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5 ROYALS

Author:

ENEMY LINES

A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP KANSAS CITY

Their offense is putrid. It's going to be a long year.... Salvador Pérez has made a concerted effort to stay on pitches and go the other way, and he's becoming more of an offensive threat. He still moves well behind the plate.... Lucas Duda is not really the answer to anybody's hopes or dreams. He's a platoon-type player you can hit against righthanded pitching.... Whit Merrifield uses all fields. He steps in the box like he's got some veteran swagger to him.... Mike Moustakas has average range and hands, but he gives them plus home run production, which they'll really need.... Jorge Soler is a teaser-type talent. He's got all sorts of tools, but it never comes together ... It looked like there was a lot of guess hitting during Alex Gordon's at bats, where he was late to velocity.... Danny Duffy's changeup was the best pitch he had when we faced him, plus at times. But he's never given you close to 200 innings, and you're asking him to take on a higher workload at the front of the rotation.... Ian Kennedy is going to get hit if he makes mistakes in the middle of the zone. He's at best a good fifth starter in a decent rotation. It's a stretch for him to be a No. 2.... Kelvin Herrera's velocity is 96--99, so the arm strength is back. If he can incorporate the curveball, that'll be a weapon for him. It looked pretty good.

THE PAYOFF PITCH

Two seasons removed from their world championship, the Royals are entering a rebuild. Some familiar faces—Danny Duffy, Alcides Escobar, Alex Gordon, Kelvin Herrera, Mike Moustakas—remain, but with the loss of most of their core players, this isn't a contending team. It could still be entertaining, though, especially if Adalberto Mondesi, son of ex-Dodgers star Raúl, plays second base. In just 60 plate appearances in 2017, reaching base 12 times, he attempted a whopping seven steals and swiped five bases. Mondesi has 116 steals in six seasons in the minors. It remains to be seen if he can manage the strike zone in the majors. A .305 career batting average at Triple A is leavened by 105 strikeouts and just 18 unintentional walks. If he gets regular at bats in K.C., Mondesi could lead the AL in stolen bases.

OVER / UNDER

71.5

The Royals won 80 games last season and were trying. Now that K.C. is in clear rebuilding mode—and will be deadline sellers—70 wins is pushing it.

THE LINEUP

1. LEFTFIELD

Alex Gordon

.236 BA/14 HR/6 SB

2. SECOND BASE

Whit Merrifield

.277 BA/12 HR/28 SB

3. FIRST BASE

Lucas Duda

.237 BA/.484 SLG/22 HR

4. CATCHER

Salvatore Pérez

.260 BA/.462 SLG/23 HR

5. THIRD BASE

Mike Moustakas

.267 BA/.496 SLG/28 HR

6. CENTERFIELD

Paulo Orlando

.261 BA/5 HR/6 SB

FANTASY BREAKOUT

7. DH

Jorge Soler

.235 BA/.432 SLG/20 HR

Oozes potential but needs consistent production. He'll get all the ABs he can handle.

8. RIGHTFIELD

Jon Jay

.272 BA/5 HR/5 SB

9. SHORTSTOP

Alcides Escobar

.258 BA/5 HR/9 SB

THE STAFF

1. LH STARTER

Danny Duffy

10 W/4.31 ERA/1.30 WHP

2. RH STARTER

Ian Kennedy

8 W/5.08 ERA/1.41 WHP

3. RH STARTER

Jason Hammel

8 W/5.02 ERA/1.37 WHP

4. RH STARTER

Nathan Karns

5 W/4.43 ERA/1.34 WHP

CLOSER

Kelvin Herrera

31 SV/3.74 ERA/9.0 K9

THE SKIPPER

Ned Yost