While the Major League Baseball lockout comes with a ton of negatives for owners and players alike, there is one positive spin that can be turned in regards to the ongoing situation.
Teams' minor league systems will be garnering extra attention.
That certainly applies to the Kansas City Royals. While marquee prospects such as MJ Melendez and Nick Pratto are already on the club's 40-man roster and won't be eligible to play in Triple-A, top prospect Bobby Witt Jr. is still on Omaha's roster. He brings quite the draw by himself but when combined with one of the most successful farm systems in all of baseball, there will be ample reason to follow the Royals' minor league development until the MLB club is playing. President of baseball operations, Dayton Moore, recently touched on why remaining focused during this time will be so important for those striving for eventual spots on the big-league roster.
"When you pursue this game the way our players do, you want as few distractions as possible," Moore said in reference to the lockout. "You want them to just focus every single day on just developing their skills at a level that will allow them to make it to the major leagues and be relentless about the fundamentals of the game, which is going to keep them in the major leagues. Our goal, our challenge, is to make sure that they stay focused on just that and not be consumed with some of the noise that's out there."
In a normal year, the majority of a franchise's primary attention would be with its MLB team. Even the Royals, an organization that's been stuck in a bit of a rebuilding phase, has to field as competitive of a club as possible. The feature is the best talent in the system competing at the foremost level in the system. As of right now, that option isn't on the table. Consequently, while less than ideal, the Royals must temporarily shift the bulk of that attention to the minors. Moore recognizes the magnitude of that opportunity.
"When you step on that field, you've got a very small window of opportunity to get better," Moore said. "When you step on the field, one of two things are happening: you're practicing good habits, or you're practicing bad habits. You want to be really, really focused when you're on the field so you can continue to get better. We're just going to continue to try to eliminate the distractions of our players so they can focus on playing. That's the talent pool we have right now, it's the minor league players. I trust all of our people to make sure that we're doing the necessary things to improve them and make them better."
Over the past couple of seasons, the Royals have completely revamped their minor league hitting development programs to wide-scale praise. Although the results haven't shown at the highest possible place for them to do so, the farm system is churning out better production than it has in a while. The new wave of prospects is here, as is the expectation of stellar play. As far as Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A are concerned, this lockout may contain a silver lining. If that's the case, and even those ranking highly within the team hierarchy are able to provide additional support, an already bright 2022 could prove to be even brighter.