With their record of 38-80, the Kansas City Royals have quietly rivaled the Vegas-bound A’s for the title of baseball’s worst team all season long. However, while their record is only made worse by the fact they play in the AL Central, to their credit, Kansas City is coming off of a solid seven-game winning streak and is demonstrating a fine brand of baseball lately.
In fact, with an active trade deadline that cleared out some veteran pieces, lately Kauffman Stadium has proven to become an El Dorado full of young, undiscovered talent with plenty to offer. Unfortunately, with little media attention surrounding a team projected to lose 100 games, fantasy managers have been left in the dark regarding the Royals’ intriguing young core. That is a pity because as their recent success has shown, they have some bonified big-league talent aside from Bobby Witt Jr. with serious fantasy value. On that note, in this regal report, the hot–if not incredibly well-known–Kansas City Royals players are outlined for ambitious fantasy managers ready to hit the waiver wire.
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The Five Royals with Something to Prove
*Note that all stats are relevant entering play on August 12th*
Freddy Fermin, C
If baseball had an equivalent to the NBA’s sixth-man award, Freddy Fermin might very well be its recipient. Despite being the back-up to Royals’ legend Salvador Perez, Fermin has nevertheless dominated his role quietly.
Since his May 2 call-up, Fermin has raked to the tune of a .302/.337/.535 slash line with 9 HR and 27 RBI through 159 ABs in 52 games. Specifically, over his last 15 games, Fermin is hitting an exceptional .389 with a 1.145 OPS and 5 HR. In fact, even defensively the 28-year-old has been a godsend and is tied for second on the Royals in DRS despite significantly limited action this year (*not to mention he also runs at an above-average clip*).
As a result of his great play, Fermin has been getting regular starts at catcher while Salvador Perez has seen reps at first base. While still officially the “back-up,” one can expect Fermin to see a lot more playing time as the season winds down with his hot streak coinciding with Perez’s need for rest. For that reason, with offensively competent catchers being so rare, Fermin is a terrific waiver wire add right now and someone to consider next season as well.
⚾Freddy Fermin! HR (9)
8/9/23 @ BOS, ⬆️ 9th
vs RHP Kenley Jansen
99.0 MPH / 28° / 398 ft to LF
Off a 95.0 MPH cutter
▶️It's a home run in 28/30 parks.◀️
🏟️(Not in BAL, COL.)
— Home Run Report (@homerunreport) August 10, 2023
Brady Singer, SP
For those on the fence about rostering Brady Singer: Fear not, the aches of indecision will soon subside. That is because, with his recent play, it seems very unlikely that the Royals’ ace will be available much longer.
Despite an ugly 5.05 ERA on the season, accompanied by a 1.37 WHIP, 108K, and 8 W in 128.1 IP, Singer has been one of baseball’s hottest pitchers and the ace of the Kansas City Royals of late. In five starts since the All-Star break, Singer has pitched to the tune of a 2.94 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, with 31 Ks and 3 Wins over the course of 33.2 IP.
With all the hype he had entering the season, Singer’s resurgent second half does not feel like a fluke. Expect his great play to continue for the foreseeable future.
Dairon Blanco, OF
Since Jorge Soler, it has felt as though the Kansas City Royals have been in need of another Cuban outfielder to give their lineup some thump. With Dairon Blanco, they may have found their man.
Although actually a lot smaller and a very different player, Blanco plays with the same immense offensive potential as Soler has demonstrated at points during his career. While it is important to acknowledge his rookie stats through 38 games (.241/.294/.418, O HR, 12 RBI, 14 SB), it is really his minor league numbers that command respect.
In AAA this season, Blanco slashed .347/.444/.451 while managing to steal an insane 47 bases in 49 games, proving StatCast was right in crediting him with MLB’s second-best sprint speed. Aside from that, although sacrificing some power for a greater average this year, he did successfully slug for 14 HR and 61 RBI in 107 AAA games last year.
Undoubtedly, as a result of the incredible offensive ability Blanco showcased in the minors, fantasy managers need to follow the Royals’ rookie. In dynasty leagues, Blanco is a no-brainer, and could even prove worthwhile down the stretch this year in non-keeper leagues.
In only 79 at-bats, #DaironBlanco is 2nd in Kansas City with the most triples (4) and 15th in all of MLB. Can you imagine if he would have had 300 at-bats? Thanks @cperez58 for pointing this out to me today. @Royals @KansasCity pic.twitter.com/til4BHc3Hd
— MLB Player Agent Lisette Carnet (@lisettecarnet) August 11, 2023
Samad Taylor, 2B, OF
Heralded as a mid-tier prospect when the Blue Jays traded him to the Royals in a package for Whit Merrifield last season, it has not taken fellow speed demon Samad Taylor long to showcase his incredible wheels at the big league level. After 42 SB in just 74 AAA games this year secured him a call-up (*along with a .314/.431/.473 line plus 6 HR and 47 RBI*), Taylor has contributed a solid 6 SB so far in 20 MLB games.
The reason the 25-year-old’s roster rates have failed to go viral, however, is because of his poor MLB performance thus far. Despite six steals, Taylor is hitting a poor .196/.283/.261 with O HR and 4 RBI. With that said, for those with enough faith to trust his MiLB numbers, Taylor’s elite sprint speed is absolutely worth stashing. In fact, considering his base running prowess, he may even be a dynasty candidate.
Maikel Garcia, 3B, SS
With middling roster rates, Maikel Garcia has proven to be somewhat forgettable in fantasy this year next to Bobby Witt Jr. on the infield. Despite a solid 18 SB to go with a more productive .286 BA and .330 OBP compared to the superstar shortstop, Garcia has not had the same traction among skippers.
While that is certainly due to his lackluster power numbers (4 HR in 84 games), it is nevertheless still crucial to see the value Garcia provides. For instance, with the perks of batting leadoff, Garcia has managed to place third on the club in hits, fourth in runs scored and surprisingly fourth place in RBI. In addition, his savant numbers are also encouraging.
With some elite metrics (*including a fantastic hard hit rate, chase rate and whiff percentage*), the hope for Garcia is that with time his disproportionately poor barrel rate and walk percentage will improve as the stat cast suggests.
Hence, even if he pales in comparison to Bobby Witt Jr., taking a gamble on the Royals’ third baseman is probably worth it for most managers right now and into the future.