The Kansas City Royals safeguarded outfielder Tyler Gentry, ranked as their No. 8 prospect, and right-hander Will Klein, their No. 25 prospect, in advance of Tuesday’s deadline for adding eligible players to the 40-man roster.
Concurrently, the Royals designated reliever Josh Staumont and catcher Logan Porter for assignment.
Among the prospects left unprotected by the Royals, potentially exposing them to the Rule 5 Draft at the Winter Meetings next month, is former first-rounder Asa Lacy. Lacy, who inked a $6.667 million signing bonus with the Royals after being selected No. 4 overall from Texas A&M in 2020, has encountered a professional career marked by injuries and setbacks. The 24-year-old has not pitched for an affiliate since 2022, spending the past season engaged in side sessions at the Royals’ complex in Arizona due to back injuries that disrupted his spring.
In 2022, when Lacy did take the mound, he allowed 37 runs (33 earned) in 28 innings, issued 42 walks, and hit 13 batters. Although he displayed glimpses of the talent that led to his high draft selection — featuring an upper-90s fastball and formidable breaking pitches — he grappled with command issues.
It appears improbable that a team will select Lacy in the Rule 5 Draft, given his physical uncertainties and the roster restrictions associated with the Rule 5 process. Teams are required to pay $100,000 to select a player in the Rule 5 Draft, and the selected player must remain on the 26-man roster (or the injured list) throughout the year; removal from the roster subjects the player to waivers and obliges the team to offer him back to his original club for $50,000. Players must be active for a minimum of 90 days to escape these restrictions in the following season.
Gentry and Klein, both from the Royals’ 2020 Draft class and selected in the third and fifth rounds, respectively, featured prominently in the Triple-A and Double-A circuits. Gentry, 24, spent the entire 2023 season at Triple-A Omaha, compiling a slash line of .253/.370/.421 with 16 home runs and 28 doubles. He is expected to contend for a corner outfield spot during Spring Training, providing substantial power as long as he maintains control at the plate.
Klein, 23, made 49 appearances between Double-A and Triple-A in the past season, representing the Royals in the 2023 Futures Game. Despite encountering challenges in Omaha towards the end of the season, Klein, a formidable presence at 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, will vie for a bullpen spot in the big league come spring. He boasts an average fastball velocity of around 97 mph, complemented by above-average breaking pitches and a low-90s changeup.
Another noteworthy name preceding the Rule 5 Draft is Tyler Tolbert, a former middle infielder turned center fielder, who gained attention for going 60-for-60 on stolen-base attempts in 2022. In the 2023 season, Tolbert stole 50 bases, hit 10 home runs, and achieved a .755 OPS in Double-A, earning him the title of the Royals’ George Brett Hitter of the Year. Tolbert’s speed and center field proficiency make him a potential selection for teams in need.
As the Royals approach Friday’s tender deadline, their 40-man roster remains at capacity. Staumont, in his second year of arbitration, was a candidate for non-tender; the 29-year-old, who threw only 20 innings in the past season, is currently rehabilitating from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery.
Porter, making his debut in 2023 due to injuries to catchers Salvador Perez and Freddy Fermin, holds an inspiring narrative. The 28-year-old ascended to the Majors after initially serving as a clubhouse attendant for the Royals’ Rookie-level affiliate in Surprise, Ariz.