Josh Staumont has always had the ability to throw a baseball harder than most guys over his minor league and collegiate careers. Hitting 100 mph on the gun is a routine occurrence for him by now. Unfortunately, his greatest strength is also his greatest weakness. He simply cannot consistently place the ball where he wants it. As his strikeout numbers have climbed higher and higher at each stop along his major league quest, so too, have his walks. He has been among the league leaders in walks the past several years. As a starter, those walks can come back to haunt you in a myriad of different ways, the most obvious being that every pitch you throw adds to your overall pitch count and forces the manager to get you out of the game sooner than anticipated. It’s a common struggle for power pitchers, and something that even pitchers like Danny Duffy is still learning how to work through.
There is a fairly simple solution though. Just stick him in the bullpen.
Recent Royals history has shown that even mediocre starters can be become good-to-great relievers. Luke Hochevar and Wade Davis are the first two that come to mind. Now I wouldn’t necessarily call Josh Staumont a mediocre starter, but his dominant stretches are often soon followed by a long stretch of bad performances. With someone as talented as he is, the Royals have to get every ounce of skill that they can out of him. In order to do that, they moved him to the bullpen this season, with the early results being absolutely fantastic thus far.
In his 10.1 innings of work in Omaha this season, he’s already logged 22 strikeouts to only 7 walks. Being used in those short spurts has allowed his already great stuff to play up even more. This is a development that could be extremely beneficial for the Royals in at least two ways. For one, Staumont could turn into a dominant reliever in a similar vein to that of Herrera or Davis. Or two, he could gain more confidence in his stuff and turn into a studly starter with a great fastball and solid control.
That’s definitely someone any team would love to have on their roster. If he can finally get a grip on his control, he could become a force to be reckoned with. With the current state of our farm system, we could use every successful prospect we can get our hands on.
Obviously, a lot would have to go right for that to happen. Hochevar and Davis were lightning in the bottle type of occurrences. It is still very early in the season and plenty could change between now and September, but it is an encouraging sign to see one of our higher profile prospects having consistent success.
Realistically, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get a call up at some point if he keeps producing consistently in AAA and the big league club still needs bullpen help throughout the year. Who am I kidding? Any team that has Blaine Boyer on the roster will always need bullpen help.
Photo Credits: Minda Haas Kuhlmann