Royals’ McBroom recalls wild long ball
The box score of Tuesday night’s game between Omaha and Toledo preserves a record of Ryan McBroom’s 25th homer of the season. It was the long ball that vaulted him into a four-way tie for the Triple-A lead and extended the gap for the Storm Chasers in a game they’d
The box score of Tuesday night’s game between Omaha and Toledo preserves a record of Ryan McBroom’s 25th homer of the season.
It was the long ball that vaulted him into a four-way tie for the Triple-A lead and extended the gap for the Storm Chasers in a game they’d ultimately win, 9-3, at Werner Park. But baseball provides ample opportunity for oddity. And this three-run shot that triggered an eventual blowout was much stranger than it would appear in a box score.
“I can't even ... it's crazy, man,” McBroom said on the phone Wednesday.
Off the bat, it didn’t feel like a homer. But McBroom, who’s been up and down with the Royals three times this season, connected on a 1-1 pitch about three inches below the endcap. The ball lofted toward the left-field corner while the bat, as McBroom put it, “helicoptered” back toward Toledo catcher Juan Centeno.
“First thought was, 'Oh man, I hope the catcher's alright.' That was just the natural instinct to check on him first,” McBroom recalled. “And then I looked for the ball and saw it was at a good trajectory and saw it was a possible homer -- guaranteed double, possible homer, and I just took off.”
Once the 29-year-old veteran checked that the barrel had made a safe landing and took off for first, he was already around the bag when he saw the ball get over the fence. It was around this point -- about a few feet beyond the base -- that McBroom realized he was still holding the sawed-off handle like a baton in a relay.
“I literally forgot to drop the bat. And then I was like, 'Wow, that got out,’” the Omaha first baseman said. “I was like, 'Oh, shoot. I still got the handle in my hands.' And I was like, 'You know what, I'm just going to carry it around the bases.'
“I didn't think anything of it because I didn't know the ball was getting out, so I was kind of watching it, trying to touch first, and I just forgot to drop the handle.”
That homer was almost immediately overshadowed by the true highlight of the game.
MJ Melendez, the No. 71 overall prospect and fourth-ranked Royal, sailed a big fly to the opposite field to go back-to-back with McBroom. The homer was his 34th of the season across two levels, which, at the time, put him in a tie with Marlins No. 22 prospect Griffin Conine for the overall Minor League lead.
The series between these two teams came with much fanfare as six of MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects could be found on both rosters. Top Royals prospect Bobby Witt Jr., the No. 3 overall prospect, Nick Pratto (No. 69) and Jackson Kowar (No. 89) faced the Tigers’ top two prospects in Spencer Torkelson (No. 4) and Riley Greene (No. 7).
Since the series began, Kowar was called up for his second Major League stint on Wednesday, Torkelson, the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s Draft, recorded his third multi-homer game at his third different level and the trio of Witt, Pratto and Melendez has gone 11-for-27 (.407 batting average) with seven runs scored and five RBIs in three games.
Melendez is now second to Conine -- who hit his 35th homer for Pensacola on Wednesday -- on the overall homer list while Witt and Pratto each have 28 long balls to rank fourth in the Minors. Witt leads the Minors with 60 extra-base hits while Vinnie Pasquantino, the Royals’ No. 18 prospect and a first baseman with Double-A Northwest Arkansas, has 58 to tie for second with Pratto.
Clearly, there’s a lot that can overshadow McBroom in Omaha and the Royals’ system. But for a well-traveled 2014 15th-round Draft pick, it’s been a joy to see the blossoming talent among him.
“Super talented players that are going to play for a long time,” McBroom said. “And it's always nice to give them tips here and there on routines and stuff like that and even learn from them. But they're going to be very special and it's fun to be a part of.”
McBroom was drafted by the Blue Jays out of the West Virginia University before landing with the Yankees in a 2017 trade for Rob Refsnyder. He wound up in Kansas City after being traded for cash on Aug. 31, 2019, and he made his big-league debut three days later.
Since then, he’s batted .268 with a .749 OPS and six homers in 164 total at-bats with the big-league club. He’s always been a strong hitter, but things really took off in the 2018 season, his first in the Yankees organization, in which he hit .302 with an .806 OPS across two levels.
“That's when I really started to get the beginning of the whole preparation phase or how to attack different pitchers,” McBroom said. “We were using iPads and all that type of stuff. I guess when I got there is when I first had that big change, and I just continue that as I'm getting older which has really helped.”
McBroom had an even better year with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2019 before being traded. And he’s clearly still got a lot left in the tank. But no matter where his career goes from here, it’s unlikely -- though, in baseball, not impossible -- that he’ll experience another homer like the one he hit Tuesday night.
Gerard Gilberto is a reporter for MiLB.com.