2018 Official Royals Farm Report: Bullpen

I hope everyone is having a fantastic morning on this cold January day (no school for me, yay!). I am here to bring you the coverage on our farm system’s bullpen. As of today, we have covered the catchers, the outfielders, the speedsters, the middle infielders, and the corner infielders. Now we move to what could potentially be an area of strength in an otherwise baron system. I’ll give my analysis of the bullpen arms that made the top 100 and those that could see time in the bullpen very soon. Let’s get on with it! 

9. Richard Lovelady, LHP

DOB: 07/07/1995

B/T: L/L

Levels Played, 2017: High-A, AA

Acquired: 10th Round of the 2016 MLB Draft

ETA: 2018

2017 Stats (combined): 1.62 ERA, 2.10 FIP, 2.51 xFIP, 0.95 WHIP, 77 K, 17 BB, 1 HR, 66.2 IP

This funky, left-handed pitcher from Kennesaw State was definitely a steal for the Kansas City Royals. Drafted in the 10th round in 2016, he has been everything the front office could have wished for and then some. His stat-line from 2017 was crazy good, but it’s simply what he does; over 91.2 career innings out of the bullpen, Lovelady owns an ERA of 1.67, a WHIP of 0.94, and a K:BB ratio of 107:26. Simply outstanding stuff, good sir.

A friend of the site, Royals Farm Report has done multiple interviews with him and he always has graciously accepted. In the tweet below, I made an “articla” (meaning very short article; just made this up) on a prospect I was thankful for. This just so happened to be Richard Lovelady and it started out with his family liking it, and then he liked it himself. Fun little anecdote there…

One of our bright spots in terms of pitching. Lovelady should start the season at Omaha and from there it is anyone’s guess when he will reach the majors. When he does, the whole league will find out pretty quickly.

11. Brad Keller, RHP

Previous Organization: Arizona Diamondbacks

Levels Played, 2017: AA (Jackson Generals)

Drafted/Signed: 2013 MLB Draft, 8th Round

2017 Stats: 26 G, 4.68 ERA, 3.58 FIP, 130.2 IP, 142 H, 73 R, 68 ER, 57 BB, 111 SO (AA)

Traded for cash considerations, Keller comes from the Diamondbacks at an imposing 6’5 230 lbs. Rated as the #9 prospect, Keller could work as a swing-man for the Royals, but might primarily pitch out of the bullpen for now. He has excellent extension when throwing his fastball, which helps the velocity seem faster than it actually is (89-91 MPH). His fastball is a true ground-ball machine and he has a really nice change-up with which he uses to fool hitters.

Of course, this is all considering Keller makes it through Spring Training with the club.

15. Josh Staumont, RHP

DOB: 12/21/1993

B/T: R/R

Levels Played, 2017: AA (Northwest Arkansas), AAA (Omaha)

Acquired: 2015 MLB Draft, 2nd Round

ETA: 2018

2017 Stats: 16 G, 6.28 ERA, 6.47 FIP, 76 IP, 64 H, 56 R, 53 ER, 63 BB, 93 SO (Omaha), 10 G, 4.44 ERA, 4.34 FIP, 48.2 IP, 42 H, 25 R, 24 ER, 34 BB, 45 SO (Northwest Arkansas)

There is so much talent here and so much has been said about this kid. Josh Staumont can hit 100 MPH with his fastball and has a plus-plus curve to go along, but the walk rates are nearly unbearable. I think the Royals will give Staumont every chance to start, but the bullpen likely will be where he will have a successful major league career.

22. Miguel Almonte, RHP

DOB: 04/04/1993

B/T: R/R

Levels Played, 2017: AA, AAA, MLB

Acquired: International Free Agent

ETA: 2015

2017 Stats (minors combined): 1.72 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 52 K, 13 BB, 47 IP, 16 appearances, 9 starts

Just like the man above, this man here has had his fair share of problems as well in the minors. Almonte hasn’t been able to put it all together quite yet but did put up a sparkling 1.72 ERA in Omaha last year. An injury ended his 2017 season however, and if the Royals still believe in him as a starter, he will more than likely start 2018 with the Storm Chasers.

26. Burch Smith, RHP

Previous Organization: Tampa Bay Rays

Levels Played, 2017: Rookie (GCL Rays), A+ (Charlotte Stone Crabs), AAA (Durham Bulls)

Drafted/Signed: 2011 MLB Draft, 14th Round

2017 Stats: 9 G, 2.43 ERA, 3.82 FIP, 37 IP, 26 H, 12 R, 10 ER, 20 BB, 33 SO (A+), 3 G, 1.65 ERA, 3.34 FIP, 16.1 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 19 SO (AAA), 1 G, 6.00 ERA, 0.76 FIP, 3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 SO (GCL)

This right-handed pitcher from the Rays is a nice pick-up for the Royal’s bullpen. The Royals traded both for him and Keller for cash considerations. He has only thrown 82 total innings since the 2014 season; he missed the whole 2015 and 2016 season as well. His stuff, however, was too tantalizing to pass up on. His fastball sits 91-94 MPH and can touch 95-96, he features a nice 74-76 MPH curveball, and a true out pitch with his 79-81 MPH changeup. Like Keller, he will have to win the job in spring training to stick around.

29. Kyle Zimmer, RHP

DOB: 09/13/1991

B/T: R/R

Levels Played, 2017: AA (Northwest Arkansas), AAA (Omaha)

Acquired: 2012 MLB Draft, 1st Round

ETA: 2018

2017 Stats: 20 G, 5.79 ERA, 4.79 FIP, 32.2 IP, 35 H, 21 R, 21 ER, 16 BB, 34 SO (Omaha), 1 G, 2.25 ERA, 0.32 FIP, 4 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 SO (Northwest Arkansas)

Injuries have effectively offed this young man’s career up to this point, but the stuff is there. His fastball hits the mid-90s, he has a plus-plus curveball, and an above-average changeup to go along with. If he can stay injury free (and that’s a big IF) he should make his way to Kansas City. I would love to see a Richard Lovelady and Kyle Zimmer ran bullpen shutting down opposing hitters in 2020.

 34. Grant Gavin, RHP

DOB: July 10, 1995

B/T: L/R

Levels Played, 2017: Low-A, High-A

Acquired: 29th round of the 2016 MLB Draft

ETA: 2019

2017 Stats (combined): 1.65 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 77 K, 25 BB, 2 HRA, 65.1 IP, 36 appearances

Gavin left school a year early to chase after his dreams of being a pro, and it has turned out well for him. He has been named an All-Star in both of his seasons of minor league ball. He has a mid-90’s fastball and a power curve, which is definitely his out-pitch. His third pitch is his changeup that is improving as of right now. With three pitches, this guy could be a dominant reliever someday.

35. Tyler Zuber, RHP

DOB: June 16, 1995

B/T: R/R

Levels Played, 2017: Rookie, Low-A

Acquired: 6th Round of the 2017 MLB Draft

ETA: 2020

2017 Stats (Rookie only): 2.16 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 38 K, 7 BB, 0 HRA, 25 IP, 16 appearances

Coming off a fantastic rookie year, Tyler Zuber is definitely on my radar. He showed off his ability to get strikeouts (13.7 K/9) with his power mid-upper 90s fastball and his changeup. Keep an eye out for this kid, hopefully he played his way into full-season ball.

37. Yunior Marte, RHP

DOB: February 2, 1995

B/T: R/R

Levels Played, 2017: A+ (Wilmington), AA (Northwest Arkansas)

Acquired: International Free Agent

ETA: 2019

2017 Stats (combined): 3.98 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 80 K, 47 BB, 72.1 IP

Marte’s move to the bullpen certainly helped his stock grow. His mid-90’s fastball played up in the bullpen and this helped him garner more strikeouts. the problems come with his walks. He averaged 6.8 BB/9 in AA, if he can control his stuff he could become a major league reliever.

45. Eric Stout, LHP

DOB: March 27, 1993

B/T: L/L

Levels Played, 2017: AAA (Omaha)

Acquired: 13th Round of the 2014 MLB Draft

ETA: 2018

2017 Stats: 2.99 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 56 K, 29 BB, .193 BAA LHH, 69.1 IP

A tall lefty who was death to left-handed hitters (.193 BAA) last year. Stout pitches from a 3/4 arm slot. He features 92-93 MPH on his fastball, a nice slider, and a hard changeup. He definitely has the looks of a major league reliever.

49. Pedro Fernandez, RHP

DOB: May 25, 1994

B/T: R/R

Levels Played, 2017: AA, AA

Acquired: International Free Agent Signing

ETA: 2018

2017 Stats (AA only): 2.66 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 51 K to 13 BB, 1 HRA, 50.2 IP

Fernandez has a nice fastball/changeup combo. The trouble is he hasn’t found success in AAA yet. Hopefully he reaches that level this year after a nice year at AA last year.



As you can see, there is plenty of talent in the Royals system to create a bullpen in the future. With the success that guys like Richard Lovelady, Tyler Zuber, and Grant Gavin have found in the minors, the door is open for a potentially dominant future ‘pen. 2017 Rule 5 Draft selections Burch Smith and Brad Keller could provide an immediate jolt to the Royals bullpen, although it’s yet to be seen what their roles on the team will be. Stay tuned for more of our “official farm reports!”

2 thoughts on “2018 Official Royals Farm Report: Bullpen

  1. Surely the Royals are not giving up on Staumont as a starter. I wouldn’t.

    Also, I bet Keller is given every opportunity to start. I could see them telling Karns to start at AAA just to build up his innings.


  2. Pingback: True to form, the Royals are growing their next great bullpen on the farm | Royals Farm Report

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