Outfielder Kyle Isbel has made the Royals’ Opening Day roster, manager Mike Matheny announced Wednesday (via Anne Rogers of MLB.com). The Royals already have a full 40-man roster, so they’ll have to make room before officially adding Isbel to it.
Isbel, who turned 24 earlier this month, has been a Royal since they used a third-round pick on him in 2018. He hit well at the rookie and Single-A levels during his first two years in the organization, though Isbel batted just .216/.282/.361 (86 wRC+) with five home runs and eight stolen bases in 214 plate appearances during his High-A debut in 2019. Nevertheless, he remains a well-regarded farmhand for Kansas City, as Baseball America ranks Isbel the team’s sixth-best prospect and writes that he could be a high-average, 15- to 20-HR hitter who offers “plus speed” and quality defense in the majors.
There was no minor league season in 2020, but Isbel turned heads at the Royals’ alternate site and then came back strong this spring with a .333/.420/.548 line and five extra-base hits (three doubles, two homers) in 42 at-bats. Along with Isbel, Andrew Benintendi, Michael A. Taylor and Jarrod Dyson figure to be the Royals’ top choices in the outfield at the start of the season.