2019 Fantasy Baseball: Kansas City Royals Team Outlook

Shawn Childs

Kansas City Royals

(Updated: March 13)

After winning a World Series in 2015, the Royals have regressed in the standings over the last three seasons. Last year they fell to 58-104, which was their five seasons with 100 or more losses over the last 17 years. In the team’s 50 year history, Kansas City has 11 playoff appearances with one other World Series title (1985).

In 2018, the Royals allowed 195 more runs than they scored (638 – 25th). They only hit 155 HRs (26th) while batting only .245 (18th). Kansas City fell to 29th in ERA (4.94).

The only two losses in the offseason were SS Alcides Escobar and SP Jason Hammel. The Royals signed OF Billy Hamilton and IF Chris Owings to improve their bench depth and possibly their starting lineup. A spring training injury to C Salvador Perez led to the Royals signing C Martin Maldonado. They also added RP Brad Boxberger to take over the closing role.

The starting lineup has speed while lacking foundation power bats in the middle of the lineup. Their top hitting prospects look to be a couple of years away leading to another weak hitting season.

The bullpen is in full rebuild mode while still having a couple of young arms (Jake Newberry and JoshStaumont) that need to come quickly.

I don’t see an impact arm on the roster with their top two pitching prospects (Daniel Lynch and Brady Singer) just starting their minor league career. KC does have some other intriguing arms at the lower levels of the minor league system, which sets up a possible breakthrough on the pitching side in three to four seasons.

Kansas City looks to be in for another long season while needing to develop a core of young bats over the next couple of seasons.

Batting Order

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Merrifield ended up being a great waiver wire find in 2017, but it didn't come without some trying moments. He played well at AAA (.412 over 34 at-bats with three HRs and nine RBI) leading to a call-up to the majors. Over his first 20 games with the Royals, Whit hit .211 with three HRs, six RBI, and two SBs. A Fantasy owner looking for more upside most likely dumped him back into the free agent pool in mid-May. Merrifield hit .298 over his last 516 at-bats of the season with 72 runs, 16 HRs, 72 RBI, and 32 SBs. Over eight seasons in the minors, he hit .274 with 46 HRs, 274 RBI, and 143 SBs in 2,796 at-bats. In 2018, Merrifield pushed his game to higher limits in at-bats (632), runs (88), and SBs (45) while failing to match his breakout in power. His walk rate (8.6) gained value with a slight tick back in his K rate (16.1). His batting average rise was helped by his higher CTBA (.371) while regressing in his average hit rate (1.443). Whit played his best ball against lefties (.357 with five HRs and 15 RBI). Most of his production came over the last two months of the season (seven HRs, 28 RBI, and 22 RBI over 231 at-bats). His swing path lost some loft (35.3 percent fly ball rate – 40.5 in 2017), which led to regression in his HR/FB rate (6.5 – 9.4 in 2017). A late bloomer who showed the ability to hit home runs and steal bases over the last two years in the majors. If the two skill sets emerge in the same season, Whit has a chance to be a five-category asset. Draft him with the idea of a .290 season with 85+ runs, 15 HRs, 65+ RBI, and 35+ steals.

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Mondesi was major league ready last year, but he started the year on the DL with a right shoulder injury. After missing a month of action at AAA, Adalberto spent six weeks at AAA with productive results in all areas expect batting average (.250). His K rate (22.5) showed growth while still having a short walk rate (6.0). Over the last three and half months of the season in the majors, his bat turned out to be electric. His success projected over 550 at-bats would have led to 94 runs, 28 HRs, 74 RBI, and 64 SBs pushing his name to the forefront for Fantasy owners. His run rate has been top shelf over his last two seasons at AAA and the majors. His approach with Kansas City didn't support more follow through in 2019. His K rate (26.5) came in high with a weak walk rate (3.8). Adalberto had a massive jump in his HR/FB rate (19.7). This season a Fantasy owner can count his speed plus have enough confidence in him to deliver mid-teen HRs. His batting average has a better chance of being under .250 than being an asset. A 15/40 skill set at the minimum is unique while also having a reasonable chance of offering an edge in runs. With an ADP of 45, Mondesi could be a trick or treat in 2019. If the skill set fits your team structure, just make sure to build in enough batting average cover.

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This season it will be interesting to see how Fantasy owners rank Soler. After a quiet first two weeks of the year (.244 with no HRs and one RBI), Jorge played well over his next 42 games (.278 with 24 runs, nine HRs, 27 RBI, and three SBs over 162 at-bats). A week later his season ended with a broken toe in his left foot. His K rate (26.9) still has risk while still showing the ability to take a walk (10.9). Soler played well against lefties (.315 with four HRs and seven RBI over 54 at-bats). His HR/FB rate (17.0) still fell short of his best seasons in the minors. Over five seasons in the majors, Jorge hit .249 with 121 runs, 38 HRs, 132 RBI, and seven SBs over 1,002 at-bats. He has an ADP of 350 in the early drafts season in the high-stakes market, which is another buying opportunity for me. At age 27, he looks poised to have the best season of his career. His bar starts at .260 with 75+ run, 30+ HRs, and 80+ RBI.

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Over five seasons in the minors, Ryan hit .270 with 95 HRs, 325 RBI, and 16 SBs over 2,058 at bats. He has over 20 home runs in each of his last four years. His walk rate (10.7) projects to be above the league average while needing to shave off some of his strikeouts (25.4 percent). In 2018, O’Hearn played much better in the majors (.262 with 12 HRs and 30 RBI over 149 at-bats), which led to a huge AVH (2.282) and RBI rate (24). His approach fell almost in line with his minor league resume while regaining some of his lost CTBA (.375 – .374 in 2015 and .372 in 2016). Ryan looked lost vs. lefties (.108 with two HRs, three RBI, and 16 Ks over 37 at-bats). He somewhat overplayed his previous resume against RH pitching (.313 with ten HRs and 27 RBI over 112 at-bats). Last year he became more of a fly ball hitter (44.6 percent at AAA and 46.2 in the majors). Over the two previous seasons in the minors, his fly ball rate finished around 35 percent with a higher volume of ground balls (over 45 percent). In the majors, O’Hearn had a massive HR/FB rate (25.0) which was supported by some of his previous success power in the minors. Heading toward a platoon role unless he cleans up his contact rate vs. lefties. Ryan has enough power to hit 35+ HRs with 550 at-bats, but I expect him to be closer to 450 at-bats in 2019. He wants to drive the ball, which comes with batting average risk. I see .240 with 65/25/70 skill set with a chance to surprise with a better approach and a more balanced swing path.

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The Royals are on the hook for $24 million at the minimum for Gordon after signing a four-year contract before the 2016 season. Over the last three seasons, he hit .225 with 39 HRs, 139 RBI, and 27 SBs over 1,427 at-bats. Alex hasn't had a category of value since 2014. His walk rate (8.8) came in below his career average (9.6) for the second straight season with just below a league average K rate (21.8). Gordon has no value against lefties (.211 with one HR and 13 RBI over 147 at-bats). After coming up empty on most nights over the first four months of the season (.239 over six HRs and 20 RBI over 309 at-bats), Alex somehow found a pulse in August and September (.254 with 27 runs, seven HRs, 34 RBI, and eight SBs over 197 at-bats). At age 35, the juice is no longer in his game leaving him as only a waiver wire option if even wants to play another game in the majors after 2019.

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Kansas City drafted Dozier 8th overall in the 2013 MLB June Amateur Draft. His road to the majors has been slow (six seasons). He had his best year in 2016 at AAA (.294 with 15 HRs and 54 RBI over 391 at-bats) that put him on pace to make the majors the next season. In 2017, he missed much of the year with three injuries (oblique, broken left wrist, and broken nose). The Royals gave him an extended look last year in the majors where Dozier saw time at 1B, 3B, and OF. His K rate (28.1) was higher than in the minors (24.2) with regression his walk rate (6.2 – 11.0 in the minors). Hunter had a weak RBI rate (11) and failed to match his previous success in his CTBA (.328). Just like Ryan O’Hearn, Dozier struggled against lefties (.207 with no HRs and seven RBI over 111 at-bats) in KC. He is a career .261 hitter in the minors with 55 HRs, 264 RBI, and 29 SBs over 1,921 at bats. I don’t see an everyday hitter in the major unless he unlocks his success at AAA in 2016. His swing does offer 25+ HRs potential if given 500 at-bats. Hunter looks to be undraftable in the Fantasy market heading into spring training while having a chance to be a short-term injury cover if he’s getting everyday at-bats. With success, he could develop into a possible buy and hold.

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The injury to Salvador Perez created a starting job for Maldonado in 2019. Over his eight years in the majors, Martin hit only .220 over 1.767 at-bats with 51 HRs and 193 RBI. His best opportunity to start came over the last two seasons (.223 with 23 HRs and 82 RBI over 802 at-bats). His average hit rate (1.560) is fading while never producing a high CTBA (.305). Maldonado has a sliding walk rate (4.0) with weakness in his K rate (24.3). A defensive-minded catcher with double-digit power, but he’ll hurt Fantasy teams with his low batting average.

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Over seven seasons in the minors, Phillips hit .279 with 74 HRs, 335 RBI, and 84 SBs over 2,379 at bats. In 2017, Brett played well at AAA (.305 with 79 runs, 19 HRs, 78 RBI, and nine SBs over 383 at-bats) putting him at the doorstep of the majors. The Brewers gave him 87 at-bats leading to four HRs and 12 RBI, but he struck out 34.7 percent of the time. With a log jam in the outfield in Milwaukee in 2018, Phillips found himself back at AAA (.240 with six HRs, 25 RBI, and 11 SBs over 258 at-bats) with much weaker results. In his minor league career, his K rate (24.3) was higher than the league average while showing more failure in this area in majors in 2018 (41.5 percent). His walk rate (10.5) does project well along with his high CTBA and AVH in the minors. This season Brett will have a good chance to win a starting job in the majors if he gets his strikeouts under control. Kansas City doesn't have much better than him on the major league roster in the middle of their batting order giving Phillips a great opportunity to hit in a desirable part of the lineup. On his minor league resume, he has batting average, a swing path to deliver 30+ HRs, and double-digit speed. This combination of skills should be attractive to any Fantasy owner. Player to watch this spring while being a viable bench option in April if he makes the big league club. I have visions of a 20/80/20 player with some batting average risk in his first full season in the majors.

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The writing on Hamilton’s value was on the wall in my first high-stakes event last year. He fell in my lap for $19, and I felt regret for the rest of the auction and the regular season. Cinci pushed him to the bottom of the batting order early in the year. Billy never found his previous rhythm in steals (34) while losing some of his approach (K rate – 23.7 – career high). He took the most walks (8.3) in his time in the majors. In his career, Hamilton has never been intentionally walked. Billy struggled against lefties (.211 with two HRs and 14 RBI over 142 at-bats) while not offering any upside vs. RH pitching (.246 with two HRs and 15 RBI over 362 at-bats). The change to the AL may do him some good or at least unlock his lost value in stolen bases. Hamilton has difference maker speed while being a liability in batting average, HRs, and RBI. The Royals don’t look structured to give him a top of an order opportunity to help his production in runs. This draft season he’ll be a value for the right team structure as his ADP sits at 174 in the high-stakes 15-team drafts with a range of 100 to 296. There’s something to be said for a Judy base stealer in waiting if he falls late enough in drafts. Possible .250 with 80 runs, five HRs, 40 RBI, and 50+ steals.

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(Update: Perez is out for the season with an elbow injury that required TJ surgery.) Last year Perez missed the first three weeks of the season with a left knee injury. He overcame his missed time by seeing more games at DH (30) to keep him in the line up on more nights. Salvador posted same production in HRs (27) and RBI (80), but his CTBA (.299) was the lowest of his career. His AVH (1.867) was a career-high while remaining in a range to deliver 30+ HRs with 550 at-bats. His walk rate (3.1) remains low while failing to match his career resume (16.0) in his K rate (19.9) for the third straight year. Perez repeated his fly ball rate (45.0) for the fourth straight season with no major jump in his HR/FB rate (14.8). Even with success in power, his runs fell into the liability column for the seventh straight season. Late in the year, he battled a left thumb injury that required surgery in late September. Over the last five years, Salvador had over 500 at-bats in four seasons, which is an edge for the catching position. Pretty much a 25/75 player with batting average and run risk with a chance to repeat his high level of at-bats by seeing more days at DH.

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After showing some upside in 2016 and 2017 (.273 with 93 runs, 17 HRs, 100 RBI, and 33 SBs over 799 at-bats), Owings lost his way last year. His CTBA (.282) was career low by a wide margin with regression in his average hit rate (1.466) and RBI rate (10). Chris did take more walks (7.8 percent – career best) with more deterioration in his K rate (24.3). His failure was tied to a huge step back in value against RH pitching (.162 with two HRs and 12 RBI over 151 at-bats). Over six years in the majors, Owings hit .250 with 31 HRs, 196 RBI, and 70 SBs over 1,960 at-bats. His minor league resume (.294 with 49 HRs, 241 RBI, and 56 SBs over 2,129 at-bats) suggested more upside in power with more success in batting average. This season he may emerge as the better option at third base for the Royals while ultimately working as a utility infield and outfielder.

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In 2017, Bonifacio flashed power with the Royals (17 HRs with over 384 at-bats), but he has short RBI rate (11). Jorge had a nice run over 247 at bats (.267 with 12 HRs and 29 RBI) before losing his way in limited at-bats over the last two months of the seasons (.231 over 91 at-bats with three HRs and six RBI). During his bad run, Jorge had 33 Ks. On the year in the majors, his K rate (28.0) was much higher than his minor league career (21.4) with a league average walk rate (8.3). Last year major league baseball suspended him for 80 games for performance-enhancing drugs. When Jorge returned to the majors, the juice was no longer in his swing (.225 with four HRs and 23 RBI over 236 at-bats) with a slight improvement in his approach (K rate – 26-3 and walk rate – 10.7). Over nine seasons in the minors, Bonifacio hit .270 with 65 HRs, 401 RBI, and 45 SBs over 2,802 at-bats with a league average approach at the plate. Bonifacio could very well hit his way into the starting lineup on most days. His minor league AVH and CTBA give him a chance at a .260 average with a 20/70 skill set if given a full time starting job.

Other Options

Cameron Gallagher (C) – Gallagher expected to be the backup catcher for Kansas City in 2019. He is a former second-round pick (2011) who hit .247 in his 1,851 at-bats in the minors with 30 HRs, 202 RBI, and five SBs. His approach grades well (9.1 percent walk rate and 12.3 percent K rate), but he needs to do more with the ball at the plate to earn more playing time. Over 87 at-bats in the majors, Cameron hit .218 with two HRs and 12 RBI.

Cheslor Cuthbert (3B) – Cuthbert struggled with injuries over the last two seasons in the majors, which led to a possible missing opportunity for everyday at-bats. Over four years in the majors, Cheslor hit .252 with 76 runs, 18 HRs, 79 RBI, and two SBs over 767 at-bats while showing slightly better than the major league average in his approach. Cuthbert hit .262 with 61 HRs, 340 RBI, and 31 SBs over 2,377 at bats. In 2019, he competes for a bench role with also an outside chance at third base. Only 15/60 player with some batting average risk if ever given a starting major league job.

Bubba Starling (OF) – Starling was selected in the first round in 2011 as the fifth overall pick. Over seven seasons in the minors, Bubba hit .236 with 62 HRs, 266 RBI, and 72 SBs in 2,223 at-bats. Starling still strikes out too much (27.2 percent). Last year he missed a couple of months of the season with another oblique issue plus an extended period due to a broken finger on his left hand.

Brian Goodwin (OF) – In 2017, Goodwin gave Washington some productive at-bats (.251 with 41 runs, 13 HRs, 30 RBI, and six SBs over 251 at-bats). His success in the counting categories projects well over a full season. Last year he struggled to repeat his success in the majors (.239 with six HRs, 25 RBI, and four SBs over 159 at-bats). Brian has a league average walk rate (8.2), but he does strike out too much (27.9 percent). Over seven seasons in the minors, Goodwin hit .252 with 55 HRs, 261 RBI, and 76 SBs over 2,123 at-bats. Viable platoon option in the majors with steaky value.

Pitchers

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After a nice move in 2016 over his first 19 starts (2.61 ERA and .978 WHIP with 126 Ks in 120.2 innings), Duffy hasn't been the same pitcher since. Over his last two seasons, he went 17-22 with a 4.36 ERA and 271 Ks over 301.1 innings with most of the damage coming in 2018 (4.88 ERA) due to a huge step back in his walk rate (4.1). After the 2017 season, he has surgery in early in October to clean up his left elbow. His season started with poor results over his first ten starts (6.88 ERA and 14 HRs allowed over 51 innings). Other than two bad starts (12 runs and 20 baserunners over 12 innings), Danny threw the ball much better over his next 11 games (2.58 ERA and 62 Ks over 69.2 innings). After another seven poor starts (6.55 ERA), the Royals shut him down for the rest of the season with a bum left shoulder. His AFB (93.1) was a tick over 2017 (92.8) while falling short of his success in 2016 (94.8). His only pitch of value last year was his curveball (.213 BAA). Duffy is a fly ball pitcher (42.6 percent – 41.6 in his career) with struggles with HRs in two of the last three seasons (2016 – 1.4 HR/9 rate and 2018 – 1.3 HR/9 rate). I can't trust his health or his arm, but he could rebound with better command. Avoid for me in 2019 even if he's looking better in spring training.

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Junis didn't have a great resume in the minors headed in 2017 (4.40 ERA with 455 Ks over 539 innings). In 2017, Jake started to shine at AAA (2.92 ERA over 71 innings) thanks to a spike in his K rate (10.9 - 8.0 in his minor league career). Junis struggled with home runs (9) over his first six starts in the majors, which led to a low 6.00 ERA and a poor batting average against (.299). After a trip back to the minors, his game had more value over his last 11 games with Kansas City (3.61 ERA and 50 Ks over 62.1 innings). Last year Jake ended up being a tease for Fantasy owners. He posted a 3.62 ERA over his first 74.2 innings with 71 Ks, but disaster remained in his stat line (12 HRs allowed). Five starts later (9.33 ERA over 27 innings), Junis served up a quick dozen HRs pushing his season ERA to 5.13. After the All-Star break, Junis posted a 3.35 ERA with 72 Ks over 75.1 innings while cleaning up his seat deposits (eight HRs). His arm didn’t offer an edge against either righties (.251 BAA and 19 HRs over 346 at-bats) or lefties (.278 BAA and 13 HRs over 342 at-bats). His AFB (91.1) ranks below the league average with batters having success against his sinker (.336 BAA) and four-seamer (.320 BAA). Jake had an edge with his slider (.179 BAA), but 11 of his mistakes ended up in the hands of fans. Junis has the walk rate (2.2) and K rate (8.3) to post a sub 3.75 ERA with 175+ Ks if he cleans up his command in the strike zone.

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Kennedy pitched poorly over the last two seasons (8-22 with a 5.06 ERA and 236 Ks over 273.2 innings) while struggling with HRs (54). Last year he had a slight rebound with his walk rate (3.0) while his K rate (7.9) came in below his career average. Ian missed two months of the season with an oblique. His season started well over his first seven starts (2.92 ERA and 35 Ks over 37 innings). Four disaster starts (27 runs and 39 baserunners over 18.2 innings) over next five games led to his ERA being hammered down to 6.08. Kennedy rebounded with a 3.20 ERA over his last 59 innings with 48 Ks. On the year, he allowed two runs or fewer in 13 starts. Both RH (.273 BAA) and LH (.257 BAA) batters had success against him with most of the HR damage coming from righties (13 over 245 at-bats). His AFB (91.9) remains over his career average (90.9). His low volume changeup (.143 BAA) was his best pitch with some success with his curveball (.240 BAA). Ian has had an up and down career in the majors while having the arm to get major league batters out when throwing more strikes. Worth a flier as a backend starter in deep leagues as he did enough in 2018 to rebound this year. Possible sub 3.75 ERA while still having WHIP risk.

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Lively was exceptional in 2016 between AA and AAA (18-5 with a 2.69 ERA and 139 Ks over 170.2 innings). He now has three years of experience at AAA (21-12 with a 2.97 ERA and 219 Ks over 266.2 innings). Last year he earned a spot in the Phillies starting rotation out of spring training, but he struggled in five starts in April (6.85 ERA and 1.86 WHIP over 23.2 innings with 22 Ks). After a DL stint with a back injury, Philadelphia sent him back to AAA. In mid-July, he suffered a right shoulder injury that appeared to end his season. After being released in early September, the Royals picked him up off waivers. Over 6.2 innings in relief over the second half of September, Lively allowed one run and 12 baserunners with five Ks. His AFB (91.4) is short while offering a curveball and slider. Over six seasons in the minors, Ben went 49-30 with a 3.00 ERA and 612 Ks over 659.1 innings. I expect him to win a starting job this spring with a chance to have success in the majors.

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After struggling in 2016 at High A (4.47 ERA) and in 2017 at AA (4.68 ERA), Keller made the jump to the majors last year. Over his first 12 games as a reliever, Brad posted a 2.01 ERA with 13 Ks in 22.1 innings. Kansas City pushed him into the starting rotation in late May, but he needed some time to work up his pitch count. Keller went 8-5 over his 19 starts over the last four months of the season with a 3.29 ERA and 80 Ks over 115 innings. Batters hit .260 against him with a high walk rate (3.3) as a starter. He struggled the most with lefties (.268 BAA) with a poor BB:K ratio (35:46). His AFB (93.9) was better than expected when considering his low K rate (6.2). His best pitch was a slider (.221 BAA) while still lacking a third pitch (his minor league reports suggested his changeup has a chance to be an above average pitch). Over five seasons in the minors, Brad went 40-32 with a 3.77 ERA and 442 Ks over 541.1 innings. Keller out-pitched his minor league resume last year, but his game and velocity continue to improve. Without better command and a third pitch of value, he’ll have a tough time repeating his 2018 success. I’m intrigued by his direction, but he looks to be a couple of years away from being a trusted asset.

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Oaks has the look of a soft tosser when based on his low K rate (6.1) in the minors, but his hard sinker can reach the mid-90s. Trevor has been a strike-throwing machine (2.0 walks per nine) so far in his pro career. In 2016, he pitched at three different levels in the minors leading to a nice season (14-3 with a 2.74 ERA and 108 Ks over 151 innings). In 2017, he missed time with oblique and groin issues at AAA. Over three seasons at AAA, Oaks went 17-12 with a 3.30 ERA and 190 Ks over 275.1 innings. For him to gain more value in strikeouts, Trevor needs to add a swing and miss type pitch. For now, he relies on his sinker and serviceable cutter to induce a high volume of ground balls. Over his five seasons in the minors, Oaks went 39-21 with a 3.26 ERA with 362 Ks over 532.1 innings. Kendall Graveman type career path with lower valued secondary pitches. Last year he lost his command (3.1 walk rate) at AAA leading to a shorter K rate (4.9) and weakness in his WHIP (1.356). Plenty of work to be done to be a Fantasy option in 2019 while also failing in his limited experience in the majors (7.24 ERA).

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Over four seasons in the minors, Perrin went 14-22 with a 3.20 ERA and 341 Ks over 373.2 innings. He’s spent time between starting and relieving while offering a low walk rate (2.0) and a below-par K rate (8.2). Last year he pitched well in relief at AAA (2.59 ERA and 18 Ks over 24.1 innings) while showing weakness in his walk rate (4.4). Jon offers a low 90s fastball with some upside. His changeup is below average while still having a chance to be an edge. Perrin throws a slider as his third pitch, which is still a work in progress. Overall, Jon doesn’t look ready to help the major league roster in the starting rotation, but KC lacks viable options at the upper levels of their minor league system.

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The final stats for Boxberger in 2018 (4.39 ERA and 1.425 WHIP) didn’t point to a successful year, but Brad did convert 32 of 40 saves. Over the first five months of the year, he had a 3.45 ERA, 67 Ks, and 31 saves over 47 innings, which included five games where he allowed two runs or more. Boxberger pitched his way out of saves with a disastrous September (11.37 ERA) when he walked more batters (8) than he struck out (4). Brad had success against both RH (.220 BAA) and LH (.222) hitters, but he walked way too many batters (5.4 per nine) while allowing 1.5 HRs per nine. His AFB (91.4) was a career low while offering a plus changeup (.173 BAA). He has enough talent to have success in the 9th if he cleans up his walks. The Royals don’t have much in the bullpen to steal his job, but I would still proceed with caution.

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From 2015 to 2017, Peralta pitched his way out of the majors after going 17-25 with a 5.39 ERA and 205 Ks over 293.2 innings. He battled home runs (1.3 per nine) and a high walk rate (3.4), which led to a low K rate (6.3). Last year Wily didn’t have much better success at AAA (4.37 ERA) while walking 5.4 batters per nine. A jump in his K rate (10.0) help him earn another shot in the majors in the bullpen. Peralta converted all of his 14 saves chances in Kansas City with a respectable ERA (3.67). He walked 6.0 batter per nine, which screams job loss risk. His AFB (96.2) gives him a chance in a closing role. Hitters struggled to hit his slider (.139 BAA) and show me changeup (.056 BAA). With Brad Boxberger added to the roster, Peralta will need to work his way toward the 9th via the 7th and 8th innings.

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Newberry should be the Royals’ best option for saves this year. Over seven seasons in the minors, Jake went 26-13 with a 3.24 ERA, 341 Ks, and 42 SVs over 370 innings. His game started to come together at AA and AAA in 2018 (5-0 with a 1.63 ERA and 53 Ks over 49.2 innings) earning him a chance in the majors. With Kansas City, he looked overmatched (4.73 ERA) while walking too many batters (6.1 per nine). His AVB (93.8) was just above league average while featuring a slider with upside. For now, Newberry needs more work and experience before earning a full-time gig for saves.

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Staumont has been a failure as a starter in the minors in 2016 (4.23 ERA) and 2017 (5.56 ERA) while walking well over 7.0 batter per nine innings. Last year the Royals pushed him to the bullpen to hopefully shorten his pitching options to improve his command. His ERA (3.51) was much improved at AAA in 2018 with strength in his K rate (12.5). Josh did shave off some strikeouts (6.3 per nine) while being tougher to hit (.217 BAA). Staumont has a fastball that can reach the upper 90s with a plus curveball. His changeup even has a chance of developing into an asset. Without better command, he has no chance of being an edge at any level. This season Josh may develop into a late-inning arm with potential closing upside with a huge improvement in his strike-throwing ability.

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