MJ Melendez leads Royals to win after Nick Pratto optioned

Molly Burkhardt

By Molly Burkhardt

BOSTON — On Aug. 30, Nick Pratto recorded his first career multihomer game in the Royals’ win over the White Sox. The offensive outburst came just days after the rookie snapped an 0-for-21 skid in his second stint with Kansas City after being called up on July 22.

Just over two weeks after he became the third Royals rookie with a multihomer game this season, Pratto was optioned to Triple-A Omaha ahead of Kansas City’s 9-0 win over Boston at Fenway Park on Saturday. Pratto’s demotion was the corresponding move in Edward Olivares’ reinstatement from the injured list.

“Every time we have to make a move like that, there’s a cause and effect,” manager Mike Matheny said. “And you bring back a player like Ollie who’s been a big part of what we were doing early on and taking some of the best at-bats we had. Hate to see him go down a couple of different times, but [you see] how that translates into moving players around and where might some of the playing time be sacrificed.”

Pratto was one of 13 Royals to make their big league debuts this year. The 23-year-old first baseman joined a lineup full of rookies, including Bobby Witt Jr. and MJ Melendez — who combined for five hits, four RBIs and five runs scored in Saturday’s win. Together, they formed a young trio that would hopefully set the stage for exciting seasons to come in Kansas City.

Prior to his option, Pratto had gone hitless in his last four appearances after batting .277 (13-for-47) with eight extra-base hits over his previous 12 games. Pratto joined the big league team batting .240/.374/.484 with 17 homers and 47 RBIs over 74 games with Omaha this season.

It wasn’t the first time Pratto’s offensive numbers took a noticeable dip. After hitting .280 with Class A Lexington in 2018, the first baseman dropped to a .191 clip with Class A Advanced Wilmington in ‘19.

Pratto spent the next season at the Royals’ alternate training site working on avoiding low pitches and focusing on impact. The work paid off in 2021 when he hit .265 across Double-A and Triple-A. With just under two weeks left in Omaha’s season, the hope now is for Pratto to again refocus and regroup, with some added adversity this time.

“[He] just needs at-bats, and [needs] the consistency,” Matheny said. “I know that he believes in himself. We believe in him and that’s part of the conversation. I believe that he’s a championship-caliber player and he needs to go get the opportunities, just keep swinging the bat and learn more about himself. The consistency that will come, normally that comes from one, the repetitions and two, some of the adversity and learning the lessons you need to learn and moving past them.”

Playing in his first game since July 17 after being sidelined with a left quad strain, Olivares made an immediate impact on Saturday. Starting in right field and batting sixth, Olivares went 2-for-4 with a walk and a run scored.

The Royals together tallied 15 hits, with every player in the lineup except veterans Hunter Dozier and Michael A. Taylor recording at least one and six players finishing with a multihit day. Melendez was responsible for four of the Royals’ nine runs, becoming the first catcher in team history to score four runs in a game.

“It was just an attack all day long,” Matheny said. “Whether it was on the bases, guys getting on base, some really good at-bats right from the top with MJ, Bobby and [Salvador Perez]. And it was good to have Edward back. Talk about those dangerous at-bats where something good is gonna happen.

“One of those days it [was] just kind of relentless, and handed off to the next guy. A number of guys with RBIs, Vinnie [Pasquantino] had a really big day. Situational hitting was good. … It was a great offensive day.”

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