MLB Kansas City Royals

5 Players Who Are Sure to Shine in Kansas City Royals Spring Training

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5 Players Who Will Shine This Spring For the Kansas City Royals

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The small market Kansas City Royals are poised to make a run at a Central Division Title and possibly take a shot at a World Series run.

The Royals have been harvesting their young talent for some time now, and it is time that the young players live up to expectations. The Royals pride themselves on their homegrown talent as they do not have the deep pockets of some of the larger markets such as the Los Angeles Angels, New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers.

As you look around the diamond you see a player at a majority of the positions who grew within the Royals farm system like catcher Salvador Perez, first baseman Eric Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas, left fielder Alex Gordon and DH Billy Butler. It's not the Texas Rangers or Boston Red Sox lineup, but it's a lineup that if everyone plays to their potential it could be very good and surprise some teams.

The Royals also went out and traded for an ace last year when they traded the No. 1 prospect in baseball, outfielder Wil Myers, to the Tampa Bay Rays for starting pitcher James Shields. Shields brought his gritty style and winning ways to the top of the Royals rotation. After Shields the Royals have patched together a rotation that will eat innings and keep them in games. Guys like veterans Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie and youngsters Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura will need to be at their best for the Royals to contend in the Central.

The Royals do not have a bunch of big name, expensive players to carry the team for a month at a time, so they must rely on everyone contributing and doing their part. Let's take a look at five players who will shine this preseason.

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5. Justin Maxwell

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Justin Maxwell was acquired by the Kansas City Royals on July 31, 2013 to add some muscle to their lineup. Maxwell hit .268 with five home runs in 97 at bats. The Royals have other outfield options with guys such as Lorenzo Cain, who has not lived up to expectations, and Norichiki Aoki, whom they traded for this offseason. In 2011 Maxwell hit 18 home runs in 315 at bats, and I would like to see what he can do with 500 at bats. With a good spring, maybe we will get to see what he can do.

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4. Jason Vargas

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The Royals offered the one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer to Ervin Santana, but it was turned down as Santana continues to look for a long-term deal. The Royals decided that Santana would be to expensive and looked elsewhere. This led them to free agent Jason Vargas. Vargas and Santana had opposite seasons in 2013 as Santana excelled in his walk year where as Vargas was decent for the Los Angeles Angels but not the pitcher he was for the Seattle Mariners. If Vargas can regain his 2012 form which saw him throw 217 innings and win 14 games for Seattle, he could be a steal for the Royals.

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3. Eric Hosmer

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First baseman Eric Hosmer has been a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde in his first three seasons in the Big Leagues. In 2011, his rookie season, Hosmer hit .293 with 19 home runs. Then in 2012 Hosmer regressed with only 14 homers and an abysmal .232 average. He worked hard in the 2012 offseason to get his swing back and saw the hard work pay off as he brought the average back up to .302 and hit 17 home runs. Hosmer is looking to build on his fine 2013 season, and the sky is the limit for this kid.

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2. Mike Moustakas

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Mike Moustakas in an enigma. He was the top a top 20 prospect while he was in the minor leagues. He came up to the big club in 2011 with Eric Hosmer and showed some success with the bat. In 2012 Mous had 34 doubles and 20 home runs but only hit .242. Last season Moustakas struggled even more watching his average drop to .233 and his power numbers diminish. Mous got himself into shape this offseason and went down to Venezuela to get some extra work in. Look for Moustakas to regain the stroke that made him a top 10 prospect four seasons ago.

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1. Yordano Ventura

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

The 22-year-old Dominican Republic native, Yordano Ventura may just be the key to the Royals' 2014 season. The starting rotation is comprised of James Shields and four interchangeable pitchers. With Jason Vargas, Jeremy Guthrie and Bruce Chen assuming three of the rotation spots, Ventura could possibly knock one of those guys out of the rotation. Ventura has excellent stuff and has been compared to Pedro Martinez. With a good spring Ventura could move up the ladder and possibly come in as the No. 3 starter in the rotation for 2014.