No. 1 prospect Witt debuts vs. Guardians

April 7th, 2022

KANSAS CITY -- Bobby Witt Jr.’s debut is a monumental moment in Royals history, not just because he will become the youngest position player in franchise history to make his big league debut on Opening Day.

As the No. 1 prospect in baseball and the rare five-tool talent, Witt’s arrival is a big step in Kansas City’s vision of sustained success. And the time is here, with Witt starting at third base and batting second as the Royals kick off the 2022 season against the Guardians in MLB.TV's Free Game of the Day.

His debut is a long-awaited moment, despite Witt only being 21 years old and three years removed from the Draft. But his talent is obvious and continued improvement apparent. The Royals had no choice but to promote him after a standout Minor League season and impressive Spring Training. Now it’s time to see just how dynamic Witt is at the Major League level.

Here’s what else you need to know about Witt’s debut:

How can I watch the game?
The Guardians-Royals opener is on MLB.TV’s Free Game of the Day. The Royals’ television rights holder, Bally Sports Kansas City, will air the game on cable and on their website,

Listeners can also find the game on 610 Sports Radio and the Royals Radio Network in Kansas City.

Where will he hit in the lineup and how will the Royals use him?
Witt is hitting No. 2 and playing third base in his debut. The Royals would like to see him settle in at the hot corner, so don’t expect him to move around the infield every day, but he could fill in at shortstop or second base if needed.

What number will he wear?
Witt will wear No. 7, last worn by Maikel Franco in 2020.

Coincidence or not, No. 7 was actually the number Alex Gordon debuted in on April 2, 2007. Gordon switched to his iconic No. 4 in 2008.

Who will he be facing?
The Royals are facing Shane Bieber as the Guardians’ Opening Day starter. Bieber won the AL Cy Young Award in 2020 and has continued to be dominant, although last year he struggled with injuries. The right-hander has a 3.65 ERA in 56 2/3 innings against Kansas City, and the club’s familiarity with him will certainly help Witt’s approach.

Why is Witt such a big deal?
Witt truly is a five-tool player, a term that’s thrown around a lot in the scouting world but sometimes is hard to see play out on the diamond. But he encompasses it. He has an unnatural ability to make consistent contact, has the ability to hit for average and power, and is such a dynamic player that he can impact the game on offense and defense on any given night. He is a plus runner, with speed that sneaks up on you as he runs out an infield hit, so he will fit in well with a Royals lineup that uses its speed to influence the game. Witt is an above-average defender with his quick hands, instincts and range. Kansas City stills view him as its shortstop in the long-term plan, but he’s shown he can handle third base.

Witt is a well-rounded player. Some scouts have described his talent as generational, and certainly the Royals view him as the future face of the franchise. That’s why he’s a big deal, although talking to him, you wouldn’t hear all that. Scouts and officials rave about his makeup, but more so his passion for the game. And that gives him an even bigger chance to succeed.

“This kid is so special,” one scout said after a Cactus League game this spring. “You have a hard time finding a flaw, just because he adjusts so well. There’s a lot of hype around him, but it’s all real. He’s a special and exciting talent.”

What can we expect from him at the plate?
One of the first things that stands out about Witt when he’s going right is his bat speed. It looks effortless, but incredibly quick, allowing him to make contact even when his timing is off (which isn’t often, either). The short, compact and low-maintenance swing helps, too; there isn’t much wasted movement, which lets him get to the ball quicker with more strength. When he makes contact, it’s hard contact, and he drives the ball to all fields with excellent barrel control. Witt has raw power to the pull side and has tapped into it more over the past year.

He has an aggressive approach at the plate but has trimmed his swing-and-miss tendencies since Rookie ball -- a testament to his ability to make in-game adjustments and the work he’s put in with Royals coaches to do so. There are bound to be struggles in the Majors as he faces better pitching, but expect Witt to adapt quickly as he gets consistent at-bats. And if he doesn’t make an impact at the plate right away, he’ll find a way to do so in the field or on the bases.

What can we expect from him on defense?
Witt has been a solid defensive shortstop at every level, with good body control and quick hands to go along with a plus, accurate arm that saw him hit mid-90s on the mound in high school. His versatility is apparent, too, and while he’s played primarily shortstop, he put most of his work in at third base over the offseason and in the spring to get ready for this opportunity. Third-base coach Vance Wilson has helped Witt with timing and positioning to prepare him for the hot corner.

Where is he from?
Witt hails from Colleyville, Texas, and attended Colleyville Heritage High School, where he was on the varsity baseball team all four years and won the state championship right after he was drafted in 2019.

He comes from a baseball family: His dad, Bobby Sr., pitched for 16 years in the Majors, predominantly with Texas -- which selected him with the No. 3 overall pick in the 1985 Draft -- Oakland and Arizona, where he won a World Series. Bobby Jr. also has three older sisters, all of whom are married to or are dating a baseball player. He picked up a bat when he was around 3 years old and hasn’t put it down since.

How did the Royals acquire him?
On June 3, 2019, the Royals selected Witt with the No. 2 overall pick in the MLB Draft. They signed him a week later for the full slot value of $7,789,900, the second-highest Draft bonus at the time since Gerrit Cole got $8 million from the Pirates in 2011.