Royals outfielder Drew Waters will be out of action for six weeks due a left oblique strain, reports Anne Rogers of MLB.com. Given that there’s about five weeks until Opening Day, it seems as though Waters is destined to miss the start of the season.
Waters, 24, was a second round draft pick of Atlanta and was considered one of the best prospects in the game not too long ago. Baseball America had him up in the #32 slot on their top 100 list going into 2021, with reports highlighting his defense, speed, throwing arm and ability to hit from both sides of the plate. The biggest red flag on his profile, however, was a propensity for strikeouts that has carried into the upper levels of the minors as well as the big leagues.
Waters spent 2021 in Triple-A and struck out in 30.9% of his plate appearances, finishing with a .240/.329/.381 batting line and 94 wRC+. He had some similar results in the first half of 2022 before getting flipped to the Royals alongside two other minor leaguers for a Competitive Balance draft pick. The organizational switch seemed to suit Waters, as he finished the season strong. He hit .295/.399/.541 in Omaha before getting promoted to the majors in August, then hit .240/.324/.479 in the bigs for a wRC+ of 125. Those strong numbers aside, the strikeout issues still lingered. He was punched out in 28.7% of his trips to the plate with Omaha and 36.7% with the Royals.
Even though the strikeouts are still a work in progress, it seems the club believes in Waters enough to give him a lengthy audition. The trade of Michael A. Taylor to the Twins freed up center field and seemingly moved Waters to the top of the depth chart there. He’s considered a strong defender and could prove to be a useful player out there even without strong offense, similar to Taylor, though an above-average bat would obviously be ideal.
It seems that the audition will have to be delayed, at least for a short time. If the provided timeline holds, then Waters won’t miss too much of the season, but oblique injuries are often tricky and recoveries from them don’t always go exactly as planned. For as long as he’s out, the club will have to come up with a plan to cover the position. Manager Matt Quatraro says that Kyle Isbel will “get every opportunity to grab that spot,” per Rogers. Isbel has hit just .226/.281/.361 in the majors thus far but has a much stronger line of .268/.357/.447 in Triple-A over the past two years. He also has strong defensive numbers so far and could be a very useful contributor if he hits at the major league level.
With Isbel likely moving into center for a while, that will free up some playing time in the corners for others. Edward Olivares is a straightforward outfielder in the mix, while there are also many infielders who could see time on the grass, such as Nate Eaton, Hunter Dozier, Samad Taylor and Nick Pratto. There’s also catcher MJ Melendez, who has seen some time in the outfield with Salvador Perez taking the bulk of playing time behind the plate. A non-roster wild card will be Franmil Reyes, who recently signed a minor league deal with the club. He hasn’t played much outfield in recent years but the Waters injury could potentially free up some at-bats for him in the designated hitter slot.
Obliques or tricky expect him to be out for at least three months unfortunately.
And have a crappy 23 stat line unfortunately. Hard to catch up to rest of league when they are in mid season form
I swear there can’t be a professional sports franchise with worse luck lately than the Royals. Although the Tigers are a close second.
Seriously? Lol Royals
The royals aren’t unlucky, just cheap and not ran very well
As i royals fan I could not agree more
Not unlucky, purposefully tanking and not spending money until new stadium in mid to late 20s….will be a frustrating few years ahead. They’re good for a championship run again in the early 30s…maybe.
AA has clearly done a great job in Atlanta, but Waters could make him regret giving him up for basically nothing.
Not sure a guy that’s a had a questionable attitude and a near 40% k rate is a good fit on a team that’s a WS contender.
Round up generously much?
You do realize that 36.7 is very close to 40, right? Duh
This is a good place to give players union a little credit (admittedly my first time ever doing so)
A player peaks typically around 27/28. Which is roughly the same time a player is eligible for free agency/able to change franchises. Many players, especially hitters never put it together til that age but it’s nearly impossible to hold onto guys like that at that age. Mainly due to how long they have been in your system so a change of scenery is almost necessary.
Not much Braves could have done to avoid selling him low unless they would have sold him at his peak value as a prospect which is stupidly not their business model. Best of luck to him
I think I’d rather have JR Ritchie than Waters so not nothing at all.
Every GM ushers out the door some of their predecessor’s talent. AA took his time to pick-and-choose who he wants. I don’t think he’ll lose sleep over Waters, cashing him in for a comp balance pick, essentially a re-do, sorely needed with the farm thin.
Obliques weren’t reported much in the 90’s and 00’s, but in the past 10 years, obliques have caused many IL stints.
Here is a shot in the dark for someone out there with a medical background, could launch angle and the body motion to uppercut vs the level swing teachings of yesteryear be causing the uptick in oblique injuries?
Hope Waters comes back feeling good.
Certainly no medic here, but I would say injury reports have just gotten more specific over time
I would say injury reports have just gotten more specific over time
Yup. I remember when Buchholz fractured his neck, the crack Boston medical staff diagnosed it as a boo-boo, and “they don’t do MRIs on boo-boos”. That probably made the difference in us not making the playoffs that year (and losing in the 1st round).
Good to see that we’ve moved on from “boo-boos”.
Dunno but I do think muscle pulls in general are more common with the focus on weight lifting in pretty much every sport. Obliques are just an easy one to pull in baseball where there’s so much rotational energy.
It could be. As someone who does a tiny bit of lifting, but having read a decent amount of literature about lifting, I’ve incorporated more twist types of resistance training rather than just bench presses. Mentally, I miss the feeling of being to lift more, but I probably have more overall body strength.
Big loss was really looking forward to what he could be
He looked a god bit better than I expected. The 40/12 K/W is to high, but not crazy high for a decent CF with a little bit of pop.
Drew Waters Bat
He could be? He isn’t going out to the pasture to sleep Mister Drake. Only 6 weeks. 6 months left till the end of the season.
Booty callers walk at night with their ears crossed
Drew Waters Bat
That makes as much sense as waxing your car in the rain.
Drew Waters Bat
I guess back to the rack 6 weeks for me, I’m a Braves fan but still a fan of Drew and his swing so it stays.
I’m sure that’s not the last with the W.B.C. coming.
If he was on the Marlins, they would the fish out of waters.
The title of this article also doubles as a title of an early Nick Cave demo 😛
24, tons of strikeouts doesn’t hit for the avg he was projected to and has no power? It wasn’t looking promising even before the injury. I like the Royals though, so I hope he becomes a good piece for them.