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Tim Crone: Royals need time to get seasoned

Staff Writer
The Examiner
Tim Crone

The first 15 Kansas City Royals games were ugly to watch, but bad baseball is better than no baseball.

It does look as if the young players will be able to get valuable experience, which is a good nod to the future. Some of the young pitchers in particular seem to have a lot of potential. It is important to play and pitch the young players and not worry about the 2020 playoffs.

It hurt the team in the outfield and offensively with the absence of Hunter Dozier due to COVID-19. Without him, Franchy Cordero (now out on the injured list) hit .154, Alex Gordon is under .200 and Bubba Starling was at .211 and they have maybe hit a dozen balls hard between them. Brett Phillips is the only outfielder that has shown any offensive success.

Whit Merrifield brings the outfield’s offense up a notch when he is playing the outfield. Merrifield has shown pop with the bat and is the best all-around player on the team.

Salvador Perez is swinging the bat very well after coming off a year and a half layoff. He has to stay in the lineup all the time, so he needs to learn how to play first base.

Jorge Soler is the perfect major league DH. He is the first big time power hitter the Royals have had who can change the result of any game with one swing of the bat. He will always be a high home run and RBI guy and if he can continue to hit around .265 for an average, the Royals need to keep him around.

The combination of Ryan O’Hearn and Ryan McBroom at first base may end up as a good possibility of two guys who can play a platoon role and add an effective bat off the bench. Nicky Lopez started off both offensively and defensively terribly slow both but has improved over the past couple of weeks. He needs to play this year to see if he can be an everyday major league second baseman.

The hardest guy to figure out on the entire team is shortstop Adalberto Mondesi. He is a five-tool player who everyone says is special, but he has struggled at the plate and in the field all year. He is hitting .262 and when he does get on, he can change the entire game plan with his outstanding speed. He is second on the team in strikeouts and his defense has been average at best, especially on the route plays and throws. Every year Mondesi is supposed to be a breakthrough player. He needs to stay in the lineup every game this year to prove he is the franchise shortstop.

The addition of Maikel Franco at third base has proven to be a solid move. He is hitting well and among the American League leaders in extra-base hits. He is solid at third and looks like he will provide much needed power in the lineup.

The Royals organization has invested most of their drafting resources into young pitchers, which is great. I hope they will continue to let those young arms get the experience they need throughout the 2020 season. Brady Singer, Gabe Speier, Tyler Zuber and Kris Bubic should get a lot of innings in order to be ready for a true big-league season when that time comes.

Veterans Danny Duffy and Ian Kennedy have been very solid and have provided good leadership for the young pitchers. Greg Holland has helped the bullpen with his experience. The loss of both Brad Keller and Jakob Junis at the beginning of the season probably cost the team 2-4 wins. Both of these guys can pitch.

It looks like Trevor Rosenthal has found his groove again as a closer. The bullpen has used many arms to try to determine who can be counted on in the future.

The organization is going to have to develop some younger players in everyday positions in order to turn the corner to become playoff caliber. Gordon is at the end of the road. Starling struggles to hit. Lopez has to be more consistent. Mondesi needs to become the major league player he was expected to be. At least they are having a season!

• The quote of the week comes from former late Oakland A’s manager Dick Williams: “Nothing comes easy in life, but if you believe in yourself, are honest in your self-appraisal, are able to take constructive criticism and are prepared to give 100 percent total effort in everything you do – you will always be able to hold your head high.”

– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at t.crone@comcast.net.