The Kansas City Royals have recently found success drafting players out of the MIAA, a local NCAA DII conference, drafting players like Logan Moon from Missouri Southern State University in Joplin in 2014, and Grant Gavin from the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg in 2016. With both Moon and Gavin having a bunch of success on the farm for Kansas City, Dayton Moore wasted no time going back to the well during the 2017 draft.
In the 8th round of the 2017 MLB draft, the Kansas City Royals selected LHP Holden Capps out of the University of Central Oklahoma. Capps is a 6′ 2″ lefty that features a low-90’s fastball and a variation of different sliders.
Capps was a bit of a journeymen in college. After not getting drafted out of Redlands Community College in 2015, Capps went to DI North Carolina-Charlotte to continue his college career. He then transferred back closer to home to play at UCO in 2017, where he put up somewhat decent numbers in a fairly hitter-friendly home park at UCO.
I asked Capps to tell me a little bit about himself as a pitcher. It’s easy to read the scouting reports, but sometimes it’s interesting to hear it directly from the source. Here’s how Holden Capps would describe his stuff:
“I like to think of myself as an attack pitcher, meaning I’m going to attack the zone and challenge the hitter to put the ball in play. Velocity is something I don’t really focus on as long as I’m getting outs and missing barrels. I throw two different types of sliders, one that has more depth and downward movement, and one that is harder and has less break but breaks tighter and later. My changeup is a pitch I’m still developing and gaining trust in, but is a pitch that I can mix in and still get weak contact or ground balls with. I also throw a 4-seam and 2-seam/sinker.”
Drawing comparisons for prospects is a fun game to play. Though I’ve never seen Capps in person, the pitch-to-contact, fastball/slider mix reminds me of a few different guys. I asked Holden if he sees any similarities in himself with big league pitchers:
“Dallas Keuchel is someone that I believe I share some characteristics with. He doesn’t overpower people with his velocity but he is able to locate all of his pitches and throw them in any count. He’s an Oklahoma boy as well, and is someone I grew up hearing about as well as watching. One thing I think we really have in common is the way we compete. I’d like to think that both of us being from Oklahoma has something to do with it, but there’s so many guys out there that are competitors. You have to get 27 outs, you can’t run out the clock or anything like that, that’s what makes this game so great.”
The kid is clearly confident in his abilities. From the outside looking in, the biggest step for Holden to make will have to be that changeup. Changeups allow pitchers to neutralize hitters of the opposite hand. For example, righties are only hitting .240 against Jason Vargas this year because Vargas throws an outstanding changeup that runs away from righties.
Having a third pitch is part of what allows pitchers to start instead of relieve. Personally, I believe Capps probably projects best as a reliever long-term, though the development of a third pitch, the changeup, could allow him to be a productive big league starter over time. Guys like Jason Vargas, Dallas Keuchel, and Danny Duffy found career resurgences as they developed a better changeup, and I hope to see more of that from Capps moving forward.
Having watched a lot of MIAA baseball during my college days at UCM, I tend to really root for some of these guys coming out of the conference. It’s cool to see guys from the area succeeding at the next level, and I have no doubt that Capps will continue his success as he moves forward. I asked Capps why Royals fans ought to expect to see him in Royal Blue someday, and his answer for me won’t disappoint you:
“Well Alex, I can promise you one thing: I will leave everything I have on the field every time I get the opportunity to throw the ball. I also won’t stop working towards playing in the big leagues until either the big man upstairs tells me it’s time to do something else, or I’m physically unable to play anymore. I hope neither of those happen until I make it there.”
Holden Capps gets it. I believe that he’s grateful for the opportunity that he has been given and have no problem believing that work ethic won’t be his downfall. Whether Capps projects best as a starter or a reliever is yet to be determined, but his 0.00 ERA for the Idaho Falls Chukars this year may soon prove that the kid has what it takes to start every five days.
Photo Credits: UCO Photographic Services