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Inbox: What does Royals' road map look like?

Beat reporter Jeffrey Flanagan answers questions from fans
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

When is the Royals' rebuild going to start? I don't consider it a rebuild now, given Kansas City has one of the oldest rosters in MLB.
-- @KCDave85

That is a fair point. But the Royals believed it would be unfair to certain prospects, such as Hunter Dozier, to push them to the big leagues. The rebuild/development stage will take place, for the most part, in the Minors this season with players such as Dozier, Adalberto Mondesi, Frank Schwindel, Ryan O'Hearn and Foster Griffin getting valuable playing time at Triple-A Omaha. Meanwhile, there will be some development at the big league level with players such as Tim Hill, Brad Keller, Cheslor Cuthbert, Jorge Soler and eventually Jorge Bonifacio.

When is the Royals' rebuild going to start? I don't consider it a rebuild now, given Kansas City has one of the oldest rosters in MLB.
-- @KCDave85

That is a fair point. But the Royals believed it would be unfair to certain prospects, such as Hunter Dozier, to push them to the big leagues. The rebuild/development stage will take place, for the most part, in the Minors this season with players such as Dozier, Adalberto Mondesi, Frank Schwindel, Ryan O'Hearn and Foster Griffin getting valuable playing time at Triple-A Omaha. Meanwhile, there will be some development at the big league level with players such as Tim Hill, Brad Keller, Cheslor Cuthbert, Jorge Soler and eventually Jorge Bonifacio.

:: Submit a question to the Royals Inbox ::

How much trouble is the pitching staff in this year?
-- @simonsaysjoe

It's hard to make many judgments after just four games. Ian Kennedy and Jakob Junis have turned in superb starts. Kelvin Herrera looks like the pre-2017 Herrera. Hill and Keller could be the real deal. Justin Grimm quickly has entered manager Ned Yost's circle of trust. I would expect Danny Duffy to bounce back from a poor Opening Day start. The staff might be better than you think.

Who are the first three guys you expect to be called up from Triple-A?
-- @AlexJMaggard

Left-hander Richard Lovelady seems like a safe bet. He could give the Royals a strong lefty duo with Hill for years to come. Once Mondesi (shoulder) gets healthy, he could see some time -- general manager Dayton Moore has said they want Mondesi to put in a full healthy season at Triple-A, but his talent could bubble him up to the bigs this season. If Schwindel continues to tear up the Pacific Coast League like he did last year (and he really impressed Yost this spring) the Royals may have to find room for him on the 40-man roster and call him up.

Does the Cody Asche trade [to the Yankees] mean Dozier will play more third base?
-- @richstarnes

Yost said during Spring Training that Dozier would split time between first base, third base and the outfield. The trade of Asche, the acquisition of outfielder Abraham Almonte, and the presence of Schwindel and O'Hearn (both first basemen) probably pushes Dozier more toward third base.

Is Nate Karns a future closer?
-- @royalrupert

I posed that question to Yost last week, and while the Royals have indicated Karns will pitch in the bullpen once he comes off the disabled list, they haven't ruled out the possibility he will return to the rotation one day. But Karns has the electric stuff to be a late-inning guy.

Flanny, Junis looked like a beast [Wednesday]. If the Royals are sellers at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, would they consider trading him?
-- @JoshMil71912496

Moore said at the Winter Meetings in December that virtually anyone was tradeable, including Danny Duffy, as the Royals try to restock their farm system. Seemingly that would include Junis. But even though the previous pitching coach had some reservations about Junis' ceiling, the Royals are becoming big believers that Junis could emerge as an upper-rotation guy for years to come. Duffy and Junis could be staples of a future rotation when the Royals compete again for the postseason.

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

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