The Royals have given their fans few things to cheer about over the past decade, so the arrival of Alex Gordon is understandably being treated as a hopeful sign for fans that are much more used to depressing news. But the Royals have other prospects on the cusp of the big leagues as well.
Who’s Hot: It was hard to imagine that Gordon wouldn’t make the roster–especially after the Royals moved incumbent third baseman Mark Teahen to right field during spring training. But Gordon has made the decision easy by hitting .358/.459/.623 this spring. The Royals made it official last week, announcing that Gordon will be the team’s Opening Day third baseman. The only thing that came close to derailing Gordon this spring was a bad night of sleep. He woke up with a sore shoulder that forced him to miss some time.
At the plate, Billy Butler looked every bit as good as Gordon this spring. Butler hit .419/.514/.774 in 31 at-bats before being sent to minor league camp. Butler looked ready to hit in the majors right now, but his defense is still a work in progress.
Rule 5 pick Joakim Soria was the talk of winter ball when he threw a perfect game. He’s been nearly as impressive this spring, putting together a 15-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 15 innings to go with his 3.60 ERA. The Royals have already hinted that he will make the team, and the Padres seem resigned to losing him.
Who’s Not: When the Royals traded for Brian Bannister, he was expected to instantly step into the team’s rotation. He’s still likely to start in the rotation, but only because Luke Hudson will begin the season on the disabled list. Bannister has struggled to an 0-1, 10.03 record this spring with a scary 19 hits and five home runs allowed in 12 innings.
There’s nothing to complain about in first baseman Justin Huber’s spring. He hit .391/.444/.565 in 23 at-bats with only two strikeouts. But at this point it seems clear that Huber doesn’t really fit into the Royals plans. He’s blocked at first base by new acquisition Ryan Shealy, and a move to a corner outfield spot didn’t work out, as the former catcher showed that he’s not comfortable that far from home plate. He’s still working out some problems defensively at first as well.
Huber seems to be accepting his fate for now as he’s saying all the right things.
“Personally, my situation is not ideal,” he said. “But at this point, it’™s what does Justin Huber have to do to help the Royals win a game this year? That’™s the approach I’™m taking.”For me, especially on this team, I’™ve got to hit left-handers. I’™ve got to be able to come off of the bench; I’™ve got to be able to deal with limited game time. They’™re not handing out starting jobs like candy at the moment.”