Royals rookies recent tear provides bright outlook for future

An infusion of youth in the lineup has sparked Kansas City to offensive surge.
Kansas City Royals' MJ Melendez (1) celebrates with Bobby Witt Jr. (7) at home plate following...
Kansas City Royals' MJ Melendez (1) celebrates with Bobby Witt Jr. (7) at home plate following his three-run home run during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, June 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)(Colin E. Braley | AP)
Published: Aug. 11, 2022 at 12:06 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - A recent infusion of youth in the lineup of the Kansas City Royals sparked by a pre-trade deadline purge of veterans has led to a surge in production and optimism for the future at Kauffman Stadium.

Since the trade deadline, when the Royals sent outfielder Andrew Benintendi to the New York Yankees and utilityman Whit Merrifield to the Toronto Blue Jays, rookies have ruled the Royals lineup.

Before 32-year-old Salvador Perez drove in rookie shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. with a double during the Royals’ Wednesday night win over the Chicago White Sox, rookies had produced a streak of 27 consecutive RBI for manager Mike Matheny’s squad.

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Twice in the last two weeks, the Royals have produced a starting lineup that is entirely homegrown players, marking just the second and third time in franchise history that feat has occurred, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. On Wednesday night, MJ Melendez’s go-ahead home run in the seventh inning fueled a come-from-behind 8-3 win over the White Sox and moved Kansas City’s record to 26-25 over the last two months following a 20-41 start.

Melendez’s home run was the 10th such hit in the month of August by a Kansas City rookie, something few franchises can even account for, as 17 of the other 29 clubs in the MLB don’t have 10 home runs from rookies for the entire season.

On Saturday night, 23-year-old first baseman Nick Pratto launched a walk-off home run over the center field fence. On Sunday, Melendez joined superstars Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr. as the most recent player to drive in six or more runs in a game at 23 or younger.

Following the weekend’s success, designated hitter Vinnie Pasquantino joined Lou Piniella and Bob Oliver as the third Royals rookie to homer in both games of a doubleheader. Piniella and Oliver achieved the feat in 1969.

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The recent influx of production comes as a welcome sight during a season that Witt Jr. anchors the lineup despite his inexperience.

Kansas City takes on the White Sox in a series finale Thursday at 2:10 before playing host to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a three-game series this weekend.