5 Royals players to watch in Summer Camp

July 2nd, 2020

KANSAS CITY -- Summer Camp for the Royals will finally arrive on Friday at Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals set their 60-man player pool on Sunday and now manager Mike Matheny, his coaching staff and the front office will get busy sorting through the candidates to finalize a 30-man roster by Opening Day on July 23 or 24.

Here’s a quick look at five players to watch during Summer Camp:

When Spring Training was suspended in March, Mondesi, coming off left shoulder surgery last fall, hadn’t even played in a Cactus League game. He was scheduled to make his first spring appearance the day camp was shut down. Though he was highly questionable for Opening Day, that subplot has changed since Mondesi has had 3 1/2 more months to heal.

Matheny already has said Mondesi will be a full go -- as will catcher , whose Opening Day availability was almost certain back in March anyway.

Mondesi’s health will impact the Royals’ plans for the new 30-man roster. If he is at 100 percent, they could bypass carrying a backup middle infielder. If something happened to Mondesi, second baseman Nicky Lopez could switch over to shortstop in the short term, Whit Merrifield could move from center field to second, and either Bubba Starling or Brett Phillips could take over in center.

First baseman
Matheny seemingly had been all-in on having O’Hearn be his starting first baseman during offseason chats. Then put up an OPS over 1.000 in Arizona.

But O’Hearn responded to the challenge, posting a 1.252 OPS with five home runs.

With the new roster set at 30 (it was 26), it seems almost a lock that McBroom will make the club as well, and the two could form a soft platoon. If O’Hearn can crush the ball like he did in the Cactus League, it could really help extend the batting order.

The Royals’ top pick in the 2018 Draft and their No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, Singer impressed Matheny and the staff all spring. In fact, Singer was still in camp when it was suspended, leaving the door open for him to possibly be the No. 5 starter behind Brad Keller, Danny Duffy, Jakob Junis and Mike Montgomery.

Singer isn’t on the 40-man roster, though, so the Royals would have to do some maneuvering, which they will have to do anyway to add some other non-roster pitching invitees such as veteran Greg Holland or right-handed prospect Tyler Zuber.

Holland and Trevor Rosenthal, another non-roster invitee, provided a strong veteran presence in the bullpen in Arizona, along with closer Ian Kennedy. Rosenthal was so dominant that he was quickly added to the 40-man roster in late March.

Holland, such a major force for the Royals from 2012-15, also impressed. He had one shaky outing out of six, but he had eight strikeouts in six innings. His fastball sat around 92-93 mph, and his slider looked like the old knee-buckling one from his first run with the club.

An effective Holland would provide the back of the bullpen with needed depth.

Third baseman
The Royals signed Franco to a one-year deal in December, though they also have club control of the former Phillie through 2021. Franco got off to a sluggish start offensively in Arizona, but he looked better toward the end of camp, raising his average to .267 with one homer and a double.

Franco’s defense -- not regarded very well by some metrics -- was quite solid in camp, as he showed good range in either direction and an above-average arm.

After a disappointing season last year with Philadelphia, Franco needs to reboot his career, which makes him the perfect low-risk, high-reward signing for the small-market Royals.