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BASEBALL

Five Omaha Storm Chasers called up after Royals place 10 on restricted list

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Sunday night outside the Omaha Storm Chasers' clubhouse, Nick Pratto talked about what it would be like to return to Los Angeles to play in this weekend's MLB Futures Game.

Four days later, the 23-year-old was in Kansas City's starting lineup at first base, making his major league debut.

Pratto was one of five Storm Chasers promoted to the big league club after Kansas City put 10 current Royals on the restricted list before the team's four-game series at Toronto, where travel restrictions prevented unvaccinated athletes from entering Canada.

The Royals will be without hitters Andrew Benintendi, Hunter Dozier, Cam Gallagher, Kyle Isbel, MJ Melendez, Whit Merrifield and Michael A. Taylor along with pitchers Dylan Coleman, Brad Keller and Brady Singer.

The Royals indicated Thursday that they expect to add up to two more players to their roster over the course of the series.

Other Chasers who were promoted were outfielders Brewer Hicklen and Nate Eaton, second baseman Michael Massey and catcher Freddy Fermin. It will be the major league debut for all five Chasers except Hicklen, who was called up for four days in late May and had two at-bats.

Royals Rangers Spring Baseball

Nick Pratto was one of five Storm Chasers promoted to the big league club after Kansas City put 10 current Royals on the restricted list before the team's four-game series at Toronto, where travel restrictions prevented unvaccinated athletes from entering Canada.

Pratto played in the Futures Game last summer along with teammate Bobby Witt Jr. Witt now leads the Royals in home runs and RBIs this season.

This year's Futures Game, a showcase for baseball's top prospects, will be at Dodger Stadium. Pratto is from Huntington Beach, a suburb on the south end of Los Angeles.

"My dad and I grew up Dodger fans," Pratto said Sunday. "My uncle and grandfather are big Dodger fans. (Growing up), probably went to more Angels games because it was closer." 

Kansas City took Pratto out of high school with the 14th overall pick in the 2017 draft. Pratto is coming off a breakout 2021 season, when he hit 36 homers with 98 RBIs between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Omaha.

Pratto had spent the entire 2022 season in Omaha, hitting .240 with 17 homers and 47 RBIs. That included four homers during last week's six-game home series against Toledo.

"It's kind of a buildup of all the things I've been working on," Pratto said. "It's kind of rewarding to see all the work I've been putting in pay off. Obviously, it's good to see results."​

Now Pratto's reward is a chance to play in the majors.

Every player in Kansas City's lineup Thursday, with one exception, has played for Omaha during the past 12 months. The exception is former Creighton infielder Nicky Lopez, who last played for the Chasers in 2019.

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