Rookie awed by KC, Royals fans after standing O: ‘I haven’t felt anything like that’

Reed Hoffmann/AP
·3 min read

Kansas City Royals designated hitter Vinnie Pasquantino was not expecting this.

When he stepped to the plate during the second inning of his major-league debut on Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium, he received more than a rousing round of applause.

The 19,593 in attendance also rose to their feet to welcome him with a standing ovation.

Pasquantino became emotional when talking about that moment in the clubhouse following the Royals’ 8-3 defeat to the Texas Rangers.

“Obviously, from a personal side, it was a pretty monumental night for me,” Pasquantino said. “I’m really humbled by the city of Kansas City and the reaction of my first at-bat ... I haven’t felt anything like that pretty much my entire life.”

Pasquantino, who was called up to the Royals from Triple-A Omaha on Monday, soaked in more memories when looking around the stadium.

He said he saw a fan wave an Italian flag in the stands — a nod to his family’s heritage. He also spotted another sign that read, “It’s Pasquantino Time.”

“From a personal side, that’s a pretty cool thing,” Pasquantino said. “It’s nice to have support, and obviously, you want to play better.”

Nothing, though, compared to the moment just before he stepped into a major-league batter’s box for the first time and noticed everyone rising to their feet.

“Things like that are typically reserved for the Bobby Witts of the world, not for the Vinnie Pasquantinos of the world,” Pasquantino said. “So I’m very grateful for that. And I hope to earn the support of the fans now. They’ve kind of seen from afar what I think I’m capable of and what they think I’m capable of, but now I want to do it in front of them.”

In his first at-bat, Pasquantino grounded into a double play on his first pitch, hitting a 106-mph chopper to Texas’ Marcus Semien at second.

After that, Pasquantino grounded out to short, popped out to center, then flew out to left and finished 0 for 4.

“My goal is to give it a chance every single time I hit,” Pasquantino said, “and I felt like as the night went on, I did a better job of settling down and just trying to have normal at-bats.”

Pasquantino’s arrival — he ranks as a top-100 prospect at both FanGraphs and MLB Pipeline — drew a literal crowd Tuesday night. The Royals sold roughly 3,500 walk-up tickets, which the team reported as about twice their usual amount.

The 24-year-old Pasquantino said he was happy for the quick turn-around ahead. The Royals play again Wednesday afternoon, and more than likely, he’ll be in the lineup while in search of his first MLB hit.

And also team victory.

“I knocked off a few things off my selfish bucket list tonight — to play in a major-league game. Yesterday, I was at a game. Today, I played in one. Tomorrow I’d like to get my first win as a player. That’ll be the coolest feeling for me. Maybe get on base once or twice or do something productive to help the team,” Pasquantino said with a smile. “So that’s my goal going into tomorrow.”