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The Young Royals Made Lots of Noise in a Successful Week

Led by the youngsters, the Royals picked up a series win in a four-game set against Boston for the first time since 2013.

The Kansas City Royals just finished one of their most exciting weeks in a few years and capped it off by winning three of four against the struggling Red Sox. It was a huge series victory, but it was the performances by the rookies that has Kansas City feeling giddy about the possibilities of the future. 

There was a lot to unpack from the week, but these are the things that stood out to me. 

MJ Melendez experience

Royals fans saw positives from each rookie during the past week, but no performance stood out like what MJ Melendez put together on Sunday. He led the way in the offensive explosion by going 2-for-3 with 6 RBIs — a career-high and most ever by a catcher hitting in the leadoff spot. He also blasted a huge three-run home run in the fifth inning to blow open the game. 

Melendez is settling into the leadoff spot very nicely, hitting a homer twice last week and picking up jacks in back-to-back games for already the fourth time in his young career. You can count on Melendez putting together a quality at-bat every single time he steps in the box. He's starting to use the whole field with more consistency, which will only make him a more difficult out as his career progresses.

Nick Pratto walk-off

Nick Pratto closed out Saturday night's 5-4 win with his first career walk-off, crushing a 3-2 pitch over the center field wall. Not only was this huge for the confidence of the young rookie, but this was the most excitement Royals fans have seen from this group all season. The excitement from the rookies is contagious for the whole clubhouse.

I'm not just bringing up this moment because of the excitement of the team. This team is figuring out how to win close games at the big-league level and I can't stress enough how important that is. The core group of rookies is very close, as it has progressed through the system together (much like the core of the 2015 World Series team). Although this group didn't see as much success in the win-loss column as the past core, one can sense how much these guys care for each other and how much winning means to them. 

The rest of the youngsters

Melendez and Pratto were not the only rookies to shine this past week. Rookies picked up all 12 of the Royals' RBIs on Sunday, but it was two other rookies that really stood out.

Michael Massey is really starting to settle in at the plate in the bigs. After going 2-for-3 on Sunday, Massey is 8-for-23 with the Royals and has shown a consistent ability to put the ball in play and spray it to all parts of the field. Couple this with his solid glove defensively, and Massey can be relied on consistently to be in the lineup for KC.

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Kyle Isbel has been up-and-down for most of the season but he put together one of his best series of the season over the weekend, going 5-for-9 with two triples, a double, 4 RBIs and a go-ahead home run in the fourth inning on Saturday. He consistently hit the ball hard all weekend and got some elevation in his swing, hence the elevated extra-base hit numbers. He even drove a two-run double off the base of the right-field wall against a left-hander, which has been a struggle of his all season. If he can put together stretches like this more often, Isbel can be a much bigger part of the future than many think. 

Salvador Perez is doing Salvador Perez things again

It hasn't been the best season for Salvador Perez. He has only appeared in 67 games so far thanks in large part to two stints on the IL, and he's looked lost at the plate for a majority of the time he's been on the field. 

This isn't what we saw to start last week, though. Perez destroyed three home runs during the week, including two that went longer than 450 feet. He also hit one of the most interesting homers in the history of Kauffman Stadium, lining a ball 110 mph down the left-field line that hit off a box below the foul pole to give the Royals the lead on Thursday night. While MLB later said this was the incorrect call, no one knew what the ruling should be and I doubt we see this scenario ever again at Kauffman, especially with the move downtown seeming imminent at this point. 

Perez's approach at the plate will probably never get better, but seeing him crush pitches consistently again brings a smile to every Royals fan's face.

Trade deadline 

It wasn't the trade deadline that most of Kansas City wanted. With many players being available on the market, the Royals were only able to strike deals to send Whit Merrifield to Toronto, Cam Gallagher to San Diego and Emmanuel Rivera to Arizona (which was not on a single deadline bingo card). Andrew Benintendi was also sent to New York to wear pinstripes the week prior.

The return for Merrifield was pretty solid: a 24-year-old speedy youngster in Samad Taylor and a 23-year-old right-handed pitcher that has already made his MLB debut in Max Castillo. Merrifield seemed more than ready to play for another team, so I'm pleased that a deal got done.

Michael A. Taylor, Scott Barlow, Josh Staumont and Brad Keller were not traded. This is something that was kind of frustrating but with the progression of this young core, the Royals may be closer to being a competitive team than most fans would have guessed last week. 

What's next?

The Royals continue a season-long 11-game homestand on Tuesday when they start a four-gamer with the Chicago White Sox before closing things out with a three-game series over the weekend against the red-hot Los Angeles Dodgers. While this past week was a ton of fun, we will continue to learn a lot about this young group's competitiveness over the next week.