Livingston’s Frank Schwindel had monster season for Royals’ affiliates

By Bob Behre

 

If you wanted to pick apart Frank Schwindel’s remarkable 2017 summer that started with the Kansas City Royals’ Double-A affiliate Northwest Arkansas and ended with Triple-A Omaha, you’d say he didn’t draw enough walks.

But when you amass 66 extra-base hits, one can see there wasn’t much room for walks for the Livingston (NJ) High School grad.

The 6-1, 205-pound Schwindel slashed 43 doubles and ripped 23 home runs to produce 97 RBI in 133 minor league games, 99 of which were played with the Omaha Storm Chasers in the rugged Pacific Coast League. Schwindel’s games were almost evenly split between first base and DH and his experience at first base was sterling as he committed just two errors in 66 games.

The obvious next question would be, what would it take for Schwindel to ascend the final rung up the professional ladder in what has been a five-year minor league tour since the Royals drafted him in the 18th round out of St. John’s University in 2013?

Blocking the 25 year-old Schwindel at first base with the big club is superstar Eric Hosmer, who is coming off a 2017 season in which he batted .318 with 25 home runs and 94 RBI. Hosmer, 28, is a free agent who the Royals would prefer to sign but that may be tough considering general manager Dayton Moore is calling for a $120 million payroll ceiling. That’s a $25 million cut from the team’s high water mark of $145 million in 2017. Whether Hosmer stays or goes, Schwindel could still find his way to the major league roster, considering the salary purge underway in Kansas City.

What Schwindel did at the plate in Omaha and Arkansas certainly merits a trip up the ladder this spring, especially if all goes well in spring training. The 2010 Second Team All-State catcher at Livingston put some staggering numbers together this summer. He batted .329 with 177 hits, reached base at a .349 pace and slugged at a .541 clip to post an impressive .890 OPS. Sure, he drew just 16 walks and struck out 85 times, a number that doesn’t set off any alarms in today’s game.

Schwindel’s numbers at Triple-A Omaha really didn’t experience a drop off from his Double-A stat line. He batted . 321 with 126 hits, 30 doubles, 17 home runs and 72 RBI. He also had a .321 on-base percentage, slugged at .528 and posted a .868 OPS over his final 99 games of the seasons for the Storm Chasers. Would anyone be surprised to see Schwindel making noise at the Royals’ Kauffmann Stadium in 2018?