This catching prospect is living his hometown dreams with KC

February 22nd, 2024

This story was excerpted from Anne Rogers’ Royals Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- vividly remembers running from field to field at the Royals’ Spring Training complex in Surprise, Ariz., when he was a young fan, trying to see as many players as he could and watch as many batting practice sessions as possible.

He says he was too shy to ask for autographs, though. Especially for his favorite catcher: Salvador Perez.

Now Jensen, the Royals’ No. 7 prospect and a Kansas City native, is working alongside Perez and learning from him at his first big league Spring Training.

From seeking autographs to now signing them, Jensen seems to have come full circle.

“It’s a surreal experience being 20 years old and being able to be in here with these guys, working with Salvy every day, Freddy [Fermin], Logan [Porter],” Jensen said. “And they’ve welcomed me with open arms, and it’s been awesome. Even though I’m a younger guy, they respect me like I’m just as old as them, and have helped me a lot. Being with them, it’s just been awesome. I’m blessed to be in this position.”

Jensen grew up in Kauffman Stadium’s backyard, attending Park Hill High School. His dream of playing professional baseball never went away, and in 2021, the Royals made it a reality when they drafted him in the third round and signed him away from his Louisiana State University commitment. Not only was Jensen going to play pro ball, but he was going to do it for his hometown team.

Jensen spent 2023 at High-A Quad Cities and slashed .211/.356/.363 with 20 doubles, 11 home runs, an 18.5% walk rate and a 24.1% strikeout rate in 116 games. He has a unique blend of above-average power and an incredibly good eye, and he admitted he might have been too passive last year to let that power show in games.

Watching video this offseason and working with Royals hitting coach Alec Zumwalt in Kansas City has him in a better spot this spring.

“Especially at the beginning of last year, I was watching some pitches that I should be swinging at, especially early in the count,” Jensen said. “I think my eye is good enough to where I can still get my walks and I can still make good decisions, but I need to not miss out on those early pitches in the count that I can do damage on. The ones I know I can drive. I’ve been hitting off those tough machines, whether it’s high velocity or breaking balls. Making sure I can swing at those pitches especially when they’re close to the middle.

“I know I can do damage on those pitches. Really, I just have to trust myself and trust my swing, trust my barrel through the zone and things will take care of itself.”