Perhaps the best season that flew under the radar this season on the Royals’ farm came from right handed reliever Grant Gavin out of the University of Central Missouri.
Gavin, a 6′ 2″ righty, dominated hitters this season between Low and High-A. We’ve covered Gavin a bit here at Royals Farm Report, feel free to read a little more about him here:
Gavin was named an All-Star for the second time in his second professional season this summer while he was with the Low-A Lexington Legends, and was quickly promoted to the High-A Wilmington Blue Rocks after the All-Star Game.
The numbers for Gavin speak for themselves. Let’s do a little bit of a “Blind Pick-A-Player” game here with Gavin and another reliever in the Royals’ system.
Player A: 1.65 ERA in 65.1 IP, 2.70 FIP, 77 K to 25 BB, 1.04 WHIP, .185 BAA, 2 HR. 84.6% LOB%, across Low and High-A
Player B: 1.62 ERA in 66.2 IP, 2.10 FIP, 77 K to 17 BB, 0.95 WHIP, .192 BAA, 1 HR, 76.2% LOB%, across High and Double-A
Player A, of course, is Grant Gavin. Player B is Richard Lovelady.
As you can see, opposing hitters actually had more success hitting off of Lovelady than they did against Gavin. Gavin walked a few more hitters, but his 3.08 K:BB ratio is nothing to be concerned about.
To be clear, and fair, Richard Lovelady had quite a bit more success at High-A than did Gavin. Gavin’s dominance at the Low-A level and Lovelady’s relative lack of utter dominance at Double-A make the numbers more comparable over a full season. Richard Lovelady is also only 3 days older than Gavin and is going to reach Kansas City much quicker than Gavin will barring some kind of catastrophic injury.
But the point remains, Grant Gavin had one of the more dominant seasons in relief in the Royals system in 2017 and he appears to have flown under the radar on most Royals prospect lists. His mid-90’s fastball combined with what I would consider to be a 65-70 grade curveball, ought to make for a very effective reliever at the big league level one day.