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Schwindel keeps 'cooking' at plate for Royals

MLB.com @FlannyMLB

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Earlier this month, Mike Sweeney and George Brett hosted an invitation-only cookout at Brett's condo here.

You had to be a Royals first baseman to get an invite.

View Full Game Coverage

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Earlier this month, Mike Sweeney and George Brett hosted an invitation-only cookout at Brett's condo here.

You had to be a Royals first baseman to get an invite.

View Full Game Coverage

For young players such as Frank Schwindel, Ryan O'Hearn, Hunter Dozier and Samir Duenez, and even for veteran Lucas Duda, it was a night to remember.

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"Just to be in that group for a night was pretty cool," Schwindel said.

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And the cookout had another effect: Almost every player soon after started raking the ball.

Well for Schwindel, it was more of a delayed effect. He immediately went into an 0-for-18 funk.

"I think it took a little while for the Kansas City steaks to kick in," Schwindel said, smiling.

They have now in a big fashion. Schwindel, 25, is perhaps the hottest hitter in Spring Training. He entered Thursday in a 13-for-17 stretch with six homers and 16 RBIs, raising his average to .378.

Schwindel's first Spring Training invite has become a memorable one.

Video: KC@CLE: Schwindel slugs a long solo homer to tie game

"Most new spots I'll start a little slow," he said. "That's been the pattern. But I just try to stick to the same approach -- get a good pitch to hit until you start heating up."

Schwindel's hot streak has caught everyone's eyes, from fans to the coaching staff.

Royals manager Ned Yost knew of Schwindel mostly from his Minor League statistics. Schwindel won the organization's George Brett Hitter of the Year Award in 2017 when he combined to hit .329 between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha with 43 doubles, 23 home runs and 97 RBIs.

"You look at him now and you say, 'It's just Spring Training,'" Yost said. "But this looks legit. It really does."

Schwindel has been teeing up all levels of pitching. On Wednesday night, he went deep against the Indians' Carlos Carrasco.

 

 

Schwindel described it as a confidence builder.

"I feel like I can hit anybody," Schwindel said. "I shouldn't be scared of anyone honestly, but it's good to know you can hit the Major League guys."

Schwindel remains a long shot to crack the 25-man roster, especially with Duda on the team. And Schwindel isn't even on the 40-man roster yet.

Video: KC@CLE: Schwindel singles in Arteaga for fourth RBI

But Yost believes Schwindel isn't that far away.

"There's room for growth defensively," Yost said. "But I've seen improvement."

Schwindel also knows he has work to do at the plate. He walked just 16 times last season in over 500 plate appearances. "Yeah, mix in a walk or two here and there [would be good]," he said.

But Schwindel is confident with his swing, unorthodox as it is. In an age when many players are using a top-hand release method in their swings to generate more loft, Schwindel remains top-hand heavy. But it works for him.

"It's all about comfort for me," he said. "I don't like watching a lot of video of me because sometimes I don't even like how it looks. But it doesn't have to be pretty. It just has to be effective."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Frank Schwindel