While a myriad of potential future stars are getting their time in the press down in Class-A baseball, there's a first baseman in Lexington, KY, who is quietly going about his business of producing runs and anchoring an offense.
Selected in the 8th round of the 2016 MLB Draft out of the University of New Mexico, Kansas City Royals prospect Chris Devito has been driving in runs steadily since the beginning of the season. Over 23 games, Devito has driven in 28 runs, scored 18, and mixed in 13 XBH in the process. He's got a slash of .330/.364/.626 at this point, giving him an OPS of .990.
Devito has been making consistent, hard contact, and putting most of those hits in the air (0.63 ground-ball/fly-ball ratio). This, coupled with a power tool that is above-average-to-plus, will lead to a slew of homers as the year progresses.
Two concerns, here: he does not appear quick or agile at first base, and while he has significant power his hand speed leaves something to be desired. These are both things which can be improved, so at the moment I'm not terribly concerned about that.
Devito is solidly built, to be sure, and at 6'2”, 220, he looks the part of the classic first base slugger. Defensively, he certainly has made the plays at first base that he should be making, so far, and appears to be comfortable there. He has catching experience, but I wouldn't expect him to move behind the dish as a pro.
His splits look unremarkable, save that he has a .360 BA at Whitaker Bank Ballpark (.293 on the road), a place not exactly known as a hitter's park. It's too early to draw any real conclusions from this, but I suppose it could simply be the “home field” boost on which some athletes thrive.
Getting reps in the cage and focusing on flexibility and footwork could turn Devito into a true diamond-in-the-rough for Kansas City. He is certainly one to watch as the season progresses. As it looks now, I expect Devito to challenge for a Sally League All-Star appearance and easily top the 20 HR-85 RBI mark over a full season in A-ball.