The next edition of our prospect watch will focus on the most recent Royals 2nd round pick (third selection).
Taken with the 73rd selection of the 2017 draft out of baseball powerhouse Chipola College, instead of going to what would have been his third school (also pitched at Vanderbilt, was set to transfer to Auburn), Steele inked a deal with the Royals, getting a $826,500 signing bonus, above the slot value.
Quickly after the draft when the AZL Royals started up play, Steele was not pitching. The delay in his debut is thought to be the blame of a large workload in college (threw 143 pitches in national championship).
Though it was a very small sample size, when Steele finally did take the mound, he impressed. In 8 innings pitched, Steele struck out 16, while walking two.
Heading into the draft, Steele was one of the better lefties in the pool, as his fastball/slider combo was drawing eyes. The first thing that stands out to me with Steele is the size. He has an imposing figure on the mound, standing at 6’5″ 201 lbs. The fastball looks good and still has room to grow with development. He usually runs that in the low-mid 90s.
The most exciting pitch in his repertoire is the slider. It runs with horizontal movement, making it a deadly pitch to righties. He also holds an above average changeup along with a curveball.
The biggest concern for me with Steele is his delivery. Yes, it is unique and can be tough for hitters to pick up, but it’s eccentric way can cause a concern for injuries. If my reasons for fear stay in hiding, I think Steele has a legit shot to start at the major league level. His competitiveness, above-average offerings, and ability to mix pitches well should get him somewhere. Worst things worst, he can’t handle a starter’s workload and has to be moved to the bullpen. Steele as a reliever with his FB/SL combo and added velocity could have a relatively high-ceiling.
After numerous prospects graduated or were traded, Steele found himself on the Royals Farm Report Top 30 to end the year, appearing at the last spot. Expect Steele to climb the ladder on our next rankings, as he’s probably one of the better pitchers in a system that lacks impact talent.