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Inbox: How many position players will KC carry?

Beat reporter Jeffrey Flanagan answers questions from Royals fans
MLB.com

KANSAS CITY -- This could be an exciting camp for the Royals as they inch closer to pitchers and catchers reporting for Spring Training on Feb. 12.

There will be obvious battles at the back end of the rotation, all over the bullpen and certainly for the right-field job (and outfield backups).

KANSAS CITY -- This could be an exciting camp for the Royals as they inch closer to pitchers and catchers reporting for Spring Training on Feb. 12.

There will be obvious battles at the back end of the rotation, all over the bullpen and certainly for the right-field job (and outfield backups).

:: Submit a question to the Royals Inbox ::

With that in mind, let's get right to your questions in this week's Royals Inbox:

Tweet from @duvy_013: What���re the chances that the Royals choose to start Opening Day with just 11 position players on the roster? Cam Gallagher and Chris Owings on the bench. Whit and Owings in super utility roles, rotating DH. There���s a ton of pitchers that could use big league innings.

I hate to use the tired "anything is possible" line, but of course, that's true. However, I don't see a scenario for that to happen because with Terrance Gore among the 11 already -- they signed him with the plan he would be a late-inning pinch-running weapon -- that would mean releasing someone like Brian Goodwin. That seems unlikely. While Jorge Bonifacio and Brett Phillips have options, there's still a chance one of those could crack the 25-man roster and get a decent amount of playing time to justify not sending them to Triple-A Omaha. The other factor is, while having Whit Merrifield and Chris Owings gives manager Ned Yost plenty of lineup versatility, if the Royals pinch-run Gore as often as they project, they'll need that extra guy on the bench if they stretch games to extra innings. Gore would be a candidate to pinch-run for Alex Gordon, Salvador Perez, Ryan O'Hearn and possibly Jorge Soler, Goodwin and Bonifacio (if he makes the team). They might even go with 13 position players.

Tweet from @burgmuleman: How do you see the outfield shaking out? Several options for this season...Gordon, Hamilton, Bonifacio, Goodwin, Soler, Phillips, Gore...

This will be a hot topic in camp. Obviously, Gordon and Billy Hamilton have two spots in the outfield. Who will be in right field? Soler, Phillips, Goodwin and Bonifacio all will be candidates. As mentioned, Phillips and Bonifacio have options, but I wouldn't be surprised if one of them makes the 25-man roster and gets enough playing time to warrant the decision. Soler, if healthy, is going to get most of the at-bats in any right field/designated hitter rotation. That's a fact. I could still see them carrying one more outfielder beyond Goodwin, though he could be a guy that is dealt at some point as the Royals begin to look toward the future with No. 2 prospect Khalil Lee and others.

Tweet from @RoyalsGo: Do you see Duffy and/or Kennedy moving to the bullpen?

Yes, I have written about this several times this offseason. Moving either Danny Duffy or Ian Kennedy to the bullpen would be something that would play out in Spring Training and the early season. The Royals don't have any preconceived notions of making such a move, but they are open to it. I still think Kennedy, because of his command, could make sense as a late-inning guy.

Duffy focused on reviving velocity, career

Tweet from @mredbaseball: Of all the players invited to spring training who has a chance of making team? Like Jason Adams?

Jason Adam has a big league fastball, no doubt. He needs to be able to command a breaking ball to get back to the bigs. He's not on the 40-man roster anymore, so he'll have to wow Yost and his staff in camp.

Tweet from @ZACHilker: Do you think we will make a Chris Young/Chien-Ming Wang type of deal this spring training? Sign a veteran and end up shocking everyone?

Count on it. They've already found one in right-hander Michael Ynoa, once a top prospect in the A's organization.

Tweet from @davehamiltonpbw: will we see Khalil Lee in the majors before a September call-up ?

I think they'll show some patience with Lee, who was just elevated to Double-A Northwest Arkansas last year. He's not on the 40-man roster yet, but hey, if he comes out on fire in the Minors, he could force the Royals' hand.

Tweet from @SpruceGoose_: Will this be Ned Yosts final season

Yost reiterated at the Winter Meetings what he said at the end of the season: The skipper, who enters his 10th season in Kansas City, could definitely see himself coming back in 2020. He has a lot of energy for this rebuild and wants to see it through.

Tweet from @jbryanlarson: Can we expect big tjings from Keller or sophomore slump?

Actually, if anything, I think Brad Keller has a chance to get even better. We don't know what his ceiling is by any stretch. He began to get more swings and misses as the season went on. Opposing hitters have told me he is a very "uncomfortable at-bat."

Tweet from @gingerylocks: Royals? I forgot about them...lol. (j/k)Will we see Kowar or Singer some time this year? Or do you think it���ll be next year?

Jackson Kowar and Brady Singer probably start out at Class A Advanced Wilmington, and there's no need to rush them to the Majors. Let them matriculate (hat tip Hank Stram in honor of the Chiefs' AFC Championship Game this Sunday) through the system.

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

Kansas City Royals, Jason Adam, Danny Duffy, Terrance Gore, Brad Keller, Ian Kennedy, Jackson Kowar, Khalil Lee, Brady Singer, Michael Ynoa

30 best defensive prospects -- 1 for each team

MLB.com

MLB Pipeline recently unveiled its annual All-Defense Team, but there were only so many spots to fill. It made us realize there were so many outstanding defenders across all 30 organizations.

Evaluating defense is still very much subjective, with metrics measuring fielding still imperfect. Still, each system has glovework that stands out more than others, and we considered many to present one best defender from each organization.

MLB Pipeline recently unveiled its annual All-Defense Team, but there were only so many spots to fill. It made us realize there were so many outstanding defenders across all 30 organizations.

Evaluating defense is still very much subjective, with metrics measuring fielding still imperfect. Still, each system has glovework that stands out more than others, and we considered many to present one best defender from each organization.

American League East

Orioles: Cadyn Grenier, SS, No. 9
Grenier's stellar glovework at shortstop was key in helping Oregon State win the 2018 College World Series, and in the process, he established himself as one of the best defensive prospects in the Draft before going to the Orioles as the No. 37 overall pick. With good hands, plus arm strength and plenty of range, Grenier has all the ingredients needed to stick at the position long term.

Red Sox: Bobby Dalbec, 3B, No. 6
Dalbec has always possessed a strong arm and has worked hard to improve his agility and range at third base, with several Red Sox officials rating him as a plus defender and scouts outside the organization grading him more as solid. He also owns prodigious raw power and ranked second in the Minors in extra-base hits (70) and RBIs (109) last year, and fourth in homers (32).

Yankees: Estevan Florial, OF, No. 1 (MLB No. 45)
Florial has some of the best all-around tools in the Minors, with well-above-average raw power, speed and arm strength. He continues to improve as a center fielder, projecting as a plus defender, and has an exceptionally strong arm for the position.

Rays: Lucius Fox, SS, No. 9
While there's no shortage of standout defenders in the highly athletic Rays system, Fox, a top-flight athlete with plus-plus speed, could be the best. He's played shortstop exclusively as a pro and committed 15 errors in 105 games last season while reaching Double-A at age 21. His athleticism makes him an electrifying defender, and he has the requisite physical tools to remain at the position for the long haul.

Video: EAST@WEST: Fox showcases range, slick glove in 3rd

Blue Jays: Kevin Vicuna, SS, unranked
The Blue Jays felt so good about Vicuna's defense in 2017 that they had the then-19-year-old handle shortstop duties for Class A Advanced Dunedin from April 23-June 1, even though Vicuna previously had never played above the Rookie Gulf Coast League. He's an athletic and, at times, flashy defender, with quick, twitchy hands that help him absorb anything hit his way and a quick release that causes his average arm strength to play up across the infield.

AL Central

White Sox: Nick Madrigal, 2B, No. 5 (MLB No. 49)
The White Sox may try Madrigal at shortstop, because he has the hands and actions to thrive there, but his average arm makes him a better fit at second base. With his quickness and instincts, he could be a Gold Glove Award winner at the keystone, and he also rated as the best pure hitter in the 2018 Draft, where he went No. 4 overall.

Video: Top Prospects: Nick Madrigal, 2B, White Sox

Indians: Eric Haase, C, No. 27
Haase reached the Majors for the first time late last season, seven years after the Indians took him in the seventh round of the 2011 Draft. Though he's blossomed on both sides of the ball during the past two seasons, it's been Haase's defensive gains that have helped him climb the Tribe's depth chart. After throwing out 37 percent of attempted basestealers in 2017, Haase improved that mark to nearly 49 percent in '18 (33 of 68).

Tigers: Jake Rogers, C, No. 12
The Tigers got Rogers as part of the Justin Verlander deal, and in Rogers' first full season with the organization, he cemented himself as the game's best defensive catching prospect, earning a spot on MLB Pipeline's All-Defense Team for the second year in a row. He threw out 55.6 percent of potential basestealers in 2018, upping his career rate to 48.5 percent.

Royals: Sebastian Rivero, C, unranked
M.J. Melendez is very athletic for a catcher and has a chance to become a plus defender with an arm to match. Yet South Atlantic League managers rated Rivero, his teammate at Lexington last summer, the low Class A circuit's best defensive backstop in a Baseball America survey last year. The Royals liken Rivero to a young Salvador Perez, and in addition to his physical ability, Rivero also draws raves for his leadership skills, intelligence and work ethic.

Twins: Gilberto Celestino, OF, No. 14
Signed by the Astros for $2.5 million in 2015, Celestino made his United States debut in '17, then got dealt to the Twins in the Ryan Pressly trade last season. He's drawn comparisons to Albert Almora Jr. for his instincts in center, and coaches in Elizabethton feel he's one of the best defenders they've ever seen.

AL West

Astros: Myles Straw, OF, No. 15
Straw has double-plus speed that gives him tremendous range in center field, where his plus arm also stands out at a position not noted for strong throwers. That quickness also plays well on the bases (he topped the Minors with 70 steals in only 79 attempts in 2018) and allows him to beat out hits (he led the Minors with a .358 batting average in '16).

Angels: Jordyn Adams, OF, No. 6
The Angels signed Adams away from playing football and baseball at North Carolina, and he immediately put his tools on display during his pro debut and during instructs. He's still raw, but the Angels feel he has elite range and the highest ceiling as a defender in the organization.

A's: Nick Allen, SS, No. 15
Allen was viewed by many scouts as perhaps the best defensive prospect available in the 2017 Draft, and he's done nothing to diminish that reputation after signing for more than double slot value as the A's third-round pick. There is no doubt among scouts that Allen can stick at shortstop. He's already a plus defender there, with outstanding range that leads to many highlight-reel plays and plus arm strength that allows him to make throws from all over the diamond.

Mariners: Evan White, 1B, No. 5
It's not often a first baseman is mentioned as one of the premier defensive players in the Minors, but that's the reality with White, who recently was named to the All-Defense Team. All signs point to him becoming a Gold Glove Award winner at the position, as he's athletic with outstanding footwork, a strong arm and plus range. His ability to pick throws is elite, and he makes every infielder on his team better as a result.

Video: Top Prospects: Evan White, 1B, Mariners

Rangers: Jose Trevino, C, No. 28
Trevino won Rawlings Minor League Gold Gloves in both 2016 and '17, before surgery on his non-throwing shoulder last July squashed any chances of a three-peat. He's an outstanding receiver and blocker, gets the most out of his strong arm with a quick release and accurate throws and also earns high marks for his ability to run a pitching staff.

National League East

Braves: Cristian Pache, OF, No. 6  (MLB No. 68)
Pache is generally considered to be the best defender in the Minor Leagues, leading our All-Defense Prospect Team. He has the speed and instincts to be a Gold Glove center fielder to go along with a right fielder's arm.

Video: Mayo looks at MLB Pipeline's 2019 All-Defense Team

Marlins: Jose Devers, SS/2B, No. 13
The cousin of Red Sox third basemen Rafael Devers, Jose was acquired by the Marlins last offseason in the blockbuster trade that sent Giancarlo Stanton to the Bronx. While he doesn't have his cousin's offensive profile, Devers is a far superior defender, with the soft hands, slick footwork and strong arm needed to be a big league shortstop. He showcased his defensive prowess last season, committing only seven errors and posting a .971 fielding percentage as an 18-year-old in full-season ball.

Mets: Andres Gimenez, SS, No. 1 (MLB No. 55)
The shortstop on our All-Defense Team, Gimenez reached Double-A in 2018 as a teenager. While he needs to add strength offensively, he has everything he needs to play shortstop defensively in the big leagues. He has plus hands, range and the internal clock to allow him to slow the game down.

Phillies: Luis Garcia, SS, No. 14
Signed for $2.5 million in July 2017, Garcia had a tremendous debut in the Gulf Coast League in '18 on both sides of the ball. He has a strong arm to go along with terrific hands and feet, and speed that gives him excellent range to stay at shortstop long term. He's only going to get better as he matures.

Nationals: Victor Robles, OF, No. 1 (MLB No. 4)
Revered as one of the top defenders in the Minor Leagues and a member of MLB Pipeline's All-Defense Team, Robles has game-changing abilities in center field. His near top-of-the-scale speed gives him range for days in center field, and he's made strides in improving both his reads and routes in the past two years. His plus-plus arm is among the strongest in the Minors, and he totaled 29 outfield assists from 2016-17 before an injury-plagued campaign in '18.

Video: Top Prospects: Victor Robles, OF, Nationals

NL Central

Cubs: Miguel Amaya, C, No. 1 (MLB No. 87)
Amaya's defensive ability and makeup led the Cubs to sign him for $1.25 million out of Panama in 2015, and he continues to impress even though he has been pushed aggressively in the Minors. His aptitude to frame and block pitches is advanced for a teenager, and his arm strength has improved to at least solid and plays up because of his quick transfer and accuracy.

Reds: Mike Siani, OF, No. 9
The Reds' fourth-round pick got first-round money to sign because of his all-around tools. But his defensive skills have long stood out, and he might have been the best defensive outfielder in the 2018 Draft class, with the ability to cover a ton of ground in center and an arm that allowed him to throw low-90s fastballs from the mound in high school.

Brewers: Payton Henry, C, No. 11
A sixth-round pick in 2016 who signed for nearly twice his slot value, Henry threw out nearly 44 percent (46 of 105) of attempted basestealers and had only six passed balls in his first full season. A quick release and a strong, accurate arm help Henry to combat the running game, and evaluators have been impressed with how he's developed a receiving style that utilizes his big, athletic frame. Henry is also praised for his energy and leadership skills.

Pirates: Ke'Bryan Hayes, 3B, No. 2 (MLB No. 48)
Hayes was the third baseman on our All-Defense Team, and for good reason. He entered pro ball as one of the better defenders at the hot corner, but he's gotten even better as he's committed himself to his conditioning, adding to his agility and range to make him the best in the Minors at the position.

Cardinals: Delvin Perez, SS, No. 28
The Cardinals' first-round pick in 2016 has had trouble finding any traction offensively, but there are no concerns about his defensive chops. He gets plus grades on his arm and his overall fielding, thanks to a plus arm when he needs it, above-average hands and plus speed that helps him cover a lot of ground.

NL West

D-backs: Geraldo Perdomo, SS, No. 21
Perdomo's United States debut in 2018 was solid all-around, and he even earned a promotion from the Arizona Rookie League to the Pioneer League in the process. Tall and rangy, the teenager has shown the tools to stay at shortstop long term with outstanding range, actions and hands to go with a strong arm.

Rockies: Yonathan Daza, OF, No. 18
Thanks to his plus speed and fine instincts, Daza covers a lot of ground in center field, and he possesses a plus-plus arm that stands out at his position. He's also a career .310 hitter who won the Class A Advanced California League batting title in 2017 with a .341 mark.

Dodgers: Will Smith, C, No. 5
An outstanding athlete for a catcher, Smith has already shown that he's capable of playing third base and filling in at second. He has very soft hands and impressive agility, making him a fine receiver and framer, and he has a solid arm that plays better than that because of his fast footwork.

Padres: Buddy Reed, OF, No. 13
A member of MLB Pipeline's All-Defense Team, Reed's 70-grade speed and long, gliding strides allow him to cover huge swaths of territory in center field -- and he showcased that with his catch in last year's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. Reed also has a strong arm and recorded 12 outfield assists in 2018, surpassing his combined total from his first two seasons.

Video: WLD@USA: Reed wired up, makes great grab at the wall

Giants: Joey Bart, C, No. 1 (MLB No. 23)
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 Draft, Bart draws more attention with his bat, but his work behind the plate is impressive as well. He has improved markedly since high school, when scouts wondered if he could stay at catcher, enhancing his agility and receiving and improving the accuracy of his strong arm.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

Alonso leads list of Top 10 1B prospects

MLB.com

MLB Pipeline will unveil its 2019 Top 100 Prospects list with a one-hour show on MLB Network and MLB.com on Saturday, Jan. 26, at 8 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release, we look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.

First basemen don't usually draw a lot of acclaim as prospects, in large part because they tend to be less well-rounded players than those at other positions. When MLB Pipeline releases its new Top 100 next week, Minor League home run leader Peter Alonso will be the only first baseman who's not a two-way performer on the list.

MLB Pipeline will unveil its 2019 Top 100 Prospects list with a one-hour show on MLB Network and MLB.com on Saturday, Jan. 26, at 8 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release, we look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.

First basemen don't usually draw a lot of acclaim as prospects, in large part because they tend to be less well-rounded players than those at other positions. When MLB Pipeline releases its new Top 100 next week, Minor League home run leader Peter Alonso will be the only first baseman who's not a two-way performer on the list.

However, there has been a resurgence in first-base prospects in the last couple of years. The 2017 Draft featured five first basemen in the top 35 picks, and four of them -- Brendan McKay (Rays), Nick Pratto (Royals), Evan White (Mariners) and Brent Rooker (Twins) -- rank among the 10 best in the Minors at this moment.

Last June, Triston Casas (Red Sox) and Grant Lavigne (Rockies) went before the second round and quickly claimed spots on our first base Top 10. Another Rockies farmhand, Tyler Nevin, boosted his stock by leading the Arizona Fall League in all three slash categories (.426/.535/.593).

Top 10 Prospects by Position

While first base may not be loaded with five-tool prospects, the position possesses more depth than it typically does.

The Top 10 (ETA)
1. Peter Alonso, Mets (2019)
2. Evan White, Mariners (2020)
3. Nathaniel Lowe, Rays (2019)
4. Brendan McKay, Rays (2020)
5. Brent Rooker, Twins (2019)
6. Nick Pratto, Royals (2021)
7. Triston Casas, Red Sox (2022)
8. Grant Lavigne, Rockies (2022)
9. Tyler Nevin, Rockies (2020)
10. Matt Thaiss, Angels (2019)
Complete list »

Top Tools

Best Hitter: White, Lowe, McKay, Pratto, Lavigne, Nevin, Thaiss (55)
Lowe always had good plate discipline, but he broke out in 2018 by driving more balls in the air and tightening his strike zone further. He batted .330 and ranked fifth in the Minors with a .985 OPS. Nevin opened eyes in the AFL with his pure hitting ability and mastery of the strike zone, while organization mate Lavigne did the same in his pro debut by batting .350 and topping the Rookie-level Pioneer League with a .477 on-base percentage.

Video: Top Prospects: Tyler Nevin, 1B, Rockies

Best Power: Alonso, Rooker, Casas (60)
Alonso led the Minors with 36 homers during the regular season and the Arizona Fall League with six more, not including a shot off a 103-mph Nate Pearson fastball during the Fall Stars Game. His bat speed and strength produce tremendous exit velocities and translate his impressive raw power into game production.

Video: Top Prospects: Peter Alonso, 1B, Mets

Fastest Runner: White (60)
White has a highly unusual profile for a first baseman, as he bats right-handed and throws lefty, his hitting ability stands out more than his power and he's as athletic as it gets at the position. He's a plus runner, though his quickness is more apparent in the field than on the bases.

Video: Top Prospects: Evan White, 1B, Mariners

Best Arm: McKay, Pratto, Casas (60)
Both McKay and Casas had low-90s fastballs when they pitched as amateurs, and McKay continues to deal that kind of heat as he tries to make it as a two-way player. Pratto also was a two-way star as an amateur, throwing in the upper 80s and helping the U.S. national 18-and-under team win a pair of gold medals at international events.

Video: Top Prospects: Triston Casas, 1B, Red Sox

Best Defender: White (70)
White's defense gets the same rave reviews that Cody Bellinger's did when the Dodgers slugger was rising through the Minors. It's easy to envision him winning Gold Gloves in the big leagues, but he also has the quickness and solid arm strength to fit anywhere in the outfield if needed.

Superlatives

Highest Ceiling: Pratto
Pratto has the best chance to be a plus hitter for both average and power, and he also has Gold Glove potential at first base. After a slow start in his first full pro season, he batted .322/.394/.518 in the second half in the low Class A South Atlantic League and helped Lexington win the championship.

Video: Top Prospects: Nick Pratto, 1B, Royals

Highest Floor: White
White is a safe bet to hit thanks to his advanced approach and ability to barrel the ball, and he's beginning to unlock the power potential in his 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame. He's also an outstanding defender and has the versatility to play all three outfield spots.

Rookie of the Year Candidate: Alonso
The Mets have crowded their infield by trading for Robinson Cano and J.D. Davis and signing Jed Lowrie, and they have plenty of candidates to play first base. None of them can match Alonso's power, however, and he has little to prove in the Minors except for upgrading his defense.

Highest Riser: Lowe
Lowe hit just seven homers in his first full pro season and ranked 13th on MLB Pipeline's Rays Top 30 Prospects list a year ago. After making adjustments to his swing, he slammed 27 homers during his coming-out party in 2018 and should push for a big league role with Tampa Bay, which lacks a surefire starter at first base or DH.

Video: Top Prospects: Nate Lowe, 1B, Rays

Humblest Beginning: Lowe
When the Rays signed Lowe for $100,000 as a 13th-rounder out of Mississippi State in 2016, it was seen as a favor to his younger brother Josh, whom they selected 13th overall in the first round of the same Draft. Two years later, Nathaniel had surpassed him as a prospect.

Most To Prove: McKay
Trying to make it as both a hitter and a pitcher is a difficult task. The No. 4 overall pick in the 2017 Draft, McKay lived up to his reputation as being more advanced on the mound by logging a 2.41 ERA with a 103/14 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings on the mound in his first full pro season. He batted just .214/.368/.359, however, and he'll have to up his production if he wants to continue pulling double duty.

Video: Top Prospects: Brendan McKay, LHP/1B, Rays

Keep An Eye On: Luken Baker, Cardinals
Another two-way star, Baker could have gone in the top two rounds of the 2015 Draft as a pitcher out of high school if he hadn't been set on attending Texas Christian. He gave up pitching after his freshman season but has tremendous strength and leverage in his 6-foot-4, 265-pound frame, giving him huge power upside that led the Cardinals to draft him in the second round last June.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Rotation hopeful Skoglund suspended 80 games

MLB.com

KANSAS CITY -- Royals left-hander Eric Skoglund, who figured to compete for a spot in the starting rotation this season, has been suspended for 80 games without pay for being in violation of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

Skoglund tested positive for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators S-22 (Ostarine) and LGD-4033 (Ligandrol), the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced.

KANSAS CITY -- Royals left-hander Eric Skoglund, who figured to compete for a spot in the starting rotation this season, has been suspended for 80 games without pay for being in violation of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

Skoglund tested positive for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators S-22 (Ostarine) and LGD-4033 (Ligandrol), the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced.

The 26-year-old Skoglund becomes the second Royal in less than a year to be suspended for 80 games in violation of the Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Outfielder Jorge Bonifacio was suspended during Spring Training in 2018.

Skoglund went 1-6 with a 5.14 ERA in 14 games (13 starts) last season and likely would have competed for either a starting rotation spot or eventually a bullpen opening when camp gets underway next month.

The Royals will be able to replace Skoglund on the 40-man roster effective immediately.

Royals general manager Dayton Moore issued the following statement:

"Unfortunately, when something like this occurs, I immediately think about how much work and dedication our medical staff does communicating to the players about the importance of being careful about what they put in their bodies. I'm appreciative that professional baseball players are tested more frequently than any professional athlete, and we should all be thankful that testing is working. Eric is a tremendous young man and he unknowingly made a mistake, and he will have to accept his suspension, work hard and be ready to go after the suspension is served. We remain proud of who Eric is as a person and will support him as an organization."

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

Kansas City Royals, Eric Skoglund

Bart leads list of Top 10 Catching Prospects

MLB.com

MLB Pipeline will unveil its 2019 Top 100 Prospects list with a one-hour show on MLB Network and MLB.com on Saturday, Jan. 26, at 8 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release, we look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.

There's a good amount of turnover on this year's Top 10 Catching Prospects list compared to the 2018 version. That starts at the top, with a member of the 2018 Draft Class, Joey Bart, leading the way.

MLB Pipeline will unveil its 2019 Top 100 Prospects list with a one-hour show on MLB Network and MLB.com on Saturday, Jan. 26, at 8 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release, we look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.

There's a good amount of turnover on this year's Top 10 Catching Prospects list compared to the 2018 version. That starts at the top, with a member of the 2018 Draft Class, Joey Bart, leading the way.

Video: Top Prospects: Joey Bart, C, Giants

Francisco Mejia, now with the Padres, continues to be a mainstay, sitting in the top two for the third straight season. Keibert Ruiz of the Dodgers, the A's Sean Murphy and Danny Jansen from the Blue Jays are the other holdovers from last year's Top 10. Graduation caused some serious turnover, with Carson Kelly, now with the D-backs, Jorge Alfaro (Phillies), Chance Sisco (Orioles) and Victor Caratini (Cubs) all moving on to larger big league contributions.

Top 10 Prospects by Position

The Top 10 (ETA)
1. Joey Bart, Giants (2021)
2. Francisco Mejia, Padres (2019)
3. Keibert Ruiz, Dodgers (2020)
4. Sean Murphy, A's (2019)
5. Danny Jansen, Blue Jays (2019)
6. Ronaldo Hernandez, Rays (2021)
7. Miguel Amaya, Cubs (2021)
8. Daulton Varsho, D-backs (2020)
9. MJ Melendez, Royals (2021)
10. Andrew Knizner, Cardinals (2019)
Complete list »

Top tools

Hit: Mejia (60)
Mejia has hit at pretty much every stop in the Minors, starting with his 50-game hitting streak and .342 average in 2016. Following his trade to the Padres last year in the Brad Hand deal, he showed what the fuss was about by hitting .328 with Triple-A El Paso en route to making his San Diego debut. His ability to swing the bat from both sides of the plate is well ahead of his defense behind it.

Video: Top Prospects: Francisco Mejia, C, Padres

Power: Bart (60)
The No. 2 overall pick in last June's Draft, Bart not only has a strong college power resume, with double-digit home runs as a sophomore and a junior, but he showed that it would translate immediately in the pro game when he hit 13 home runs in just 45 Northwest League games during his pro debut. He has the potential to hit at least 25 homers annually.

Run: Varsho (55)
There are some who feel Varsho is athletic enough to play second base if catching doesn't work out, and he certainly did nothing to dampen that evaluation during his first full year. Varsho stole 19 bases in 22 tries in just 80 California League games. He then went on to swipe eight more during his Arizona Fall League stint.

Video: Top Prospects: Daulton Varsho, C, D-backs

Arm: Mejia, Murphy (70)
Mejia has thrown out 33 percent of potential basestealers in his Minor League career. Last year, that was down to 28.9 percent, though he also spent less time behind the plate compared to other seasons. Murphy threw out 34.3 percent in 2018, which actually brought his career percentage down to 35.5 percent.

Video: Top Prospects: Sean Murphy, C, Athletics

Field: Murphy (65)
Murphy would be the runner-up on the All-Defense Prospect Team thanks to his all-around work behind the plate. In addition to his arm detailed above, he's agile with excellent blocking, receiving and game-calling skills. He gets very high marks for his ability to work with a pitching staff.

Superlatives

Ceiling: Melendez
The 2017 second-round pick showed off all of his skills during his first full season. He finished fifth in the South Atlantic League in home runs and slugging percentage, and he should tap into his raw power even more as he refines his approach. Behind the plate, Melendez used his plus arm to throw out nearly 42 percent of those trying to steal last season.

Video: Top Prospects: M.J. Melendez, C, Royals

Floor: Ruiz
Murphy could be a candidate if you wanted to focus solely on defense -- his glove will make him a big leaguer. But Ruiz's bat, with the ability to hit for average and power, provides a little more certainty that he'll be a big league regular at the position.

Video: Top Prospects: Keibert Ruiz, C, Dodgers

Rookie of the Year candidate: Jansen
There are several on this list ready to contribute in 2019, but Jansen appears to be the only one heading into the season as the No. 1 backstop on the depth chart. He had a solid big league debut in August and September last year to build a foundation for his first full year in the big leagues.

Video: Top Prospects: Danny Jansen, C, Blue Jays

Highest riser: Hernandez
Hernandez began 2018 as the Rays' No. 20 prospect, but was up to No. 7 by the end of the season. Now he's jumping onto this Top 10 list for the first time after a year that saw him hit 21 home runs in his full-season debut while throwing out 36 percent of runners trying to steal.

Video: Top Prospects: Ronaldo Hernandez, C, Rays

Humblest beginnings: Knizner
The Cardinals have a knack for finding late-round talent and it looks like they've done it again with Knizner, a seventh-round pick in 2016. The North Carolina State product was a third baseman until he began his catching career as a sophomore and now he's ready to be a big leaguer, thanks to a .310/.373/.460 line and a 36.2 percent caught stealing rate.

Video: Top Prospects: Andrew Knizner, C, Cardinals

Most to prove: Mejia
Yes, Mejia has hit pretty much everywhere he's been in the Minors, but he has a .583 OPS in 76 big league plate appearances, a small sample size for sure. That, combined with questions about his ability to catch full-time and showing he was worth trading for, makes the spotlight a little brighter on him in 2019.

Keep an eye on: William Contreras, Braves
The younger brother of Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, William had a very strong first taste of full-season ball, earning a promotion to the Class A Advanced Florida State League at age 20. He has a solid approach at the plate with some pop (11 homers in 2018) in addition to a strong arm and solid receiving skills behind it.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Sheller eyeing place in back end of KC's pen

Closer, drafted in 2016, feeling at home in Royals organization
MLB.com

KANSAS CITY -- It's not often that pitchers go from college closer to Minor League closer to Major League closer. Of course, former Royal Greg Holland comes to mind.

But if all goes well, that will be the path for Royals right-hander Walker Sheller, selected in the ninth round of the 2016 Draft out of Stetson University (Florida).

KANSAS CITY -- It's not often that pitchers go from college closer to Minor League closer to Major League closer. Of course, former Royal Greg Holland comes to mind.

But if all goes well, that will be the path for Royals right-hander Walker Sheller, selected in the ninth round of the 2016 Draft out of Stetson University (Florida).

Sheller, 23, has been a closer for almost the entirety of his baseball career. In 2 1/2 pro seasons, he has 12 saves and a 3.19 ERA.

MLB.com chatted with Sheller recently by phone:

Tell us a little bit about your background.

Sheller: "I grew up in Jacksonville. It was a good time growing up there. I have a younger brother, Max, who is 21. My dad, John, works for the railroad at CSX Transportation. My dad always coached Little League teams and was very supportive. My parents were very supportive. They were always at the games. My mom, Rebecca, works at Myriad Genetics where they do genetic breast cancer testing. She knows her stuff.

"But I was always into sports, always outside whether it was fishing or hunting or playing sports. If you couldn't find me, I was always on the water or over at a neighbor's house playing tennis, baseball. Always doing something outside."

Inbox: Who will be Royals' biggest surprise?

Were you always a pitcher?

Sheller: "Yeah, I always pitched. But in high school I also played outfield and first base. In college, I played outfield and first base and DH'd. And I was the closer.

"I actually played a lot of golf back then, too. Growing up in Jacksonville, I had TPC Sawgrass right there. That was a no-brainer. My handicap used to be good. Not anymore. I can still swing it a little, but I don't have the time."

Did you have a favorite pro team growing up?

Sheller: "Not really. I didn't sit around much and cheer for teams or players. And I'm not a stats junkie. I just didn't have a favorite baseball player growing up. I just liked watching pitchers and players and how they performed and trying to learn how they did it. Every different player has a way of going about their business. I would say Craig Kimbrel is one guy I look up to, though, just the way he conducts his business. It's amazing to see all these guys play the same sport, but they're all so different in how they become the best at what they do."

In the Royals organization, who have you learned the most from?

Sheller: "Everyone. But if I had to pick one guy, it would be Nick Dini. We were roommates. He's a catcher who deals with pitching and hitting, so being able to talk to him about what works best in facing batters, different tendencies, that helps. I think Nick and I have had the best conversations on how to better ourselves."

When did you first think that baseball might be your life's work?

Sheller: "Maybe my first year at juco [Lake-Sumter State College in Florida]. I was kind of feeling it out, and I saw guys who were getting letters from Major League teams, and I thought to myself, 'I can pitch as good as that guy or even better. I got a chance at this.' I got lucky enough to get a chance to go to Stetson and that kind of cemented it. People around me said I had a chance. Then I started getting some attention from Major League teams."

When do you think you got on the Royals' radar?

Sheller: "I knew from one of the guys [Vance Vizcaino] on our team they might be interested. His dad [former Royals scout Junior Vizcaino] was in the Royals organization. Honestly, if I had to choose, I would not have guessed the Royals would have drafted me. But I'm glad they did. It's been a great opportunity. They called me right before the pick. It was a great moment. [Vance, an outfielder, was drafted by the Royals two rounds later.]"

What has pro ball been like?

Sheller: "It's definitely not what people think -- that it's a bunch of rich people playing a game. It's not, but I like it. I like getting up every day and not knowing for certain what will happen. It's just a matter of proving to myself that I can pitch at the Major League level someday and get Major League hitters out."

Describe your repertoire.

Sheller: "I have a four-seam fastball -- 92-95 [mph] -- two-seam fastball, changeup and a slider. I'd say I'm mainly a two-seam kind of pitcher. If I had to pick an out pitch, it would be my slider. That's what people say. I trust my changeup just as much as any pitch. It can always get better, but I trust my changeup in any count."

Best highlight of your pro career so far?

Sheller: "The coolest game was probably my first game in Double-A two years ago. I got off a plane that day and went right to the bullpen. The guys in the bullpen kept telling me, 'Man, I don't think you know what you're in for tonight.' I thought, 'What are they talking about?' Well, they had an extra-inning game the night before and no one was available but me and the starter. I knew it might be a long one. But I went in and went three scoreless and got the save. It was just cool to be thrown in the fire and have such a good outcome."

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

Kansas City Royals, Walker Sheller

First Spring Training workout dates for all clubs

MLB.com

Major League Baseball has revealed the first Spring Training workout dates for pitchers and catchers and those for the full squads for all 30 clubs. MLB also announced game times for all Cactus and Grapefruit League action in February and March.

Major League Baseball has revealed the first Spring Training workout dates for pitchers and catchers and those for the full squads for all 30 clubs. MLB also announced game times for all Cactus and Grapefruit League action in February and March.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

The A's, fresh off their surprise run to the 2018 American League Wild Card Game, will be the first club to have its pitchers and catchers report. They'll do so on Monday, Feb. 11, followed by the Indians and Mariners on Feb. 12 and the remainder of MLB clubs in the days following. Oakland and Seattle will travel to Tokyo to stage two exhibition games each against Japanese teams on March 17-18, followed by the first two games of the 2019 regular season on March 20-21 at Tokyo Dome.

Complete Spring Training schedule

Oakland and Seattle will hold their first full-squad workouts on Saturday, Feb. 16, in Arizona, with the rest of MLB following suit in the days after. The Braves will be the last club to hold its first full-squad workout, doing so on Thursday, Feb. 21. The A's and Mariners open Cactus League action with a matchup on Feb. 21, and the Rays and Phillies open up Grapefruit League action the following day. The Red Sox and Tigers will play exhibition games against college teams on Feb. 22.

Here are first-workout dates for pitchers and catchers and full squads for each team:

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Angels: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Astros: Feb. 14/Feb. 18
Athletics: Feb. 11/Feb. 16
Blue Jays: Feb. 14/Feb. 18
Indians: Feb. 12/Feb. 18
Mariners: Feb. 12/Feb. 16
Orioles: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Rangers: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Rays: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Red Sox: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Royals: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Tigers: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Twins: Feb. 14/Feb. 18
White Sox: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Yankees: Feb. 14/Feb. 19

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Braves: Feb. 16/Feb. 21
Brewers: Feb. 14/Feb. 19
Cardinals: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Cubs: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Diamondbacks: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Dodgers: Feb. 13/Feb. 19
Giants: Feb. 14/Feb. 19
Marlins: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Mets: Feb. 14/Feb. 18
Nationals: Feb. 14/Feb. 19
Padres: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Phillies: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Pirates: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Reds: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Rockies: Feb. 13/Feb. 18

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

Inbox: Who will be Royals' biggest surprise?

Beat reporter Jeffrey Flanagan answers questions from Kansas City fans
MLB.com

KANSAS CITY -- Royals pitchers and catchers will report to Surprise, Ariz., on Feb. 12. Yep, Spring Training is right around the corner.

KANSAS CITY -- Royals pitchers and catchers will report to Surprise, Ariz., on Feb. 12. Yep, Spring Training is right around the corner.

:: Submit a question to the Royals Inbox ::

With that in mind, let's jump into the first Royals Inbox of 2019:

Tweet from @bcraaum: prediction for biggest surprise player - either positive or negative (please choose positive) ... ?

I'm very high on right-hander Jorge Lopez. I remember after the first couple of times he pitched for the Royals, Salvador Perez pulled me aside and said, "That kid has the best stuff on the staff." That stuck with me. And then we almost saw Lopez throw a perfect game in Minnesota. Most pitchers have one "out pitch." Lopez has several. It's just a matter of gaining experience now.

Tweet from @MarcRowedder: Your prediction of the starting rotation is?

Danny Duffy, Jakob Junis, Brad Keller, Ian Kennedy, Lopez.

I wouldn't be surprised if Kennedy becomes a late-inning guy at some point. He has the command to do it, sort of the way Jeff Montgomery did.

Tweet from @jbengtson79: Will Zimmer make the rotation or will he be a bullpen guy?

Kyle Zimmer might be the biggest wild card in camp this year. He told me he is throwing pain-free for maybe the first time in his pro career. The Royals need a surprise, like Zimmer wowing everyone in Spring Training. It's not unthinkable to envision him becoming a short reliever, cutting it all loose for an inning or two like Wade Davis did when he transitioned to the bullpen. It's a long shot, but who knows?

Tweet from @sethheronemus: Have we ever gotten an answer on how they can justify Hamilton when we need to get looks at Goodwin, Phillips, and Bonifacio?

On the surface, it looks like the Billy Hamilton signing goes against the rebuild. But the Royals have made the decision to return to their 2013-2015 identity of speed and defense. General manager Dayton Moore does not want another 100-loss season and as they transition, Hamilton will save a ton of outs for the pitching staff (a young pitching staff, mind you), and provide a weapon on the basepaths. Brett Phillips and Jorge Bonifacio both have options, so they can still develop in the Minors if necessary.

Tweet from @NotKeithPatton: Four years removed from the World Series title. Dayton Moore seems to be meandering the way forward as far as I am concerned. What exactly is the plan?

Actually, it's only been three seasons since the World Series title. Moore doesn't like to use the word "rebuild" but that's essentially what is happening. There's a ton of talent from that Lexington team (Seuly Matias, Nick Pratto, MJ Melendez, et al.) that isn't that far away. Khalil Lee is already at Double-A. And last year's Draft picks of Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar could help in a year or two. To me, the plan is pretty obvious. You can make the argument that the Royals should have started this rebuild in 2017 but then again, they were just a couple of games out of first place at the Trade Deadline that year and were leading in the second Wild Card spot. It's hard to fault the Royals for going all in back then.

Tweet from @ReelMrPerfect: Do the Royals plan on bringing in any more free agents? Heard some speculation but I don't know if it's true or not

Definitely. Moore and his staff simply are waiting for the price to come down on some free agents, especially relievers.

Tweet from @jlab111b: Who will start 2019 as the royals 1st baseman

Ryan O'Hearn. But expect manager Ned Yost to shuffle his lineup much more than in the past, especially with super-utility guys such as Chris Owings and Whit Merrifield. Ned's favorite phrase of "mix and match" will be even more prominent in 2019.

Tweet from @royalrupert: Who of the young Royals pitchers do you see having the most impact in 2019. Thanks

I mentioned Lopez. I also think Heath Fillmyer will have a significant role in 2019, either in the bullpen or the rotation. And don't be surprised if Zimmer or Josh Staumont emerge.

Tweet from @gsmith601: Was Terrence Gore signed with the expectation of spending most of season in Omaha or KC?

It's unlikely Terrance Gore will see Omaha. He was brought in as a late-inning weapon with the hope he can pinch-run two out of every three games, no matter the circumstances. The Royals want speed again.

Tweet from @Royals_Jun: How will GMDM use Rule 5 draftees, Chris Ellis & Sam McWilliams in 2019?

Expect both Ellis and McWilliams to follow a similar path the Royals set for last year's Rule 5 pick, Keller. If they make the team, it will be in the bullpen at first.

Tweet from @DarrellP1953: Will Lovelady and Staumont get a shot in the bullpen this year?

Josh Staumont already is on the 40-man roster, so he has a chance to make the Opening Day roster. The Royals don't have to put Richard Lovelady on the 40-man until next fall, so he would really have to wow them in camp.

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

Kansas City Royals

The MLB.com Hall of Fame ballot results are ...

MLB.com

Six MLB.com writers were among those eligible to cast ballots in the 2019 Hall of Fame vote conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

• Complete Hall of Fame coverage

Six MLB.com writers were among those eligible to cast ballots in the 2019 Hall of Fame vote conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

• Complete Hall of Fame coverage

As many as four candidates -- and possibly more -- could be elected, according to the public ballots amassed online. Here's a look at how the six voted, and at the bottom you can see what the totals look like among this group:

T.R. Sullivan
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Edgar Martinez
5. Fred McGriff
6. Mike Mussina
7. Mariano Rivera
8. Billy Wagner
9. Larry Walker
10. Michael Young

There are many offensive players who could/should be elected based on their career numbers. I strongly believe McGriff is unfairly overlooked because he was one of the last great hitters before the offensive explosion of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Mussina also thrived as a starting pitcher in the American League right in the thick of that era. It should not have taken him this long to be elected. I'm not big on comparables, but Wagner was every bit as good of a reliever as Rivera or Trevor Hoffman.

Video: MLB Tonight on Mike Mussina's Hall of Fame case

Mark Feinsand
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Edgar Martinez
5. Mike Mussina
6. Manny Ramirez
7. Mariano Rivera
8. Curt Schilling
9. Gary Sheffield
10. Omar Vizquel

Three of the players I voted for a year ago -- Vladimir Guerrero, Chipper Jones and Jim Thome -- were inducted into the Hall, so the holdovers (Bonds, Clemens, Edgar, Mussina, Manny, Schilling and Sheffield) took up the first seven spots on my ballot.

That left me with up to three open spots to fill. Rivera was an obvious choice for one of them in his first time on the ballot, as was Halladay, who, despite a modest win total (203), was one of the most dominant pitchers of his generation. Although I delved into their statistics to confirm what I already knew, these two were no-brainers.

Video: Roy Halladay's case for the Hall of Fame

The final spot was a little more difficult. After a first examination of the 26 players, I narrowed down my choice to Todd Helton, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Fred McGriff, Andy Pettitte, Scott Rolen, Vizquel, Larry Walker and Vernon Wells. (OK, Wells wasn't really on my list, but he was one of my favorite players I ever covered, so I considered using my last spot for him for about 30 seconds.)

Although I probably would have voted for five or six of these players had the ballot been open-ended and without the 10-man limit, my choice ultimately came down to two: Pettitte and Vizquel.

Pettitte is viewed by many as a borderline candidate, a take I can't argue with. While his candidacy might be seen differently by voters, I think he belongs in the conversation. (Based on my voting history, I'm obviously not holding his HGH admission against him.) Having seen similar players such as Jorge Posada, Kenny Lofton and Johan Santana fall off the ballot in their first years, I considered voting for Pettitte in an effort to help him get the requisite 5 percent for him to be on the ballot again next year.

Ultimately, Vizquel's excellence in the field (he took home 11 Gold Gloves and is in the conversation as the best defensive shortstop ever) won out. He might not have been an offensive force, but Vizquel was far from an automatic out, finishing his career with 2,877 hits. Pettitte had a great career and will likely be in the mix for my vote again next year, but my belief that Vizquel should be in the Hall outweighed my hopes of seeing Pettitte remain on the ballot.

Jeffrey Flanagan
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Andruw Jones
5. Edgar Martinez
6. Mike Mussina
7. Manny Ramirez
8. Mariano Rivera
9. Curt Schilling
10. Larry Walker

It was difficult leaving off McGriff and Rolen, but we only get 10 spots, which is why I've always favored a binary system -- simply yes or no to each candidate. As for the PED issue, my stance hasn't really changed: If what they did (or didn't) do is so egregious, the Hall of Fame should take those players off the ballot. Don't make us be the morality judges.

Video: MLB Network debates Bonds, Clemens' merits for HOF

Richard Justice
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Edgar Martinez
5. Mike Mussina
6. Mariano Rivera
7. Scott Rolen
8. Curt Schilling
9. Billy Wagner
10. Larry Walker

Easy calls on nine of the 10. All belong in the Hall. As for Wagner, he's one of greatest closers ever, and if they're part of the game (same for DHs), the best of them should be in the Hall. I didn't like leaving off Andruw Jones, Todd Helton, Jeff Kent, Omar Vizquel, Andy Pettitte, Manny Ramirez and Gary Sheffield, who at least deserve to be in the conversation longer.

Jon Paul Morosi
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Edgar Martinez
5. Fred McGriff
6. Mike Mussina
7. Mariano Rivera
8. Scott Rolen
9. Curt Schilling
10. Larry Walker

I voted for Bonds and Clemens, as I have every year. For now, at least, my policy regarding players tied to PED use remains unchanged: I do not vote for players suspended under MLB's drug policy from 2005 to present, but I support the best all-around players from the complicated era that preceded it.

Rivera is one of the clearest first-ballot Hall of Famers in history, and Halladay's dominant peak (in a hitter-friendly ballpark, against AL East competition) makes him worthy of the Hall. McGriff, overlooked for far too long, hit more home runs -- with a better adjusted OPS -- than first-ballot Hall of Famers Dave Winfield and Carl Yastrzemski; McGriff is eminently qualified for Cooperstown.

My toughest decision came among Rolen, Vizquel and Sheffield for the last of my 10 spots. I opted for Rolen, given the overall quality of his career, at a position underrepresented in the Hall. Rolen is one of only three third basemen in history with at least seven Gold Gloves and seven All-Star appearances. The others are Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt.

Video: MLB Network on Edgar Martinez's case for the HOF

Chris Haft
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Jeff Kent
5. Edgar Martinez
6. Mike Mussina
7. Mariano Rivera
8. Curt Schilling
9. Omar Vizquel
10. Larry Walker

Rivera's career forestalls debate. And if you feel free to vote for closers, you should feel free to vote for other specialists, such as Martinez the designated hitter. I dismounted my moral high horse regarding Bonds and Clemens two or three years ago. I needed some persuasion to vote for Walker; by contrast, I remained stubbornly loyal to Kent. Mussina embodied consistency; Schilling dominated the postseason and Halladay finished 98 games above .500 in just 390 starts. As for Vizquel, I pity those who can't or won't comprehend his excellence.

Vote totals of the 6 MLB.com writers

With 75 percent of the vote needed for entry to the Hall, Bonds, Martinez, Rivera, Mussina, Clemens, Halladay, Schilling and Walker received enough support -- the first six appearing on all six ballots, and the other two appearing on five of six ballots (83 percent) -- from MLB.com writers.

Barry Bonds -- 6 votes
Roger Clemens -- 6
Roy Halladay -- 6
Edgar Martinez -- 6
Mike Mussina -- 6
Mariano Rivera -- 6
Curt Schilling -- 5
Larry Walker -- 5
Fred McGriff -- 2
Manny Ramirez -- 2
Scott Rolen -- 2
Omar Vizquel -- 2
Billy Wagner -- 2
Andruw Jones -- 1
Jeff Kent -- 1
Gary Sheffield -- 1
Michael Young -- 1

Duffy focused on reviving velocity, career

After setbacks marred brilliant flashes, Royals' ace using offseason to set up 'pivotal year'
MLB.com

KANSAS CITY -- Royals left-hander Danny Duffy knows he is at somewhat of a crossroads.

A third-round pick by the Royals in 2007, Duffy has both tantalized and frustrated fans and club officials. He quit baseball while in the Minor Leagues, came back, fought through injuries, dazzled opponents and nearly no-hit Tampa Bay in 2016 while striking out a franchise-record 16 batters.

KANSAS CITY -- Royals left-hander Danny Duffy knows he is at somewhat of a crossroads.

A third-round pick by the Royals in 2007, Duffy has both tantalized and frustrated fans and club officials. He quit baseball while in the Minor Leagues, came back, fought through injuries, dazzled opponents and nearly no-hit Tampa Bay in 2016 while striking out a franchise-record 16 batters.

As Duffy appeared to be developing into one of the top left-handed starters in baseball, he signed a five-year, $65 million contract in early 2017. Less than a year later, he was arrested for driving under the influence.

Duffy is 30 years old now, and the clock is ticking. He is in the middle of that lucrative deal that runs through 2021. And he's coming off a disappointing 2018 season, as he struggled to keep his ERA under 5.00, but finished at a 4.88 mark.

While the talent has always been there, Duffy's velocity, which touched 97 mph a couple of years ago, has dropped into the 90-93 mph range. He was as alarmed by the fall-off as anyone. So this offseason, Duffy has vowed to do what is necessary to retrieve that electric fastball and correct his career path.

"It's still in there," Duffy told MLB.com by phone. "I've still got it in me."

Duffy has spent the last few months working to ensure he can regain his former velocity as well as avoid those frequent trips to the disabled list. He said he feels refreshed.

"This offseason has been so different," Duffy said. "This offseason, I didn't feel like I let the whole planet down [like after my DUI]. You have a ton of kids looking up to you. I was standing on a lot of shoulders. This is probably the last time I talk about this, but I needed -- I really needed -- to look in the mirror. And I did.

"Look, I've been called a head case since I was 18. But as you get older, maturity comes along. I feel I'm there. I'm committed to doing what I have to do to help this team win. I want to be a big part of it."

Video: KC@CWS: Duffy hurls 5 2/3 scoreless with 7 strikeouts

Compared to the 2017 offseason, this offseason has been an awakening for Duffy.

"I haven't spoken much about this, but I'm set up with a physical therapist to do what we can do to get my shoulder healthy," Duffy said. "I know I can [hit mid-90s] again. I'm comfortable I can handle the workload. I've left no stone unturned this offseason. I'm 30 and still have potential. That's crazy, but it's true."

Duffy has been working with trainer Mike Swan of the Elite Performance and Rehabilitation Center in Santa Barbara, Calif.

"I'm in there twice a week, three hours at a time," Duffy said. "We're doing a lot of resistance stuff, core stuff. It's not fun, but I can honestly say I've never been this focused on strength training. It's not about being in the best shape of your life and all that stuff that people make fun of. It's just being consistent. It's a pivotal year, and I'll be ready.

"I've worked hard like this before, but never as smart as I have this year. I know I haven't maxed out or anything. I know talk is cheap. I'm just being honest. I think I'm ready to really have a big year. I can't predict the future, but I'm learning as a I go. I had a pretty rough last couple of years, but I have a good grasp of what I can offer."

Duffy also is pumped about what the Royals have done this offseason, adding Billy Hamilton, Terrance Gore and Chris Owings.

Which Royal will be the speediest?

"Our speed is going to be high up there," Duffy said. "Everything I've heard about Hamilton is through the roof. Anytime you get somehow of his caliber on defense, like a Lorenzo Cain, it's going to have a huge impact on the staff."

Video: Flanagan discusses Hamilton's impact on Royals

Duffy now sees the Royals regaining their past identity of gaining an edge on the bases and in the field.

"Back in 2014 and '15, we definitely did everything we could to squeeze every run out of our offense and prevent every run on defense," Duffy said. "That's who we were. We weren't a power team. We were scrappy and won a lot of close games.

"People will laugh at this, but I'm not dreaming at all to say we could compete [for the division]. This division is wide open. I feel like we're good enough. It's there for the taking."

Meanwhile, Duffy, as fans will observe from his Twitter account, is one of the biggest supporters of the team across the parking lot, the Kansas City Chiefs, and their star quarterback, Pat Mahomes.

"I watch every game," Duffy said. "I will get so much crap for this, but I was raised a Broncos fan by my uncle. But I want to see the Chiefs win the Super Bowl. I want to see this, and it's good for the city. I pull for them. What's good for the city is good for us. They were there for us when we won it all."

Duffy said he doesn't have a relationship with Mahomes yet, but he has the utmost respect for Mahomes' arm strength.

"His fastball is better than mine," Duffy said. "The last person to take over this town like he has was Eric Hosmer. The person that [Mahomes] is, he has captured this town, and I'm glad to share a parking lot with him. There are guys who can capture this town. Eric Berry was one, and I think the last was Eric Hosmer."

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

Kansas City Royals, Danny Duffy

1 per team: Players who could stay put until 2025

MLB.com

The 2013 season doesn't seem that long ago, does it? It seems like it just happened. (The passage of time is a crazy thing.) But in the world of baseball, it was a long, long time ago. How long? Look at the top 10 hitters and the top 10 pitchers in WAR in '13. Of those 10 hitters and 10 pitchers, only two players on each list (Mike Trout and Joey Votto among the hitters, Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright among the pitchers) are still on the same teams they were just six years ago. That is an astounding amount of turnover, and reminds us how difficult it can be to predict the future.

Nevertheless: Let's try. Today at the Thirty, we attempt to pick the one player on each team's current 40-man roster who is most likely to still be on that roster in six years. Sticking to the current roster raises the level of difficulty. Otherwise, I could just pick Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the Blue Jays, and every other team's top prospect, and be done with it. For this list, you have to be here now and in 2025. The crazy thing about this experiment of guesses: There will be multiple, maybe double-digit, teams that have none.

The 2013 season doesn't seem that long ago, does it? It seems like it just happened. (The passage of time is a crazy thing.) But in the world of baseball, it was a long, long time ago. How long? Look at the top 10 hitters and the top 10 pitchers in WAR in '13. Of those 10 hitters and 10 pitchers, only two players on each list (Mike Trout and Joey Votto among the hitters, Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright among the pitchers) are still on the same teams they were just six years ago. That is an astounding amount of turnover, and reminds us how difficult it can be to predict the future.

Nevertheless: Let's try. Today at the Thirty, we attempt to pick the one player on each team's current 40-man roster who is most likely to still be on that roster in six years. Sticking to the current roster raises the level of difficulty. Otherwise, I could just pick Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the Blue Jays, and every other team's top prospect, and be done with it. For this list, you have to be here now and in 2025. The crazy thing about this experiment of guesses: There will be multiple, maybe double-digit, teams that have none.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

EAST

Blue Jays: Danny Jansen, C
Unlike Vlad Jr. and Bo Bichette, he's already on the 40-man roster; he hit three homers in 81 at-bats last season. Like them, he's currently a top-75 prospect.

Orioles: Trey Mancini, OF
The toughest call on the board. The Orioles are starting over in every conceivable way, and there will be a lot of turnover here in the next few years. The guess here is Mancini, who is a fan favorite already and could maybe hang around long enough to be a platoon or bench bat in 2025, when he'll be only 32.

Rays: Willy Adames, SS
Attempting to guess who will be on the Rays' roster in two years, let alone six, is a fool's errand, but Adames is the centerpiece of everything the Rays are going to be trying to do over the next decade.

Red Sox: Mookie Betts, OF
He's a free agent after the 2020 season, but the Red Sox should never let a star like this get away. And he wants to stay

Video: Betts signs record deal to avoid arbitration

Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton, RF
As the guy who is signed through 2027, he's the obvious pick here. Aaron Judge hits free agency in 2023, by the way.

CENTRAL

Indians: Francisco Lindor, SS
It's tough to imagine the Indians letting Lindor go … though they may have to choose between him and Jose Ramirez.

Video: Lindor gets his second career Silver Slugger Award

Royals: Salvador Perez, C
He survived the last teardown. He's their Yadier Molina -- he'll survive any future ones.

Tigers: Jeimer Candelario, 3B
He's more likely than anyone else here to be a member of the next contending Tigers team.

Twins: Max Kepler, OF
Kepler feels like the type of player the Twins would come to some sort of modest, Paul DeJong-esque extension with, doesn't he?

White Sox: Yoan Moncada, 2B
With any luck, Eloy Jimenez will be there right alongside him.

WEST

Angels: Mike Trout, OF
Put it this way: If Mike Trout isn't on the 2025 Angels, everything about that franchise is radically different than it is right now.

Video: Guardado on the latest between Angels and Trout

Astros: Jose Altuve, 2B
Alex Bregman seems like the most likely extension candidate -- Altuve's deal runs out after the 2024 season -- but the Altuve-Astros relationship feels like one that shouldn't be broken.

Athletics: Matt Chapman, 3B
The ideal extension candidate, Chapman could be the face of the franchise whenever it moves into its new digs.

Mariners: Justus Sheffield, LHP
He made his debut in September, so he's on the Mariners' 40-man, even if he might not start the season in the Majors.

Rangers: Rougned Odor, 2B
He, Elvis Andrus and Joey Gallo will be free agents following the 2022 season. Here's betting Odor is the one who sticks around, if anybody does.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

EAST

Braves: Ronald Acuna Jr.
He'll actually reach free agency after the 2024 season, if you are counting the days. (That's to say: If you're every other team in baseball.)

Video: Snitker on best lineup spot for Acuna Jr. in 2019

Marlins: Lewis Brinson, OF
Considering he remains the primary haul from their trades last offseason, Brinson will get every possible opportunity to prove himself.

Mets: Brandon Nimmo, OF
Though maybe only because first base slugging prospect Peter Alonso isn't on the 40-man yet.

Nationals: Juan Soto, OF
If the Nationals don't extend him, he'll hit the free-agent market with Acuna.

Phillies: Rhys Hoskins, 1B
This answer could very well change depending on how free agency shakes out this offseason.

CENTRAL

Brewers: Josh Hader, LHP
Yes, yes, he's a reliever, but still: He seems like one of the few relievers on earth worthy of talking long-term, under-market extension with, yes?

Cardinals: Paul DeJong, SS
The extension he signed last year gives the Cardinals team options on him in both 2024 and '25, and if he keeps playing like he has been, they'll happily pick them both up. (It's also possible the answer here is Yadier Molina, and may be through 2035.)

Cubs: Kris Bryant, 3B
This will be the most-watched are-they-gonna-extend-him-soon? story in baseball over the next couple of years.

Video: Kris Bryant is the No. 8 third baseman right now

Pirates: Mitch Keller, RHP
He's already on the 40-man, and he might be the best pitcher in an already underrated rotation by season's end.

Reds: Eugenio Suarez, 3B
He's signed through 2024, and the Reds have a club option on him for '25. Also, top prospect Nick Senzel isn't on the 40-man yet.

WEST

D-backs: Ketel Marte, SS
He's already got options for 2023 and '24, and he'll just be into his 30s when the D-backs have to make their next decision on him. Newly acquired catcher Carson Kelly could be the answer here as well.

Dodgers: Corey Seager, SS
Isn't right now the perfect time to start talking extension with Seager?

Giants: Buster Posey, C
As long as Posey is still playing, he'll be a Giant … right, Farhan?

Padres: Franmil Reyes, OF
It's tough to even imagine this kid being 30 someday.

Rockies: Nolan Arenado, 3B
They did a mega-extension with Charlie Blackmon last offseason, so they are clearly willing to go that route. Arenado is eligible for free agency next winter, so we'll find out his long-term fate pretty soon.

Video: Arenado seeks record $30 million in arbitration

Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.

Royals bringing 19 NRIs to Spring Training

No. 7 prospect Lopez, right-hander Ynoa among invites to camp
MLB.com

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals have invited 19 non-roster players to Spring Training, 18 of which were in the organization last year.

The exception is 27-year-old right-hander Michael Ynoa, once a top prospect in the A's organization who later was dealt to the White Sox.

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals have invited 19 non-roster players to Spring Training, 18 of which were in the organization last year.

The exception is 27-year-old right-hander Michael Ynoa, once a top prospect in the A's organization who later was dealt to the White Sox.

The other non-roster invites are pitchers Foster Griffin (Royals No. 29 prospect), Jake Kalish, Richard Lovelady (No. 13), Jason Adam, Andres Machado and Zach Lovvorn; catchers Nick Dini, Xavier Fernandez, Sebastian Rivero and MJ Melendez (No. 5); infielders Nicky Lopez (No. 7), Humberto Arteaga, Erick Mejia, Samir Duenez, Jecksson Flores and Frank Schwindel; and outfielders Bubba Starling and Elier Hernandez.

Pitchers and catchers report to Surprise, Ariz, on Feb. 12, with the full squad reporting on Feb. 17.

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

Kansas City Royals, Michael Ynoa

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