Royals 2020 Vision and Beyond: Catcher Edition
Dayton Moore promised the Royals would be competitive again by 2020-2021. Well with that in mind, I am trying to get in Dayton Moore’s mind and see the 2020 vision and the vision beyond 2020. Ultimately, we all want to see if the Royals can get to another World Series someday soon. Well I aim to breakdown our chances in the future seasons by evaluating our current team and the stars of tomorrow in our minor league system. These articles could get extremely lengthy if I tried to cover everyone in the system. So instead I will break them down by the position. Given the fact that we just lost one of our biggest stars, Salvador Perez to season ending Tommy John Surgery, I felt this would be a good time to start with our catchers.
Cam Gallagher was projected to be the backup catcher this year on the Major league team. Yost wanted to give him his shot after his decent performance towards the end of 2017. Gallagher has tremendous ability defensively and this seems to be what has distinguished him lately and allowed him to get his shot. Interestingly, enough though he was mostly described as an offensive catcher coming up. For whatever reason, offensively he has hit a plateau and there are no real indicators he will excel beyond where he is at offensively. Gallagher has potential to be a great backup catcher at the major league level for quite some time, but is unlikely to ever take a starting spot. His offensive numbers over the last 8 seasons are pretty average at .244/.318/.349. Maybe I am wrong and he bounces back and improves more offensively, but to me he will likely be the Royals backup for Salvy for the next few seasons. At 25 now, and Salvy signed will 2022, Gallagher will likely be a trade prospect in the next couple years.
Meibrys Viloria is a great hitting catcher who projects to have big upside. He could be a starting catcher at some point down the line. At 23 years old getting Yost’s attention and getting some playing time at the major league level is a nice show of confidence. His defense isn’t anything to sneeze at with him throwing out bass runners 40% of the time. His glove is decent and he is very athletic. If he continues to show improvement he could be a regular at the majors by 2021. I see Viloria likely taking Gallagher’s backup role by 2022 and potentially starting in 2023 with Salvy’s contract running out in 2022. With Salvy’s age and wear and tear on his body, it is unlikely the Royals would be keeping him playing catcher beyond that point. While I see him taking Salvy’s starting job in 2023 and possibly being the starting catcher.
Chase Vallot is an interesting player. He walks even more than Salvy. His on base percentage is up there with the likes of Hosmer, but with a much lower batting average. This guy has an amazing eye for the zone. He can hit pretty darn well for a catcher as well. Not many catchers hit at the level he does. The question is, is he good enough defensively? Honestly, at 22 years old, it is probably too early to tell. But my gut says this is a guy who transitions to (First Base or DH. His hitting stats are a little more pedestrian for those positions though so his trade value is best while teams think he can still make it as a catcher. He could see the big leagues as early as the end of 2020, but I think he may be a trade target as well to gain more Bullpen Depth for the Major League level next offseason.
MJ Melendez is a stud. He is considered an elite level catcher defensively and that was right out of high school. He has a decent bat as well smacking .251/.322/.492 with 19 home runs and 73 RBI in 419 at bats at Lexington last year. He is a very exciting player and currently projected to be the next Salvador Perez for the Royals. At 19 years old, there is still a lot of development that needs to happen, but he will almost certainly be considered for Salvy’s replacement at the end of his contract in 2022. He could very well be ready by and may even be Salvy’s backup by the start of 2022. Only time will tell for sure, but most people seem to think this kid is the real deal and is probably our highest rated prospect right now. I am excited to see how this kid develops over the next couple seasons.
Let Your Voice Be Heard in the Comments Section Below
- What are your thoughts on what the Salvador Perez injury means for the Royals in 2019?
- Which one of these catchers has you most excited about their future with the Royals?