The Royals have made it official. Top prospect Bobby Witt Jr. has been selected to the 40-man roster, while lefty Daniel Tillo has been designated for assignment in a corresponding roster move. Kansas City also placed righty Joel Payamps on the family medical emergency list.
Witt, the No. 2 pick in the 2019 draft, is regarded as one of the top three overall prospects in the Majors, even topping the lists at MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus. He forced his way onto the big league roster not only with last year’s combined .290/.361/.576 batting line between Double-A and Triple-A, but also with a massive spring showing. In a dozen Cactus League games and 34 plate appearances, Witt batted .406/.441/.781 with three home runs, three doubles and a pair of steals (in two attempts).
Even before the new collective bargaining agreement’s “prospect promotion incentives” went into place, the Royals have been unafraid to call up their best prospects as soon as they’re deemed ready. The Royals organization hasn’t made a habit of gaming service time in the past, evidenced both by president of baseball operations Dayton Moore’s public stance on the matter and the Opening Day appointments of several prospects (most recently, right-hander Brady Singer in 2020).
Witt, 21, has been primarily a shortstop in his brief minor league tenure but is expected to shift to the hot corner in the big leagues. The Royals are deep in infield talent, and Nicky Lopez in particular played shortstop at a Gold Glove-caliber level this past season. Witt could still see his share of reps at shortstop, but Adalberto Mondesi is also in the picture there.
Tillo, 25, split the 2021 season between Double-A and Triple-A, where he pitched to a combined 4.03 ERA with a 27-to-20 K/BB ratio in 29 innings of work. A third-round pick by the Royals back in 2017, Tillo has a career 4.25 ERA in 330 2/3 innings at the minor league level, most of which have come as a starter. The Royals will have a week to trade Tillo, place him on outright waivers or release him.
Opening day, home opener, Witt’s major league debut and Greinke on the mound.. exciting day for Royals fans!
Now if the pitching “Class of ’18” takes the next step it’ll get really exciting in KC.
Nicky Lopez hitting 9th in their order. Bobby is the 2-hitter.
Good to see. Now reality.
Congrats to the KC fans. Something like this is usually a kind of “coming of age” pronouncements.
Even as a White Sox fan, I like this. I understand the reason behind service time games, but appreciate when teams don’t play them. I hope he’s as good as advertised…except when playing the Sox, of course.
And before anyone points it out, I am aware of the new rule in the CBA and it is probably more due to that than anything else that he’s up to start the year, but still, I’m happy for him, the Royals, and just true fans of the game.