Mar 26, 2022; Surprise, Arizona, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Brady Singer (51) throws against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning of a spring training game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

There are some questions surrounding the Kansas City Royals' roster heading into spring training this year, but one thing is certain — they'll break camp with a significantly younger group than they did last year.

The Royals began a sell-off of veteran position players last summer that has continued through this offseason, and as camp gets under way, youth is expected to be served in the lineup. The degree to which the roster will be loaded with players in their early to mid-20s, however, will be at least somewhat dependent on what happens this spring.

During the Dayton Moore administration, spring training performance often played a rather significant role in making decisions on the fringes of the Opening Day roster. Numerous key contributors to the Royals' run of success in the mid-2010s — most notably relievers Ryan Madson, Franklin Morales, Joe Blanton and Peter Moylan — joined the organization as non-roster invitees and were given opportunities to prove themselves in the Cactus League. It remains to be seen if J.J. Picollo, who enters his first spring training as head of the Royals' baseball operations department after succeeding Moore in that role last September, will place the same emphasis on spring training.

Here's how each position group looks with just over a week until camp begins. (Non-roster invitees are italicized.)



Scott Barlow, Aroldis Chapman, Dylan Coleman, Amir Garrett, Zack Greinke, Brad Keller, Jordan Lyles, Brady Singer, Ryan Yarbrough

With the addition of three major league free agents and the re-signing of Greinke, the Royals' pitching staff is more established heading into spring training than it's been in several years. The most intriguing story line with this group will be whether Keller and Yarbrough, both of whom shuttled between starting and relieving in 2022, are able to earn spots in the Opening Day rotation.


Kris Bubic, Max Castillo, Taylor Clarke, Jose Cuas, Jonathan Heasley, Carlos Hernández, Jackson Kowar, Richard Lovelady, Daniel Lynch, Mike Mayers, Collin Snider, Josh Staumont, Josh Taylor, Nick Wittgren, Angel Zerpa

Depending on how the Royals use Keller and Yarbrough to begin the season, it's possible that a couple of the starters in this group — Bubic, Castillo, Heasley, Hernández, Kowar, Lynch and Zerpa — could win rotation spots. Clarke and Cuas pitched rather capably out of the big league bullpen last year but will have to pitch well this spring to fend off a flurry of talented young arms and a trio of offseason additions — Mayers, Taylor and Wittgren — who had major league success in the not-too-distant past. Staumont, who hasn't been optioned to the minors since 2019 but still has one option remaining, will have to prove that he's back on track after posting a career-worst 6.45 ERA last season.


Jonathan Bowlan, Austin Cox, Yefri Del Rosario, Brooks Kriske, Alec Marsh, Andres Nuñez, Ryan Weiss

Bowlan hasn't reached Triple-A yet, but he remains one of the most intriguing pitching prospects in the organization. He returned from Tommy John surgery late in the 2022 season, and this spring he'll show what he can do following a normal offseason.



MJ Melendez, Salvador Perez

It should be interesting to see how much work Melendez, who appears destined to be a near-everyday starter at one of the corner outfield spots, gets behind the plate this season. It's quite possible that the Royals will carry three catchers, as they did for a large chunk of 2022.


Freddy Fermin, Logan Porter

Fermin, who was added to the 40-man roster this offseason and earned MVP and Rookie of the Year honors in the Venezuelan winter league, is the favorite to be the third catcher if Kansas City carries one. Porter, a catcher who can play both corner infield spots, is a long shot but hit .301/.442/.476 in the minors last year and seems like the type of player who could force his way onto the Opening Day roster with a torrid spring.


Tyler Cropley, Jakson Reetz, Luca Tresh

Reetz, who played in two big league games with the Nationals in 2021, should see a lot of playing time in Omaha this year.



Hunter Dozier, Nicky Lopez, Michael Massey, Vinnie Pasquantino, Bobby Witt Jr.

The Royals are likely to start second-year players at three of the four infield positions in 2023, though Lopez has at least a slim chance to retake the second base job if he vastly outperforms Massey this spring. Dozier is the early favorite to start at the hot corner, though he'll have to provide reason to believe he's better than the .226/.289/.391 slash line he's posted over the last two seasons.


Johan Camargo, Matt Duffy, Maikel Garcia, Nick Pratto

Pratto has a good shot to begin the season as Kansas City's starting first baseman but will need to show this spring that he's improved his plate discipline. Camargo and Duffy, both of whom have substantial big league experience, will be in camp as non-roster invitees and will battle for bench spots. Picollo said on MLB Network last month that the Royals want to see Witt Jr. play shortstop "as much as possible" in 2023, but Garcia could provide a glove-first alternative off the bench.


Clay Dungan, Ryan Goins, Nick Loftin, Samad Taylor, Tyler Tolbert

Loftin, the Royals' second first-round pick in 2020, and Taylor, who was acquired in last summer's Whit Merrifield trade, could impact the major league club at some point later this year if they're able to get in a groove offensively in Omaha.



Edward Olivares

Olivares is the only full-fledged outfielder on the 40-man roster who wasn't sent to the minors (aside from a pair of rehab assignments) in 2022. He does have a minor league option remaining, but after a strong offensive season, he's a safe bet to be on the major league roster again this year.


Matt Beaty, Nate Eaton, Brewer Hicklen, Kyle Isbel, Drew Waters

Eaton, Isbel and Waters are heavy favorites to be on the Opening Day roster but still will need to perform well this spring in order to solidify their spots. Eaton could factor into the competition at third base as well. Beaty, who had a .758 OPS over three seasons with the Dodgers before going 4 for 43 with the Padres last year and can play the corner infield and outfield spots, has an outside shot at a bench role. Hicklen, who had an incredible 30-double, 28-homer, 35-steal season in Triple-A last year and also played in six major league games, is somewhat buried on the depth chart, but he could have a shot at more big league action in 2023 if he cuts down on his strikeouts.


Dairon Blanco, Tyler Gentry, Diego Hernandez, John Rave

Gentry will have to prove himself at the minors' highest level, but if he hits as well as he did last year (.326/.422/.542 slash line between High-A and Double-A), he has a serious chance to reach the big leagues at some point in 2023.