The Kansas City Royals are a terrible team at 26-46, last in the AL Central, and with a run differential of minus-99, but they do have an excellent farm system and perhaps a bright future. One big piece of that system will make his big-league debut tonight against the visiting Texas Rangers in first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino, the No. 3 overall prospect in the organization and No. 98 overall in the sport. KC is a +140 underdog at Caesars Sportsbook.
The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Pasquantino is given a hit grade of 60 on a scale of 20-80 by MLB.com. In his final season at Old Dominion, he hit an absurd .573 with 16 homers in 56 games and was chosen in the 11th round of the 2019 draft – Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman was the No. 1 pick that year and is up and playing well as a rookie. He's +2500 for AL Rookie of the Year at FanDuel and Pasquantino is +5000. Another Royal, Bobby Witt, is +500. He was the No. 2 overall pick in 2019.
This year at Triple-A Omaha, the 24-year-old Pasquantino slashed .280/.372/.576 with 18 homers, the third-most in Triple-A and by far the most in the Royals organization. Pasquantino won the International League Player of the Month Award for May, and only three Triple-A players 25 or younger had an OPS higher than his .948.
Entering Monday, there were 770 minor league qualifiers and Pasquantino was the only one of those with a walk rate above 12 percent (12.5), a strikeout rate below 13 percent (12.2) and a slugging percentage above .500 (.576). If there's one concern, just one of Pasquantino's 16 doubles and six of his 18 homers have come off lefties as he has struggled against southpaws at times. George Brett awesomely dubbed him the "Italian Nightmare" in spring training.
Kansas City is one of the worst offensive teams in the majors and has an opening at first base/DH after trading Carlos Santana to Seattle. Pasquantino was actually called up ahead of Monday's 10-4 loss to Texas, but the Royals wanted to give him a day to adjust before starting him. Pasquantino is at DH and batting sixth. He'll start off facing Rangers right-hander Jon Gray (3-3, 4.18 ERA). Gray is 1-3 with a 4.47 road ERA.
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