3 Spring Training camp takeaways for Royals

March 16th, 2020

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Spring Training has been suspended indefinitely, and the start of the regular season is being pushed back. But the Royals did learn many things during the four-plus weeks of camp before the pause.

Here’s a look at some areas where the club was able to or will be able to gain more clarity.

Bullpen looks better
The Royals knew one area in which they had to improve dramatically going into 2020: The bullpen. In 2019, only one team in the American League had a worse bullpen (Baltimore), so if the Royals are to make a jump in 2020, it has to start with the relief corps. So far, so good. Free-agent signings and have been superb so far this spring. Rosenthal, hitting 99-102 mph on the radar gun, was not touched for a run in five spring outings. Holland was 3-0 with a 4.50 ERA, though that ERA ballooned after one shaky outing. Holland’s out pitch -- his slider -- looked as good as it ever did during his first go-around with the Royals. And right-hander , who also can hit 102 mph, had 10 strikeouts in six innings and did not allow a run. The back end of the bullpen -- (30 saves), and -- was solid down the stretch last year. Add Rosenthal, Holland and Staumont, and the Royals could be much better in the ‘pen in 2020.

First base looks solid
The Royals went into camp somewhat uncertain about the first-base position. New skipper Mike Matheny raved about 's potential all offseason. And O’Hearn didn’t disappoint in camp. O’Hearn hit .343 with a 1.252 OPS in 13 Cactus League games, including five home runs. All indications point to O’Hearn being the primary starter. But Matheny talked early in camp about a possible soft platoon at first base with , and by the time camp was suspended, that possibility seemed more like reality. McBroom, who has Minor League options, wowed Matheny and his coaching staff in camp, hitting .314 with a 1.026 OPS. McBroom had three doubles and three home runs, and most of his outs were loud. A one-time question mark to make the 26-man roster, McBroom became a lock.

Mondesi, Perez will be ready
Two big injury concerns going into camp dealt with shortstop (shoulder surgery) and catcher (Tommy John surgery). Perez obviously was further ahead in his rehab (he had TJ surgery last March while Mondesi’s shoulder surgery was in October), and he was able to play in 13 Cactus League games before play was suspended. Mondesi’s first start was scheduled for Thursday, the day camp was suspended. Now with the extra recovery time, both Perez and Mondesi surely will be ready whenever the regular season begins. One other benefit to the “pause” will be with Rule 5 Draft pick Stephen Woods Jr., a right-hander who perhaps was ticketed for the injured list because of a nasty high-ankle sprain. Woods, with an outside chance to crack the 26-man roster, now will have plenty of time to heal and make a bid for the roster.