Nick Pratto's Swing Adjustments Lead To Results
First baseman Nick Pratto needed the 2020 minor league season that never happened to redeem himself after a rough 2019 campaign.
The 2017 first-rounder from Huntington Beach (Calif.) High was one of several prospects who struggled significantly at High-A Wilmington. He batted .191/.278/.310 in 125 games with a 35% strikeout rate.
The 22-year-old went right to work in the fall of 2019. Royals hitting instructors helped him develop a new approach and mindset at the plate, creating a more efficient bat path to allow his bat to get into the zone sooner.
The improvement for the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Pratto continued in 2020 with his work at the alternate training site and later at the instructional league at Kauffman Stadium.
The rest of the baseball world got a spring training sneak preview into the improvements made by Pratto. While the normal small-sample caveats apply, Pratto’s numbers this spring were undeniably impressive. He hit .345/.406/.862 with four home runs in 29 at-bats.
A scout from an American League club noted that Pratto was working hard to get into favorable counts and was comfortable driving fastballs to the middle of the field instead of relying on a pull-heavy approach.
That Pratto has been able to carry over his hard work from last summer and fall is no surprise to Royals' evaluators.
“Everyone is seeing what we saw last summer in the growth and in the maturity . . . (he’s) obviously doing it on this stage,” Royals director of hitting performance/player development Alec Zumwalt said. “He’s also very realistic in saying, ‘This is spring training. I’m going to do this in the season.’ He wants to get out there and do it. It’s not about proving anything. He knows what he can do.”
Pratto is not the only holdover from that Wilmington team who needs this season of redemption, and his leadership has been significant for teammates MJ Melendez and Seuly Matias.
“They’ve all worked incredibly hard,” Zumwalt said. “At the center of all that is Nick. They all feed off Nick, and he’s been a really, really good leader.”
— Outfield prospect Seuly Matias was another hitting prospect who struggled at Wilmington in his 2019 campaign that was cut short by injury. While his spring training results represent an even smaller sample than Pratto’s numbers, his batting total of 5-for-14 with one home run is still encouraging. But perhaps his most significant at-bat came recently in a backfield B-game with few observers when the native Dominican homered on an 0-2 count off Rangers big league righthander Mike Foltynewicz.