Kansas City Royals minor league third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez is hammering on the door to the majors.
Amongst the myriad of issues facing the Kansas City Royals in the early part of the 2019 season, third base has not been a problem. Hunter Dozier is finally starting to look like the player that the Royals had hoped for, driving the ball with consistency and authority. It may have taken six years, but Dozier looks like a piece of the future core in Kansas City.
Yet, his position is not safe. Third base prospect Kelvin Gutierrez is hammering pitching in the Pacific Coast League this season, having posted a .410/.511/.590 batting line with two homers in his 47 plate appearances heading into Wednesday.
Considered the Royals 14th best prospect by MLB.com, Guiterrez came to the Royals as part of the deal that sent Kelvin Herrera to Washington. Gutierrez had been for his ability to make contact and spray the ball to all parts of the field, although he had not displayed much power due to his approach at the plate.
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The Royals, meanwhile, felt that a change in approach would tap into the power that Gutierrez possesses. That may prove to be the case, as he has hit eight homers in his 311 plate appearances in the Royals organization, after hitting only 13 homers in his previous 1849 plate appearances. Should this power gain last, he could move up the Royals prospect list.
At this point, there may not be much room for Gutierrez in the lineup. Dozier has been hitting well of late, and Ryan O’Hearn had an excellent showing at the end of the 2018 season. Jorge Soler has been predominantly at DH, although that can change if the Royals stop putting Chris Owings in the lineup, allowing Whit Merrifield to return to second.
At this point, getting Gutierrez regular at bats is the most important part of his development. That will happen in Omaha, instead of having him on the bench in Kansas City. However, if either Owings or Lucas Duda are sent packing, and a spot in the lineup opens up, Gutierrez may be the first person in line for a callup to the majors.
Kevin Gutierrez is knocking on the door of the majors. The Kansas City Royals may have their hands forced when it comes to finding a spot in the lineup.