ANAHEIM — Part of why Bobby Witt Jr. was ranked by MLB Pipeline as the game’s top prospect heading into 2022 is his 70-grade power tool. That was on full display on Tuesday night at Angel Stadium, as Witt delivered his first career multihomer game.
Witt went yard in both the first and ninth innings as part of a three-hit, four-RBI night, to help the Royals win the second game of their series vs. the Angels, 12-11, in 11 innings. The 22-year-old phenom now has 10 homers 2 1/2 months into his first Major League season.
“I think it’s pretty cool,” Witt said of his milestones. “But I’m always looking forward to the next ones to come. I’m just glad that they were able to help the team.”
Sure enough, the Royals needed all the offense they could muster in Tuesday’s wild contest that saw the Angels tie things up twice late and come within a run of doing so again in the bottom of the 11th. And Witt wasn’t the only player to homer twice, as two-way star Shohei Ohtani hit a pair of three-run blasts for Los Angeles.
“I was just trying to put good swings on the ball, pick out good pitches and let the rest happen,” said Witt.
Witt showed the benefits of that approach early, working a 10-pitch at-bat against Angels starter Reid Detmers before ultimately winning the battle by driving a 95.5 mph fastball over the right-center-field wall, his first opposite-field shot in the Majors.
It could very well have been a four-hit night for Witt, who was robbed of extra bases in the third on an impressive diving grab by Angels left fielder Brandon Marsh. So his next time up, Witt went the other way, hitting a fly ball that split the gap in right-center to double in Andrew Benintendi.
In the top of the ninth, Angels right-hander Jimmy Herget hung a 2-2 sinker that Witt barrelled up and went the opposite way yet again, this time with a two-run home run. Witt didn’t get the chance to go for a third homer, though, as the Angels took the bat out of his hands by intentionally walking him in the top of the 11th.
Witt, the Royals’ first-round Draft pick in 2019, hit 33 homers in the Minors last year between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha. His effort on Tuesday improved his OPS on the season from .706 — just around league average — to .746. And while there’s still a ways to go for Witt, Tuesday offered a glimpse of the rookie infielder’s superstar potential.
“I’m not surprised,” said manager Mike Matheny. “He’s been really good. Really good. But there’s more. … He’s got legit power to the center of the field and the opposite way. So I think it’s just he’s starting to feel his rhythm.”
After the game, the energy was palpable in a raucous Royals clubhouse, with the soundtrack provided by none other than Witt’s own personal boombox.
“It’s one of the most fun games I’ve ever been a part of,” said Witt. “Just top to bottom, there was just a lot of energy going on. … It’s a blast.”