Former Kansas City Royals second baseman and 1985 World Series champion Greg Pryor has noticed the young Royals starting to mature this season.
Pryor played for the Royals from 1982-86, and in that time he contributed to four winning seasons (90-72 in ‘82, 79-83 in ‘83, 84-78 in ‘84, 91-71 in ‘85).
Pryor said this current Royals team has a good chance to contend in the near future.
“It’s fun. I know it’s not fun to be these many games under .500, but I give the Royals credit for doing things to change,” Pryor said. “And hopefully that change is a positive change.”
The Royals recently traded Andrew Benintendi to the New York Yankees and Whit Merrifield to the Toronto Blue Jays for five prospects, and Pryor said those were not easy moves for an organization to make.
“They (Royals) have tried to keep players here like Alex Gordon, and they have signed Salvy (Salvador Perez) and Whit Merrifield,” Pryor said. “They have tried to keep what they thought were key parts of a team that was going to turn into a winner and unfortunately in baseball, you need more than one all-star to be an above-.500 team.
“They’ve got a young all-star in my opinion, one of the best talents I’ve seen come across baseball in a long time in Bobby Witt Jr.”
Pryor said the Royals have tried to replace the other players with young talent that has been somewhat proven in the minor leagues. But time will tell.
“It’s just going to take a little bit of time now for the younger players on the Royals to blend together like the 2014 and 2015 teams did with (Mike) Moustakas and (Eric) Hosmer and the rest of them,” Pryor said.
Pryor said when you’re on a team that is losing three out of four games in a series, you have to get some kind of mix in order to find answers.
Pryor said that he wished the Royals had a consistent starter at third base.
“Because I enjoy watching the infield play when I go to games,” he said. “And it seems like every game that I go to in the past few weeks we have had a different third baseman.”
He thinks highly of the Royals young middle infielders Witt Jr., Nicky Lopez and recent call-up Michael Massey.
“They moved Lopez to short, and he kind of proved that he’s the best shortstop we have,” Pryor said. “With Massey coming up and playing second, you got Lopez at short and Witt at third. I think those three should play those positions the rest of the season.
“I think with the right mix that they could be in the playoffs next year. A lot of people would laugh at that, but I’m looking at everything combined. All they need is a little bit more power and health, and they can compete.”
Pryor said he didn’t really like the Royals that much as an opposing player.
“Not that I was trying to fight them, I just didn’t like their attitude,” Pryor said. “They were a pretty cocky group of guys.
"When I came here in 1982 to a team that I really didn’t like, Amos Otis walked up to me and said, 'hey Pryor, it’s different over here. We’re expected to win.' ”
Those were the only words Pryor needed to hear.
“Because when you’re around players who know how to play the game, you want to add to the value,” Pryor said. “In baseball you can be the nicest guy in the world, but unless you show that you belong on the field with better players, you’re not accepted in the clubhouse like you want to be.”
According to Pryor, Royals teams in the late 1970s spoiled fans with great baseball.
“Sometimes when you see perfection, you just don’t appreciate it,” he said.
The Royals' playoff teams from the mid-1970s to mid-1980s certainly had their share of disappointments.
“They had a thick skin of pain and of suffering playoff losses that I was brought into when I got traded here,” Pryor said. “So, in ‘84 when we came close again (losing to Detroit), it was like a carryover. We went into the ‘85 World Series knowing that we we’re a darn good team.”
He gives much of the credit to General Manager John Schuerholz for assembling the 1985 World Series championship roster.
“Getting Lonnie Smith into the fold, and calling up Bret Saberhagen and Mark Gubicza and Danny Jackson,” Pryor said. “That band of veterans on that team and the young pitching was all that we needed.”
Today Pryor is a co-owner along with his wife of Life Priority Nutrition in Kansas City.
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