allowed 35 hits in 21 2/3 innings.
That list probably didn’t get you too excited. So here are a couple of other players who are worth keeping an eye out for this season:
RHP Josh Staumont
Scouting grades top out at 80 and that is the number MLB.com assigned to rates Staumont’s fastball. He throws 100 mph and has decent off-speed stuff. Staumont has struck out 35 batters in 19 2/3 innings at Class A Wilmington, but he’s walked 16. He was a second-round pick last year.
1B Ryan O’Hearn
O’Hearn is the No. 13 prospect according to MLB.com, and he was promoted early this season. After batting .352 and clubbing seven homers in 22 games at Class A-Advanced Wilmington, O’Hearn jumped to Class AA Northwest Arkansas. He’s kept things going with the Naturals, hitting .370 with one homer and four doubles in seven games. He has a 1.000 on-base-plus-slugging percentage at Class AA.