Grading J.J. Picollo and the Kansas City Royals front office at the season’s midway point

Nov 3, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Royals general manager J.J. Picollo talks with media during a press conference at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 3, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Royals general manager J.J. Picollo talks with media during a press conference at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /
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Maikel Garcia. Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Maikel Garcia. Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Farm system

The Royals perfectly fit the profile of a team that would be expected to be building from its home-grown talent. In his first year on the job, Picollo promoted touted prospects of the stripe of Bobby Witt Jr., M.J. Melendez and Vinny Pasquantino.

Halfway through the season, the Royals rookie Class of 2023 is less glamorous, although its four members have for the most part accomplished their generally small tasks with efficiency. The irony is that the stars of the Class of 2022, notably Melendez and Pasquantino, have gone into full sophomore slump mode.

The star of the group is probably third baseman Maikel Garcia (+0.5). Inheriting the corner infield spot when Hunter Dozier failed to deliver, Garcia is batting .267, although his power stroke is not yet up to the level generally desired of big league third basemen.

Freddie Fermin (+0.2) is the Royals’ backup to All-Star catcher Salvador Perez. That sounds like light work, but since Perez is 33, there could be a future in it. Fermin is hitting .260 and delivering satisfactory defensive stats.

Since his callup in May, left hander Austin Cox (+0.5) has fit nicely into the team’s bullpen. He’s covered 16 innings with a 2.25 ERA.