The Royals’ outfield is set for the season. Only an injury would change it at this point.
Andrew Benintendi was acquired in a trade with the Boston Red Sox in the offseason. He will start in left field. Benintendi, while not as good as Alex Gordon on defense, is a good defensive outfielder. We will see how his defense does in the large spaces of Kauffman Stadium. But Benintendi is here for his offense, and that should be a big improvement over what Gordon was giving the Royals recently.
Michael Taylor was brought in to cover the large outfield in Kauffman. He’s the new centerfielder. Taylor can flat-out fly in the outfield. Offensively, Taylor isn’t anything to get excited about. He doesn’t hit for average. He doesn’t get on base at a high rate. He has very little power. No, this signing was all about defense.
Whit Merrifield will patrol right field. We know all about Whit. He should be the second baseman if the team had a little more offense. But it’s not Whit’s destiny to have one position. He will have to move around the diamond. We know all about his offense. He’s one of the best offensive players in the game. His outfield defense is fine but not outstanding. Whit has discussed how he worked on his arm this offseason to get better at the longer throws. Since being in the infield, he hasn’t spent time working on his long throws.
We know what we will get from Whit Merrifield. We have a good idea of what we will get from Andrew Benintendi and Michael Taylor. But where do things stand with the other outfield options?
The fact that Dayton Moore brought in a weak-hitting centerfielder speaks volumes on what the Royals think of Bubba Starling. They don’t see Starling as a regular player in the major leagues. It’s almost time for the Royals to let him go, and I think they might if they need a spot on the roster.
The Royals received Edward Olivares last year in the deal that sent Trevor Rosenthal to the San Diego Padres. Olivares played pretty well with the Royals in his 18 games last year. He hit .274 with the Royals but struck out 25 times and walked just twice. I would think the Royals might keep him over Bubba Starling, but we will see.
The Royals signed Jarrod Dyson recently, giving us even more insight into what the club thinks of Bubba Starling.
The top outfield prospects in the farm system include Kyle Isbel, Erick Pena, Brewer Hicklen, and Seuly Matias
Kyle Isbel is the outfield Keith Law likes the best right now. Law thinks Isbel could be a future leadoff hitter. His minor league stats to this point don’t give you anything to get excited about.
Erick Pena was signed in July of 2019 for $4 million, and some have compared him to Carlos Beltran. That’s high praise indeed. But he’s young and nowhere close to Kansas City at this time.
Brewer Hicklen sounds like a guy who isn’t projected to be a starting outfielder.
Seuly Matias feels like a poor man’s Jorge Soler. He has a ton of power but strikes out a lot.
So while the Royals look to be in pretty good shape in left field and right field, center field is a question. But the Royals need all three to stay healthy. The options behind the projected starters don’t give me a very good feeling.