The Royals walked off with a 3-2 win over the Reds on Wednesday at Surprise Stadium. The Royals remain unbeaten in early Cactus League play.
One day after tallying a spring-high 17 hits, the Royals didn’t muster much offense against the Reds. Cody Asche drove in Tyler Collins with a second-inning single, and the Royals scored their next run in the fifth when Salvador Perez grounded into a force-out.
But a group of young Royals mounted a ninth-inning rally to retain the team’s perfect record.
Catcher Chase Vallot, a 2014 draft pick attending his second big-league camp, ripped a leadoff double to left field. With Erick Mejia pinch-running, infielder Jack Lopez laid down a bunt on the third-base side to move the runner up. Then Humberto Arteaga sent a single up the middle with the Reds’ infield playing in to score the game-winning run.
“To see these kids compete and to watch how they are thirsting for knowledge really in the early workouts and hanging onto everything that Mitch (Maier, first-base coach) says about base running and outfield play and what Jirsch (Mike Jirschele, third-base coach) says about infield play, these kids are — they’re taking it to heart and they’re putting it into practice in the game,” manager Ned Yost said. “It’s fun to watch them compete. They’re taking it serious.”
Eric Skoglund threw 25 pitches over two innings and allowed an unearned run on a sacrifice fly off the bat of left-handed hitting Jesse Winker.
Skoglund, the eighth-best prospect in the organization per MLB.com, has worked on shortening his arm path through the first few weeks of camp. The adjustments — which also include starting his throwing motion with his glove a little lower — helped him command the bottom of the strike zone Wednesday.
“It feels good,” Skoglund said. “It feels normal again.”
At first base
The acquisition of veteran first baseman Lucas Duda early Wednesday quashed what seemed like a legitimate possibility for prospect Hunter Dozier, 26, to crack the major-league roster out of spring camp.
In spite of the news, Dozier still got the chance to use his newest glove — like Whit Merrifield, the Royals are playing Dozier all over the field, contributing to a surplus of equipment in his locker — at first on Wednesday. He entered the game in the sixth inning and went 1 for 1 with a walk.
The Royals entered the fifth game of the spring with the second-best batting average in the majors. Their collective .333 clip is second only to the San Francisco Giants’ .340.
Center field candidate Paulo Orlando continued his torrid streak, hitting a ground-rule double to center field in the sixth inning. He’s now hit four doubles and has 10 total bases this spring.
The Royals traded international bonus pool money to the Texas Rangers in exchange for right-handed pitcher Domingo Pena, a 19-year-old from the Dominican Republic who signed with Texas in 2015.
The Royals (4-0-1) travel to Peoria, Ariz., at 2 p.m. Thursday to play the Seattle Mariners. The game will be telecast on tape delay via MLB Network.