The royals announced on Thursday that they have recalled the top first base prospect Nick Prato by Triple-A Omaha as one of eight major league players. Catchers also come in the majors Sebastian Riveroinfielder Maikel Garcia and left Angel Zerpa, which were recalled by Double-A Arkansas. In addition, the Royals selected the infielder/outfielder contracts Nate Eatoncatcher Freddie Ferminoutfield player Brewer Hickel and infielders Michael Massey from Omaha.
The spate of signings comes in conjunction with the previously announced list of ten current royals who will be placed on the blacklist ahead of the team’s road series against the Blue Jays, where travel restrictions prevent unvaccinated athletes from entering Canada. Andreas Benintendi, Dylan Coleman, Hunter Dozier, Cam Gallagher, Kyle Isbel, Brad Keller, MJ Melendez, Whit Merrifield, Brady Singer and Michael A Taylor are now all formally on the blacklist.
As Anne Rogers of MLB.com tweetsthe roster spots of starting pitchers placed on the restricted list (i.e. Singer, Keller) cannot be filled until four days after their last pitch under MLB rules, which explains the discrepancy between the eight players added and the ten players who went on went to list the restricted list.
The royals said in today’s announcement that they expect to add “up to two more players” to the major league squad over the course of the series. They will make another addition tomorrow and Sunday. All players whose contracts have been included in the 40-man roster for this series can return to Triple-A without first having to clear waivers due to their status as Covid-19-related substitutes.
Pratto’s promotion is the most notable of all. The 14th overall pick of the 2017 draft, the California high school product slowly climbed the minor league ladder. He had a terrible performance in 2019 in High-A, and the cancellation of the following minor league season gave his potential stock a hit heading into 2021. The left hitter rebounded tremendously last year, blasting 36 home runs in one intervening season the minors top two tiers. That came with some alarming strikeout numbers, but Pratto’s combination of power and tremendous walk totals was enough to firmly put him in top prospect. He entered the season as Baseball America’s No. 43 farmhand.
Pratto was assigned to Omaha to open this year and has essentially picked up where he left off. He hit 17 more longballs and draw walks with a massive 15.1% clip, but he fanned out on over 30% of his trips to the plate. The end result – a .240/.374/.484 line through 337 plate appearances – is still excellent. The Royals nonetheless produced other top prospects Vinnie Pasquantino in front of Pratto, who apparently prefers that he be given a long leash to iron out deletion concerns in the upper undertones. There’s a very good chance he’ll return to Omaha after the Jays series, but Kansas City fans will at least get their first glimpse of a player they hope will eventually develop into a middle-class bat.
It will almost certainly be a short break for the group of players who have been temporarily added to the 40-man roster. Hicklen was briefly called up as a COVID substitute earlier in the season. Fermin, Massey and Eaton all have opportunities to make their big league debuts in the coming days. Fermin, a former Venezuela international, is scoring .242/.357/.422 with Omaha this season.
Massey, a fourth-round pick from Illinois in 2019, was recently named the No. 8 in the Kansas City system by Baseball America. He’s owned a .348/.408/.630 streak with six homers in 24 games since he was promoted to Omaha last month, and he’ll almost certainly have a lasting 40-man streak through next offseason (when Kansas City needed it). roster spot to avoid being selected in draft rule 5). Eaton is a former 21st-round VMI pick. BA recently ranked him 29th in the farm system in recognition of his .329/.388/.591 performance in the Storm Chasers.