Carter Jensen savors new opportunity in Kansas City Royals camp | Before the Crown

The Kansas City Royals have several prospects developing in their minor-league system. This year, The Star will highlight the next crop of talented players.

In a new series, “Before the Crown,” we will focus on Royals prospects on their journey to the big leagues.

This week, we spotlight Royals prospect Carter Jensen...

A rising star

Carter Jensen is living in the moment. At 20 years old, Jensen is in his first major-league camp and rubbing shoulders with Royals legends.

It’s an opportunity that he once could only dream about.

“It’s real experience,” Jensen said. “It’s one of those things I have been looking forward to. It’s something I have been working for in the offseason and during the season in my time in pro ball. Just to make it here: to begin the season with my hometown team where I grew up watching, coming out here to Surprise, Arizona, and watching games in the stands.

“To be on the field now, it’s a surreal experience that I’m super excited and grateful for.”

The Royals invited eight catchers to spring training. The group included five players with MLB experience: team captain Salvador Perez, Freddy Fermin, Tyler Cropley, Logan Porter and Sandy Leon.

KC also invited three young prospects to camp. Jensen headlined the group alongside Luca Tresh and Rodolfo Duran.

Jensen was an intriguing selection. The Kansas City native was selected in the third round of the 2021 MLB Draft. Three years ago, Jensen was still a promising backstop at Park Hill High School.

The KC Star’s “Before the Crown” series takes a closer look at young players and prospects in the Kansas City Royals organization.
The KC Star’s “Before the Crown” series takes a closer look at young players and prospects in the Kansas City Royals organization.

Now, he was the youngest player in Royals camp. Jensen will not turn 21 until early July. However, his age hasn’t stopped him from ascending in the Royals’ system.

“I knew he was young, but then to see he is only 20 is really interesting to be in this setting,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “Obviously, the organization thinks highly of him and hopefully what he can take from it is just learning what the day-to-day looks like from those guys and not put too much pressure on himself. When he does get opportunities to go out there and perform, just leave it all out there.”

Honing the Craft

Last season, Jensen played in 116 games with High-A Quad Cities. He hit .211 with 11 home runs and 45 RBIs. He added 20 doubles, 11 stolen bases and produced a .363 slugging percentage.

The Royals rave about his power potential. Jensen has hit 23 home runs across three minor-league levels. He also showed improved plate discipline after drawing 92 walks in 497 plate appearances last season.

“When it comes to hitting, (I want) to be more aggressive this year,” Jensen said. “Trust my ability to hit. I know I can hit and the coaches know I can hit. I just need to be able to trust myself in the game.”

Jensen has shown some aggressive swings this spring. Early in camp, he caught the attention of Royals coaches by hitting a home run off reliever Will Klein in live batting practice. He turned on a mid-90s fastball and sent it over the right-field wall.

However, Jensen knows his offense will only take him so far. His real goal is to become a more well-rounded catcher.

“Really just honing my skills behind the plate,” Jensen said. “(I) can always get better and can always find different ways to help the pitchers steal strikes, blocking and throwing runners out. Just really honing in and learning a lot of things behind the plate. Continue to improve there.”

Next in line

Jensen will get a look in spring training games. The Royals face the Texas Rangers on Friday afternoon in Cactus League play. It’s a chance for Jensen to get valuable playing time against MLB players.

This season, Jensen is expected to continue his minor-league journey. He spent the 2023 campaign in High-A. It’s possible he could elevate to Double-A Northwest Arkansas with a strong camp.

The Royals also have 2023 first-round pick Blake Mitchell in their system. Mitchell, 19, is also a catcher that was drafted out of high school. He spent time in rookie ball and is set to continue climbing the organizational ranks.

KC will rely on Perez and Fermin as their primary catchers this season. Both Jensen and Mitchell represent the future at the position.

For now, Jensen is excited to keep learning at every turn. And his Royals teammates are eager to help.

“I kind of want to take him under my wing and show him which way is the right way,” Porter said. “Which way should you go? Being early and being prepared. He is a young kid. I know when I was that age, I wanted someone to help me. And that’s why I hope to help him along his journey.”