With the exception of the second base position, the Kansas City Royals‘ starting infield looks very well set. But, the devil is in the details. In an ongoing series, we will look at the individuals in camp who are fighting for a spot in the Royals’ infield, and make a prediction as to where they will be come Opening Day.
Alcides Escobar will be starting his third year with the Royals this year. In the first two, he has consistently impressed with the glove, and matured into a very solid and consistent hitter last year. He has suffered from an almost criminal lack of national recognition for his talents, but he is arguably the first name on the lineup card for manager Ned Yost, no mean feat in the Royals’ lineup.
Prediction: Starting shortstop on Opening Day, should hit second in the lineup.
Irving Falu would have liked his chances to make the 25-man roster even a few weeks ago. He may still break camp with the team, but recent acquisitions have made his task harder. The Royals won’t forget that Falu hit .341 in the 24 games he got at the major league level last year, and if he can show that he can perform with the glove as well, he could be on the bench on Opening Day.
Prediction: We’ll know a lot more as Spring Training goes on, but I think Falu will find himself at Triple-A Omaha on Opening Day.
Elliot Johnson was the player to be named later in the blockbuster trade with the Tampa Bay Rays last December. He is a shortstop, and although he appeared in 123 games last year for the Rays, he is only fighting for a backup role in Kansas City. He has a more than decent chance of getting it as well. Johnson is a more proven commodity than Falu and given the depth the Royals already have, it seems unlikely that they would have asked for him without thinking that he would be with the big league club.
Prediction: He’ll have a challenge from Falu to fight off, but he should be the favourite to have a reserve infielder spot on the 25-man roster.