It’s been less than six months since the Kansas City Royals drafted infielder Michael Massey. The 21-year-old is already turning a few heads.
With pick No. 109 in this year’s MLB Draft, the Kansas City Royals selected infielder Michael Massey from the University of Illinois. Over the course of his collegiate career, Massey posted a slash line of 0.324/0.367/0.485 while racking up 110 RBI in 159 games. A back injury forced him to serve as Illinois’ designated hitter, but he was eventually able to return to his natural position at second base later in the 2019 season.
Joining the Royals’ rookie affiliate, the Burlington Royals, Massey appeared in 42 games. Hitting 0.272 with 5 home runs and 25 RBI over the course of 173 at-bats, the 21-year-old got off to a slow start but improved a ton down the stretch. Our own Ryan Sikes mentioned Massey’s month of August in his recent column. Improving his batting average to 0.311 in 15 games during that month, Massey showcased an innate ability to get on base that scouts have alluded to as well.
We recently had the chance to ask Michael a few questions. Below are his responses.
Q: Despite a slow start with Burlington, you rebounded and finished the season really strong. What was the key to unlocking that improved play?
A: I think that any time you move to a new level, you have to be open to making adjustments. For me, I didn’t get off to as hot of a start as I would have liked in Burlington but I was lucky enough to have a great hitting coach in Andy LaRoche. Any time you’re able to be around a guy who has the amount of experience that “Rochie” has, you definitely don’t take that for granted.
The first adjustment that we made was tweaking my pre-pitch load. In college, I hit with a relatively big leg kick. However, when I arrived in Burlington we felt that my eyes were moving too much during the pre-pitch, which was causing me to expand my zone and I was oftentimes getting myself out on bad pitches.
The second adjustment that [I] focused on each day in the cage was hitting the inside third of the baseball to create a bat path that was inside the ball, as well as creating backspin. These two adjustments, as well as gaining more experience throughout the season, are what I attribute my second-half improvements to.
Q: Consistent has been a word often used to describe you, even before you were drafted. Do you pride yourself on being a reliable player in all facets of the game?
A: I think the word “consistent” is a fair way to describe my game. Though I can’t predict the future, I think it’s safe to say that I am not going to get to the big leagues by stealing 40 bases a year or hitting 40 homers a year. My style involves more of the all-around game. I depend on my ability to make contact at the plate, make the routine play in the field, and trust my instincts on the basepaths.
I don’t necessarily try to pride myself on living up to a word that describes my game. Instead, I try to understand my strengths and weaknesses as a player and then try to implement those strengths into whatever way best helps the team win.
Q: Are you looking forward to potentially reaching Single-A in 2020, or are you just taking things one step at a time and not looking too far ahead?
A: Moving forward, I am taking things one step at a time. Right now, I am 100 percent focused on my offseason training and trying to make myself the best player possible for whatever team the Kansas City Royals organization decides to place me on.
Q: Any specific goals for the upcoming year?
A: My goal for the upcoming year is very simple. I want to win a championship with whatever team that I am placed on. We were one win away this year from a championship in Burlington and losing that game has made me hungrier than ever to get a ring. I’m a big believer that winning is a habit and just like baseball players like to perfect their swing or defensive skills, why not also perfect the skill of winning?
Q: Is there an area of your game you’ve been focusing on improving lately?
A: At this point in my career, every part of my game needs to be worked on. While I believe that I have a good foundation of baseball skills in all parts of my game, the true art of a professional is his or her ability to continuously find ways to get better and hone their skills. That is exactly what I plan to do this offseason, as well as in the years ahead.
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A special thank you goes out to Kansas City Royals infield prospect Michael Massey (@mmass7219) for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with us. We’re rooting for you. Best of luck out there moving forward!