The Kansas City Royals have not put together a winning season since 2015, the year they won the World Series. Their 2018 and 2019 seasons were two of the worst consecutive seasons in franchise history. The good news is, 2020 was an improvement, and the team seemed committed to playing their younger talent.
The Royals have a talented farm system, and they displayed two of their young, talented starting pitching prospects in 2020. The team gave Kris Bubic and Brady Singer nearly a full season of work, and both performed well. It was a great season for both to improve their game while experiencing big-league hitting.
Beyond those two, the Royals also have three more talented starting pitchers on the farm in Asa Lacy, Daniel Lynch, and Jackson Kowar. Even though Bubic and Singer debuted last year, exhausting prospect eligibility, we will still break down all five guys and discuss their potential outlook for Fantasy Baseball. Can the Royals draw an ace from within their deep pool of pitching prospects? Let’s dive in.
Kansas City Royals Young Starting Pitchers
Brady Singer, RHP
Brady Singer was a talented enough prospect in high school to be selected in the second round of the 2015 draft. Instead, Singer spurned the Blue Jays and decided to go to college. After a rough freshman season at the University of Florida, Singer settled in during his sophomore year as a starter. He was dominant in his sophomore and junior seasons, leading the Kansas City Royals to select him 18th overall in the 2018 draft.
In his only minor league season in 2019, Singer pitched to a 2.85 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP in 148 innings. He struck out 138 hitters and walked just 39 that season. The Royals clearly felt he was ready as they promoted him to make his Major League debut in the second game of the 2020 season. Singer looked great in that start as he struck out seven hitters in five innings, allowing just two earned runs.
For the season, Singer posted a 4.06 ERA with 61 strikeouts in 64 innings of work. He did get the benefit of facing the Tigers three times and dominated them each time out. Still, it was a solid season for the Kansas City rookie.
Singer relies heavily on two pitches, a sinker and a slider. He occasionally mixes in a changeup (4.7 percent of the time) but relies on the sinker and slider 95 percent of the time. Singer will never be a heavy strikeout pitcher but does post solid strikeout rates considering his high sinker usage. Most sinker pitchers focus on getting ground balls, which Singer induces at a high rate. If he wants to take the next step forward, he will need to develop his changeup further, as it is often hard for starting pitchers to rely on just two pitches.
Outside of Asa Lacy, which Royals pitcher would you rather have long term in dynasty?
— Chris Clegg (@RotoClegg) December 26, 2020
Kris Bubic, LHP
Like Brady Singer, Kris Bubic was also selected by the Kansas City Royals in the 2018 draft, going 40th overall. The lefty was good from day one at Stanford and worked his way into a starting role during his freshman year. In his sophomore and junior seasons, he really blossomed and got his strikeout stuff going. He finished his Stanford career with a 2.82 ERA and 235 strikeouts in 223 innings pitched.
The success carried right over to the minor leagues, where Bubic continued his dominance. He continued to refine his changeup, which is one of his best pitches. Despite never pitching above high-A, the Royals felt comfortable promoting during the second week of the 2020 season. It was a rocky season, but Bubic flashed his potential in several outings. He finished the season making ten starts, posting a 4.32 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 50 innings. It was not the strikeout upside we have seen in the past, but Bubic did have several games where he flashed his dominance on the mound.
Bubic relies on three pitches; a four-seam fastball, changeup, and curveball. He used the fastball nearly 55 percent of the time in 2020 and the changeup right at 30 percent. I previously mentioned Bubic’s changeup is his best pitch, and it showed in 2020. While he did not strike out a ton of hitters with it, it produced a 31.1 percent whiff rate, which leads me to believe he could strikeout more hitters with it in the future. I would love to see Bubic decrease his fastball usage and feature both the changeup and curveball more in the future.
Bubic does have solid upside that you could argue is higher than Singer. Both Bubic and Singer will be back in the rotation in 2021 with a (shortened) season of Major League experience under their belt. It will be fun to watch both young pitchers continue to develop. Now, let’s move to the prospect side now.
Kansas City Royals Pitching Prospects
Asa Lacy, LHP
The future ace of the Kansas City Royals staff is their 2020 first-round pick, Asa Lacy. Kansas City was thrilled that Lacy was still on the board with the fourth pick, as he was their guy. Like many freshmen in college, Lacy started in the bullpen. He pitched well, earning him a spot in the rotation during his sophomore year. During his sophomore and shortened junior season, Lacy accumulated 112.2 innings in 19 starts. Over those starts, he struck out 176 hitters and posted a 1.76 ERA. Even more impressive, before the shutdown in 2020, Lacy had a 0.75 ERA and 46 strikeouts in just 24 innings.
Asa Lacy, 14Ks in 5IP (in 36 seconds). 🔥 pic.twitter.com/W8zPi9PVAV
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 10, 2020
Lacy’s fastball sits 92-to-97 miles-per-hour and gets a great downhill plane thanks to his tall frame. His curveball and slider are both dominant breaking pitches. Lacy’s slider sits in the low 80s and is arguably the better of the two. His changeup gives him a solid fourth offering, but he is still refining that pitch.
Lacy’s walk rate in college is concerning, as he struggled slightly with command and control. Not bad by any means, but it is something that Lacy needs to refine if he wants to take the next step to be a high-end starting pitcher. Even with just average command and control, his four-pitch mix could be deadly and make Lacy one of the better pitchers in baseball.
Daniel Lynch, LHP
Like several other Royals pitchers we have discussed, Daniel Lynch was also selected in the 2018 draft with the 34th overall pick. Lynch never posted eye-popping numbers at the University of Virginia, posting a career 4.56 ERA and just a 20.6 percent strikeout rate in 205 innings pitched. The Kansas City Royals looked past that and saw a projectable 6’6 frame and a solid fastball/slider combo. The pick paid off as Lynch looked dominant in his pro-debut.
Lynch appeared to be on the fast track to the big league club before an arm injury kept him out for nearly seven weeks in 2019. He returned to form and looked extremely polished to end the 2019 season.
The Royals also helped Lynch make a change to his arsenal to throw more fastballs. It helped increase his velocity to sit in the mid-90s and reach the upper 90s when Lynch really gets after it. His fastball is one of his more developed pitches, but he also loves going to his slider. It plays off his fastball well, and he can get hitters to swing and miss with it. Lynch rounds out his arsenal with a curveball and changeup that are both improving pitches. Top that off with above-average command, and you have the makings of a solid, back-end SP2-SP3 type pitcher.
#Royals lefty Daniel Lynch with a filthy first inning: robo strike 3 of Brujan, jams Adell with 97, beats Deichmann with an 88 slider then freezes him at 9️⃣9️⃣ mph 🔥🔥 @MLBazFallLeague #FallStars pic.twitter.com/ElDLDuyaCs
— Jacob Zweiback (@TheReelJZ) October 13, 2019
Jackson Kowar, RHP
What do you know, another pitcher drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 2018. Jackson Kowar, like Brady Singer, played college baseball at the University of Florida. Kowar was selected 33rd overall by the Royals, just before Daniel Lynch. The Royals had five draft picks in the first 58 picks and took pitchers with each selection. Four that we have discussed, plus Jonathan Bowlan with the 58th overall pick. It was a bold move by the Royals, but having the depth of so many college pitchers has helped accelerate their rebuild process.
Kowar has been the model of consistency throughout his college and professional career. In his career at Florida, he posted a 3.53 ERA with 8.6 strikeouts-per-nine innings and 3.4 BB/9. In his two MILB seasons, Kowar has a 3.50 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. Nearly identical numbers outside of his improved walk rate in the minors. Kowar was a perfect model of consistency in 2019 as he split time between high-A and double-A. He pitched 74 innings at both stops in 13 starts. His single-A ERA was 3.53, while his double-A ERA was 3.51. It just goes to show you that Kowar has been both consistent and consistently good.
Kowar features a changeup that is his best pitch. It works extremely well off his fastball, and he uses it to get strikeouts as it has nice fade action. His fastball sits 93-96 mph and tops out at 98 with a nice run. His curveball is his third offering and one that showed improvement in 2019. Developing his curve into a solid third pitch will go a long way for Kowar.
His command still needs improvement, but Kowar throws plenty of strikes and produces healthy swing and miss numbers. He is durable and can pitch deep into games, which helps his likelihood of developing into a solid starting pitcher long term. Kowar could debut and be a solid part of the Royals rotation in 2021.
Love, love this three pitch sequence from Jackson Kowar to Dylan Carlson last year. FB, CH, CH, good morning, good afternoon and goodnight. @PitcherList @HoothTrevor @ShellyV_643 pic.twitter.com/I4uWAEMx6s
— Andy Patton (@andypattonPNW) May 9, 2020
Media Credits: Baseball Savant, Pitching Ninja, Jacob Zweiback, Andy Patton
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