Meet the Italian Nightmare

June 8th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Anne Rogers' Royals Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

KANSAS CITY -- There aren’t many players in the Royals’ farm system generating as much buzz as Vinnie Pasquantino right now. The Royals’ No. 4 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, is mashing at Triple-A, entering the week with a 1.003 OPS and 15 home runs in 51 games for Omaha.

Pasquantino hears the buzz -- it’s hard to ignore that many mentions on Twitter -- but the 24-year-old is trying to focus on each day as it comes, knowing that if he does that, the production he’s seen to begin the 2022 season will continue.

“Yeah, I’ve seen it,” Pasquantino said with a laugh. “I appreciate it, and I love the fans -- we play for them -- but at the end of the day, I just have to do my thing. If I’m worrying about what people say on Twitter, then I’m probably not doing my thing. I’m only worried about competing for the Omaha Storm Chasers right now, the guys that are on my team and trying to help them win.”

That mindset is part of Pasquantino’s general approach to his professional career, which he’s tried to keep at the forefront of his routine since he was drafted in the 11th round of the 2019 Draft out of Old Dominion. Pasquantino has steadily climbed prospect lists over the past few years because of his plate discipline and overall package of contact and pop that’s rare in today’s game.

“At the end of the day, you've got to be where you are,” Pasquantino said. “That’s how I approach it. I know I’m going to get four or five at-bats every night. I know I’m going to play first base or DH. I want to make the best of it. I try not to give any of that away, and the last thing you want to do is be thinking about somewhere you’re not and give away four at-bats that night, end up having a bad night.

"For me, I just like competing and trying to win. It’s just approaching every game with the mindset of walking back to the locker room with a W for the team instead of with an L.”

Pasquantino, a laid-back slugger whose nickname is either Italian Breakfast or Italian Nightmare, depending on who you ask -- though he prefers the latter, because George Brett created that name -- hasn’t changed much about his swing or the mechanics this season. Minor tweaks to his pregame routine have allowed him to hunt more pitches he can do damage with, while taking his walks when he gets them, with a 12 percent base-on-ball rate this season.

The first baseman/designated hitter knows his MLB debut will come soon if he stays with his approach, and the Royals see him as a key part of their future wave.

Right now, Pasquantino's bat is knocking at the door of the Majors. Royals officials have said they’d like to see him continue that production in Triple-A for longer than the two-month start to the season -- but it’s hard to ignore any OPS that begins with a 1.

Pasquantino is just trying to ignore everything but putting up those consistent numbers every day at whatever level.

“I think about the Major Leagues every single day, but I’ve thought about the Major Leagues every single day since I was two or three years old,” Pasquantino said. “It doesn’t have anything to do with where I’m at right now. It’s just my entire life, I’ve wanted to be a Major League Baseball player. That’s been the dream -- not only to be a Major League Baseball player but to be a Major League Baseball player and win a World Series. Whenever I picture being in the big leagues, it’s always holding the World Series trophy.”