With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Royals squad each day this week. Today's topic: Spring Training is here.SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Before the window closes and several potential free agents hit the open market, expect these Royals to produce one
With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Royals squad each day this week. Today's topic: Spring Training is here.
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Before the window closes and several potential free agents hit the open market, expect these Royals to produce one more valiant effort at another World Series championship.
Most of the roster adjusting is complete, and now the Royals, after a disappointing 81-81 season in 2016, are poised to go all-in for '17.
"I think it's going to be a fun year," general manager Dayton Moore said. "It's going to be a different type of team, but that is the way it is year to year. We're excited about this group. It has experience and knows how to win."
:: Spring Training 2017 preview ::
And to many of the Royals, getting back to the World Series would be the ultimate manner in which to honor Yordano Ventura, who died tragically in a car accident in January.
"I know I can speak for myself and the other guys," left-hander Danny Duffy said, "and I believe we will approach each game like it's the last game we'll ever play. That's to honor him."
While disappointed over 2016, manager Ned Yost maintains that effort and desire were never the issue last season.
"Never once did I think this group of players didn't give everything they had last season," Yost said. "But now, with a full offseason, I think this group will come back healthy and rested, and ready to go after another World Series championship."
Pitchers/catchers report date: Monday
Full squad report date: Thursday
First Spring Training game: Feb. 25 vs. Rangers in Surprise
New faces: Outfielder Jorge Soler, outfielder/DH Brandon Moss, right-hander Jason Hammel, right-hander Nathan Karns.
Moore has said often this offseason that he expects the offense to score more often and produce more home runs. The Royals believe they have six or seven players who can hit 20 or more homers, and that includes new additions Soler and Moss. Soler could be the next star in the making, at least that's what the Royals believed when they traded closer Wade Davis to the Cubs to get him.
Moss vows to strike out less and to use all fields. The presence of Moss and Soler without question deepens the Royals' offensive lineup.
"We've got a group that has experience and up and down the order," Moore said, "I see potential for big offensive years."
Moore is banking that more offense could offset some question marks in the rotation and the bullpen. Hammel is a proven No. 3 or 4 starter who has racked up over 500 innings over the past three seasons. Hammel may not be spectacular, but after the loss of Ventura, he gives the rotation stability. Karns hasn't won the fifth spot yet, but the Royals are hoping he has a breakthrough season in 2017.
Interesting non-roster invites: Relievers Al Alburquerque, Brandon League, Jonathan Sanchez, Chris Withrow and Bobby Parnell
As is the Royals' way, Moore and his scouts have opened invitations to names from yesterday. And quite often, they have found some gems among the scrap heap (Ryan Madson, Joe Blanton, Christopher Young, etc.). Chances are someone from this group will emerge in camp to make the 25-man roster. Sanchez had a disastrous first go-around with the Royals, but he was hitting 92-95 mph on the radar gun over the last year. And keep an eye on Withrow, now almost two years removed from Tommy John surgery -- he could be one of the surprises of camp.
Prospects to watch: Right-handers Kyle Zimmer and Josh Staumont, outfielders Hunter Dozier and Jorge Bonifacio, and outfielder/DH Peter O'Brien
Zimmer, a former first-round Draft pick with a long history of injuries, reports he is as pain-free as he has ever been after thoracic outlet syndrome surgery last summer -- what a pleasant surprise that would be for the Royals if he makes an impression in camp. Staumont and his 101-mph fastball have a decent chance of grabbing a bullpen spot. The 25th spot on the roster remains wide open -- a big spring from O'Brien, who has the power Moore suddenly is coveting, could make things interesting.
Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.