During Spring Training, catchers are the busiest people in camp, especially the youngsters who are non-roster invitees and typically the ones pegged with catching several bullpen sessions while also getting their own fielding and hitting work in.
The Royals have a couple of elite catchers in their organization, including, of course, Salvador Perez and MJ Melendez. But here’s another name you should know: Kale Emshoff. While Emshoff has had a slow start at High-A Quad Cities with a .631 OPS in 17 games, the three home runs he’s hit displayed the power potential he has from the right side of the plate if he can limit the swing and miss.
During Minor League camp this spring, manager Mike Matheny singled Emshoff out as one of the players with whom he was most impressed as he watched from the sidelines.
Emshoff is as dedicated to his craft on and off the field. In 2020, he created his own apparel line called Seams Apparel, and he now sells hats, shirts and hoodies through his website, seamsapparel.com. He worked on the design with his sister, Kinsley. The name Seams has obvious ties to baseball, but Emshoff’s meaning goes deeper.
“The reason behind Seams -- it’s a brand that is built on the fact that everyone and everything has seams,” Emshoff said, reading through the motto he wrote when launching the line. “We all have different ‘seams’ that hold us together. Much like a baseball, these seams make us who we are and who we strive to be. … I built Seams to encourage others to show their seams by remembering where you come from and what makes you, you.”
Emshoff shaped that idea from his own past. He injured his elbow in the fall of 2018 during scout day and missed all of 2019 after having Tommy John surgery. He returned in the spring of 2020, hit .417 with seven homers in 17 games this spring, going deep in five of his last seven games before the season ended early. The shortened Draft hurt players like Emshoff the most, given that he could have been selected in the top 10 rounds. Instead, he was dubbed by multiple outlets as one of the top free agents on the first day of post-Draft activity, when teams could contact undrafted players about signing.
“At the end of the day, I’m stronger than ever because of that process and that surgery,” Emshoff said. “I’m here right now because of it. I learned through it.”