According to Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com, Royals 2015 1st round pick Ashe Russell has begun a throwing program at the Royals facility in Surprise, AZ, and will hopefully be pitching in Extended Spring Training games sometime soon.
If you’re anything like me, you probably missed this yesterday. @rjlewis85 asked Flanny on Twitter the question that most of us have had for a long time. Flanny finally had an answer for Royals fans, but I’m not sure how many people saw it. I didn’t see it until last night around 10 o’clock.
This is a massive development for the Kansas City Royals. Ashe Russell had an electric arm coming out of high school in 2015, and his slider was considered among the best in the entire draft class (a draft that included Dodgers uber-prospect Walker Buehler). Ashe Russell is now 21 years old and hasn’t competed professionally since 2016, but the Royals have not given up hope on the young RHP.
This is not the first time a promising young Royals pitching prospect has stepped away from the game and attempted a return. Zack Greinke and Danny Duffy took similar paths to the big leagues, and both of those guys have had very successful MLB careers to this point. Current Royals minor leaguers Bryan Brickhouse, Carter Hope, and Jason Adam are also back with the organization after taking some time off.
While you hate seeing players step away from the game, it’s not completely unprecedented and I am thrilled to hear that Ashe Russell is back working out with the Royals. I would guess that there is a chance that he could pitch with Low-A Lexington at some point this season, but I wouldn’t expect him to get much past that. In any case, it’s great news that Ashe is back, and Royals fans ought to keep an eye out for this kid if he gets his mojo back.