Mike Moustakas was a high school shortstop and was named California High School Player of the Year in both his Sophmore and Junior seasons. His teammate and left side of the infield counterpart is fellow big leaguer, and first round draft pick Matt Dominguez. He also launched 52 career home runs in high school, a California record, but then again, I launched a home run at Chatsworth, and I was a skinny pitcher who typically wasn’t allowed to hit, so take that record as you will.

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The Tampa Bay Rays do it by getting career years out of castoffs like James Loney.  The Oakland A’s do it with a platoon at nearly every position.

Now the Kansas City Royals will try to be the latest small market club to make a run at the playoffs with an unorthodox roster strategy, of utility and multi-positional players.

Given their roster today, the only player in any likely starting lineup the Royals will throw out there this season that has not played multiple positions in the major leagues is Mike Moustakas.

But even Moustakas has a past that includes him playing other positions. 

When at Chatsworth High School, he played shortstop because current Houston Astros third baseman, Matt Dominguez, played third base on that same high school team.

Pat Venditte – Switch Pitcher Vs Switch Hitter

Emilio Bonifacio has made a career as a utility man, and there is really where his value lies. He has a career batting average of .262, but is a very light hitting guy whose best offensive asset is his speed. He has 131 career RBIs, or seven less than his career stolen base total.

The guy most likely to start the majority of games at second base will be Omar Infante. 

In addition to second base, Infante has seen big league action at third base, shortstop, left field, right field, and center field, so he has the ability to fill in at a couple of spots. 

Backing him up will be another guy that has played all three outfield positions plus second, third and short, Emilio Bonifacio. 

Granted, neither guy brings a big stick, but Infante is a quality bat at the bottom of the lineup, and Bonifacio can fly on the bases.

The starting shortstop is Alcides Escobar.  While every game but five in his career have been solely at short, he has managed to get in time at each of the three outfield spots in those other five games. 

Johnny Giavotella could make the 25 man roster, but that wouldn’t be very Royals of them. 

The other guy battling for the final infield spot is Pedro Ciriaco. This guy has played seven defensive positions in the major leagues.  The only spots he has not played are catcher and pitcher, but there is still time.

Even the guys that hold down first base and DH have played multiple positions. 

Eric Hosmer has seen time in the outfield, and the ultimate defensive liability, Billy Butler has tallied time at two different positions in the field, first base and left. 

Plus, Salvador Perez, the starting catcher, has played a few games at first.  Catcher, Brett Hayes, played a game at short back in short season rookie ball, and has played both corner infield and corner outfield in his career since. 

He has the inside track to get the backup catching gig over Francisco Pena, who is the odd one position guy.

In the outfield, they have four guys that can play all three positions with Jarrod Dyson, Justin Maxwell, Lorenzo Cain, and Norichika Aoki. 

Even starting left fielder Alex Gordon was deemed “the next George Brett” when he came up as a third baseman.

With all that position flexibility, the Royals could be a fun and interesting watch this season, not to mention contenders. 

They have four guys that can steal almost at will, to go along with a handful that have 20+ home run potential.

Possible trade prospect for this glove of all ‘trades’ club

In the spirit of utility guys, the Royals should make a trade with ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte of the New York Yankees.

Venditte has a glove that has been customized to fit on either hand, so he can pitch right handed or left handed, depending on the batter. 

His ability to pitch with either hand led to some comical moments when he faced switch hitters. (Youtube link aforementioned above.)

Venditte would switch hands during an at bat, causing the batter to switch sides of the plate, which would eventually lead to a rule added to Major and Minor League Baseball that a pitcher who can pitch with either hand must announce which arm he will be throwing with prior to an at-bat against a switch hitter, to avoid a delay in the game.

With Kansas City, he would fit right in with the versatile arsenal he possesses.  Surely the Yankees can trade KC him for some young Minor League player under the age of 30?

They even have flexibility in their coaching staff, their first base coach has the ability to be a stand-up comedian, cause introducing himself causes the twelve year old in all of us to giggle a little,“Hi, my name is Rusty Kuntz…”

Trade Scenarios for 2014/Pickups

Other targets the Royals should look at to add to their team are guys like J.T. Snow, he played an excellent defensive first base, and he seems like would be a world class baby sitter after his snag of Dusty Baker’s son at the plate in the 2002 World Series.

J.T. Snow was a career .268 hitter, hit 189 home runs, tallied nearly 900 RBI’s, a career fielding percentage of .995.  Snow won six Gold Gloves in his 16 year career.  Oh, and one saved child.

The club could definitely pull of several late season trades for a player like this. Defensive specialists with a knack for clutch hits are the kind of guys who come through in the playoffs.

With the Royals at the cusp of their salary limit now for next campaign, they are better off to wait until half way through the year to add anyways.  This way a player worth $12 – $15 MIL – is worth only half of that with 3 months left. 

KC has a nice crop of young players in their Minor League system to trade in order to get a player of this kind of ilk. 

2014 has to be a year this club goes for it all.

The seemingly endless utility belt aside, the Royals have a decent pitching staff and an underrated bullpen. They should be in contention for the Wild Card, if not the division all season long.  The Tigers are the clear favorite, and the Indians are still talented, but the Royals could very well be the latest small market, odd roster construction team to make the playoffs, and who knows, maybe even make a run once they get there.

 *** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com ***

For all of the Rosters, Depth Charts, State of the Unions and Salaries Posts that we do, please visit our dedicated page link here.

A big thank-you goes out to Our ‘Guest Royals Writer’ Shaun Kernahan for preparing today’s featured article.

Shaun was born and raised in Southern California, and has been a diehard baseball fan since childhood.  He also follows football, soccer, and hockey, but baseball is his true sports love.

He played through high school before blowing out his shoulder and elbow, then turned to coaching, before finally writing about baseball.

 Shaun also covers other sports on his own website, thestainsports.com here.

.Follow The Shaun Kernahan On Twitter Follow @shaunkernahan

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Tagged: @shaunkernahan on twitter, al central, alcides escobar, alex gordon, billy butler, brett hayes, detroit tigers, emilio bonifacio, eric hosmer, Francisco Pena, george brett, james loney, jarred dyson, justin maxwell, kansas city royals, matt dominguez, Norichika Aoki, pat venditte, pedro ciriaco, salvador perez, shaun kernahan

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