Two-thirds of the KC Royals outfield is set with Alex Gordon in left field and Lorenzo Cain in center (though the Royals have talked about LoCain playing some right field, presumably to save his legs). That leaves right field, and it is a WIDE open competition this spring with nine players vying for that starting job (and possible two bench spots). With LoCain getting some work in right field, there will need to be another outfielder who can also play center field. Of the nine outfielders vying for a roster spot, seven have played center (six can play all three outfield spots).
*Jarrod Dyson: He has been with the Royals in the big leagues since 2010, but has yet to become an every day player. The most games he has played was 120 back in 2014. Before re-signing Gordon, manager Ned Yost talked about giving the left field job to Dyson. He has speed (146 career stolen bases) and plays a decent outfield. Dyson is a career .255 Major League hitter (in 1066 at-bats) with 34 doubles and 21 triples. While he is best known for his mouth, now is the time for him to start leading with his play.
Check out the following articles on Dyson:
From 50th round to World Series champ… Kansas City Star
*Paulo Orlando: While I have been a fan of Paulo’s for years and he has hit .275 in his minor league career (signed back in 2006), he finally won an Opening Day roster spot in 2015 (because he both earned it and then Alex Rios got hurt). He made history in April by becoming the first player in Major League history to hit five triples in his first seven games (he hit six total in 2015). Orlando will be battling once again for a roster spot.
Check out the giant back tattoo Orlando got right before leaving Brazil for Arizona.
*Travis Snider: The Royals signed Snider to a minor league contract and he could find himself making the roster if he can regain his 2014 form. The former Toronto prospect had a career year in 2014 with Pittsburgh, hitting .264 with 15 doubles, 13 home runs, and a .338 on-base percentage. Snider has always hit well in the minors (.309 in 520 games), but it has yet to translate to the big leagues.
As much as I like the following players, they had great years in 2015 and didn’t even get a sniff of the big leagues. Even with the Royals having a huge divisional lead in September.
*Brett Eibner: He had an impressive showing last spring and was one of the final cuts. He then went to Triple-A Omaha and hit .303 in 103 games with 23 doubles, 19 home runs, and 81 RBIs. Eibner even cut down on his strikeouts: 79 in 389 at-bats compared to 38 walks. While he mostly played center in Omaha (six assists in 53 games), Eibner did play 34 games in right field (and 15 in left).
*Jose Martinez: He won the Pacific Coast League batting title by hitting a record .384 in 98 games with 25 doubles, ten homers, and 60 RBIs. He walked 48 times compared to 55 strikeouts. Martinez followed that up with a strong winter ball season in Venezuela and earned MVP honors in the Caribbean Series earlier this month. Martinez played 28 games in right field for Omaha (27 games in left with four assists and 22 games at first base).
*Reymond Fuentes: He was just another cog in the star-studded Storm Chasers outfield, hitting .308 with ten doubles, four triples, and nine home runs. He had a .360 OBP and stole 29 bases (caught six times). Fuentes followed that up by winning the Clemente League batting title (.326) in Puerto Rico. He mostly played center field (53 games) last year or left field (47 games), but did play three games in right.
The long shots:
*Jorge Bonifacio: Right field is his natural position and the power finally showed up in 2015 in his second full season in Double-A (17 home runs, but just three in the second half of the season). However, Bonifacio only hit .240 with 126 strikeouts in 125 games. While in his career he has 40 assists in right field with 11 double plays, he also has 24 errors (he made four errors in 2015 in 97 games with three assists).
*Whit Merrifield: While the Royals roster sheet lists Merrifield as an infielder, he plays ALL over the diamond (he has even pitched). In 2015, he played every position but pitcher and catcher (39 games in left field, one in center, nine in right, 15 at third base, 57 at second base, 14 at first, and four at shortstop). Merrifield can also hit, as he hit .265 (.317 OBP) with 29 doubles, five triples, five homers, 83 runs scored, and 38 RBIs last season. He showed off his speed in Omaha, stealing 32 of 41 bases (fourth in the PCL).
My pick: Orlando