2:10pm: The Royals have now announced the Garcia and Lopez moves. Additionally, Franmil Reyes was optioned to Omaha while Freddy Fermin was recalled. Once a middle-of-the-order threat, Reyes has fallen on hard times in recent years. He’s slashing just .186/.231/.288 here in 2023.
11:14am: The Royals are set to recall infield prospect Maikel Garcia, one of the top minor leaguers in their system, Anne Rogers of MLB.com reports (via Twitter). He’ll take the roster spot of fellow infielder Nicky Lopez, who’s headed to the injured list due to appendicitis. That’s likely just a portion of a larger slate of roster moves for the Royals today, she adds.
Garcia made his big league debut as a 22-year-old last season but appeared in just nine games, batting .318/.348/.364 in a tiny sample of 23 plate appearances. He’s had a slow start to the season in Triple-A Omaha, where he’s turned in a .242/.348/.347 slash with a homer, seven doubles, four steals, a 14.3% walk rate and a 19.6% strikeout rate.
Widely regarded among the Royals’ top six prospects, Garcia lands third in their system at MLB.com, sixth at Baseball America and fifth on Keith Law’s list at The Athletic. He’s regarded as an above-average defender at shortstop with good bat-to-ball skills and solid plate discipline. Law opines that “if Garcia had even average power, he’d be a top-100 prospect” thanks to the strength of his other tools and his ability to handle multiple spots around the infield.
While Garcia has had a slow start in Omaha this year, he posted a more impressive .274/.341/.463 slash there in 186 plate appearances last year. He spent the rest of the season with Double-A Northwest Arkansas, and between the two levels he’s turned in a .285/.359/.427 with 11 homers, 34 doubles, a triple and a hearty 39 steals (in 47 tries).
Even absent an IL trip from Lopez, it’s not a surprise to see the Royals shuffling their infield mix. None of second baseman Michael Massey (.167/.173/.179, 81 plate appearances), third baseman Hunter Dozier (.161/.212/.226, 66 plate appearances) or shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. (.222/.266/.393, 124 plate appearances) has performed well at the plate so far in 2023. Garcia provides an option at any of those spots if the Royals want to make an early change. (Presumably, Witt has the longest leash given the high regard in which he’s held and a generally strong debut campaign in 2022.)
Like Massey, Dozier and Witt, the 28-year-old Lopez has also gotten out to a sluggish start in 2023. Through his first 67 plate appearances, the slick-fielding Lopez carries just a .200/.323/.291 batting line. The entire Kansas City offense has been anemic in 2023, with first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino, outfielder Edward Olivares and catcher Salvador Perez as the only regulars turning in even average offensive output on the year. (First baseman Nick Pratto and utilityman Matt Duffy have hit well, too, albeit in much smaller samples. Given the struggles up and down the lineup, it stands to reason that if Garcia is able to produce at the plate, the Royals will find a way to work him into the mix moving forward.
Watch out for the royals when their bats get hot !
I have said for awhile now I think Garcia is most likely their long term SS, with BWJ moving over to 3B eventually. I think the latter has shown some improvements on his defense this year though, so maybe he can in fact stick at SS. In any case, Garcia has an elite glove and could play all over the infield.
That Dozier contract is just brutal since it’s heavily back-loaded, so I understand why they’ve wanted to see if he can do *something* with the bat. Pretty sure they’re just going to have to cut their losses there at some point.
The Kansas City Royals & Colorado Rockies, might be the two most direction-less teams in MLB.
A few years back I would have disagreed with respect to Kansas City, but yeah these two teams rudderless.
the royals and the white sox seem to have their arrow pointing least towards true competition from a roster building standpoint, and maybe the marlins on non-pitching fronts, but the rockies seem genuinely sunk and will probably need to see change in first ownership, then everything stripped down and built back up in a new way otherwise they will continue to be lost while naturally lucking upon a decent player every now and again
Don’t forget the Las Vegas
Just in case you’re wondering Felix Fermin is not Freddy’s dad.
He sure seems to hit like him, though. I use “hit” loosely, too…
Royals about to take care of business, 15 wins in May. Vamos~ (play more matt duffy, when Lopez is well send down massey. Lopez’s numbers don’t show his clutch hitting). Excited to see garcia coming and reyes getting an adjustment