KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas national basketball team, Kansas champions, Kansas City mayor and the tallest player in Royals history crammed into a third-base line suite at the Kauffman Stadium on Thursday – there for the opening day, but also because they wanted to watch a specific player.
“Everyone,” Hall of Famer George Brett said, “wants to see the kid.”
The kid is Bobby Witt Jr., baseball’s hottest prospect, and the local who saw his debut that ended in storybook fashion. Witt’s first major league hit was a brace in the eighth inning, propelling the Royals to a 3-1 win over the Cleveland Guardians.
Witt, 21, sporting a mustache his teammates call “unlucky,” a mullet he’s proud of and the weight of the stick in the No. 2 hole in his first major league game, received a thunderous ovation before his first at bat and approached the plate for his last with chants of “Bob-by, Bob-by” echoing through the stadium. With two outs and Michael A. Taylor at second base, Witt fired a second pitch slider from Triston McKenzie into the left field corner for his first RBI and Kansas City’s first lead.
“I thought I would be a lot more nervous, honestly,” Witt said. “But before, introductions, nothing. During the game, nothing. First at bat, nothing. So when is that going to happen? It was great. It was just fine.”
The son of a longtime major league pitcher, Witt was picked by the Royals with the second overall pick in the 2019 draft. he destroyed the pitch at Double A and Triple A last season, combining for 33 home runs and stealing 29 bases with a .290/.361/.576 double.
With Adalberto Mondesi penciled at shortstop, Witt pivoted to third base this spring with the goal of earning a major league spot. He hit .406/.441/.781 with three homers in Arizona, locking down the work easily and showing the kind of raw talent that has Brett, himself a former third baseman, saying, “The hype is deserved. I don’t see anything he can’t do.”
Witt worked his way around the diamond to get his first hit. He flew to right field, ran aground at second base and ran aground at shortstop before getting to McKenzie, who had mowed down Kansas City hitters similar to Guardians starter Shane Bieber . A brave effort from Zack Greinke kept Kansas City in the game to set up Witt’s exploits.
“I wasn’t worried at all,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “Excited, to be honest. He was one of the ones you could imagine sitting here having a conversation like this. Like, ‘OK, this is how it’s supposed to be.’
“Having his name sung on his first day in the major leagues is pretty cool. »
For more than a year, Royals fans anticipating the transition from rebuilding to winning have been waiting for Witt to arrive – along with first baseman Nick Pratto and wide receiver MJ Melendez, who started the year at Triple A. Witt’s debut is the start of that. , and from basketball team KU to coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs, those who came to see him did not leave disappointed.
“It was a dream come true, really,” Witt said. “And it was the day I’ve been waiting for my whole life. Now it’s here, and I want to keep doing it.”