Notes: Witt Jr. dazzles; Singer passes LA test

March 15th, 2021

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- First it was the 12-pitch walk to lead off Sunday night’s game. Then it was scoring from second on an infield error.

Then he launched a home run to deep left field.

Bobby Witt Jr., playing at second base, put on a show once again in Sunday night's 8-4 win over the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch. The Royals’ No. 1 prospect made Dodgers starter Julio Urías throw a dozen pitches in his first at-bat, with Witt down in the count and then battling back -- and crushing a ball that landed just foul down the left-field line -- for the walk. In his second at-bat, Witt crushed his third home run of Spring Training.

All in a night’s work.

“[The walk] was one of the best at-bats we’ve seen of the spring -- either side,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “He’s done that a couple times. We’ve seen him fight off pitches. Not a lot of people can do that. It was a very good at-bat. It ended up being even more impressive, if that’s possible, with the way he took the walk.”

Witt is hitting .333 in 11 games (27 at-bats) this spring, with a 1.046 OPS, and he’ll continue to get at-bats to show the Royals what he can do on the field and at the plate. It’s still unlikely Witt breaks with the team for Opening Day -- the No. 2 overall Draft pick in 2019 hasn’t played above rookie ball in the Royals farm system -- but he’s showing that he didn’t miss a step despite the canceled Minor League season last year. The Royals watched his progression throughout last summer at the alternate training site, and now it’s playing out against Major League pitchers in Spring Training.

Witt’s power is one thing, but it’s all of the little things he does well that impresses so many coaches and other teammates. The way he sprinted around third base in the first inning when he saw the error happen at shortstop, and the way he swiped the tag on Dodgers second baseman Gavin Lux to catch him stealing were two plays that stood out Sunday.

“I liked the baserunning,” Matheny said. “He gets a ball that doesn’t even leave the dirt. And I don’t know if [third-base coach] Vance [Wilson] could have stopped him. He’s thinking full speed ahead, the next 90 feet. It’s exactly what we’ve been talking about, just anticipating. He just did a lot of other things well, but you can’t deny that bat.”

Singer rights outing after long first
Royals starter faced the kind of test he wanted on Sunday, when the Dodgers started most of their regulars from last year's World Series-championship team. After allowing a solo shot to Corey Seager in a long first inning, Singer settled down and faced the minimum number of batters in his next three innings.

“That was definitely a really good lineup,” Singer said. “A lot of veteran hitters in there as well. So it was a good test, and I’m happy with the outcome. I felt like I made some really good pitches and competed well, too.”

Singer has seen a steady progression through his third outing and second Cactus League game this spring. He struck out six batters in four innings, giving him 11 strikeouts in seven innings.

“I think I got better as the game went on,” Singer said. “I felt really good there towards the end. Felt like I was making some good pitches down, and the slider was working really well. … I think I just focused on staying on top of the ball and staying in a straight line, almost. I felt like I was running away from the ball there in the first, and that was something I was struggling with last outing as well.”

Backfield action
The Royals had their second "B" game of the weekend on Sunday, this time on the Rangers’ side of the facility in Surprise, Ariz. Royals relievers Wade Davis, Scott Barlow and Jesse Hahn all threw one scoreless inning apiece. Pitching prospect Alec Marsh threw two innings and allowed one run.

Outfielder Jarrod Dyson and third baseman Hunter Dozier led off each inning, so both got five plate appearances. Dyson knocked a single up the middle and Dozier worked a walk.

“We tell the guys, ‘Tell us what you want.,’” Matheny said. “Obviously [Dyson] getting a little bit of a slow start, he’s wanting to get as many at-bats as he can in a controlled environment where you can lead off every inning. Dozier batted second every inning, just trying to get timing. So that’s something we’ll make available to the guys and give the rest of the at-bats to the younger players.”

Worth noting
• Michael A. Taylor, who was scratched from Thursday’s lineup with back stiffness, could be back in the lineup “as early as” Monday, Matheny said. The outfielder is healthy but has taken advantage of a few days off.

• Non-roster invitee Bubba Starling launched a first-pitch grand slam off of Dodgers reliever Alex Vesia in the first inning on Sunday, contributing to the Royals’ five-run inning, which included two hits and four strikeouts, as designated hitter Ryan McBroom reached first on a dropped third strike.