Talking about Royals first round pick Daniel Lynch with his pitching coach, Karl Kuhn

I got the opportunity to talk with University of Virginia Pitching Coach Karl Kuhn today about LHP Daniel Lynch. Lynch was selected by the Royals last night in the 1st round as the 34th overall selection.
Last year, Lynch struck out 45 hitters in 77 innings. Slightly underwhelming for the 34th overall pick. This year, Lynch struck out 105 batters in 88 innings. This is much more on par for expectations of the 34th overall pick. The change in K’s really piqued my interest as to what specifically Lynch did to improve from his sophomore year to his junior year. I asked Coach Kuhn how this was possible and what was different this season versus last season for Lynch. Coach Kuhn told me that Lynch basically started pitching to contact better. Lynch improved his fastball command. He got more swings and misses. Hitters fouled off more pitches earlier in counts putting Lynch into more successful pitcher’s counts. All of this combined will do the trick. But I sensed there was more. And then Coach Kuhn gave me the secret to Lynch’s success this year. “The development of the curveball,” he said.
Last year, Lynch threw the fastball, a slider, and a change. This is a combination of a hard pitch, hard pitch, and soft pitch. This year, with the curveball Lynch added, he has a combination of two hard pitches and two soft pitches. This allowed Lynch to go deeper into games by getting more defensive swings and keeping hitters more off balance. It gave him another tool in his arsenal to go too and something else hitters have to fight against. And it isn’t just going from three pitches to four, it’s going from three decent pitches to four quality pitches.
The curve was something that Lynch worked really hard with Coach Kuhn to develop. Coach Kuhn quickly points out all the hard work Lynch put in and gives him full credit for the pitch. Coach Kuhn said, “The library is only good if you walk inside of it and he walked inside of it. He committed to it.”
Another thing that Coach Kuhn really attributes to Lynch’s development this year is becoming a comfortable pitcher. Young pitchers have a vision or persona of what they want to be but often don’t have an understanding of who they actually are as a pitcher. And this is true for a lot of us in life. Often we don’t accelerate at something until our vision of who we are and the actuality of who we are meets. Coach Kuhn attributes this as the second biggest factor of Lynch’s successful growth as a pitcher. Lynch is truly comfortable with who he is as a pitcher. Young pitchers often get hit around as they work to become better and sometimes get gun shy because of this. Lynch has realized who he is as a pitcher, understands that he is going to give up some hits, but that it is not the end of the world if he gives up a hard hit ball somewhere that leads to a run. He just keeps on being him. Lynch now trusts that all of his pitches will have success and he isn’t afraid to use them. On one of the scouting reports I read, it mentioned that Lynch gets into trouble when he nibbles. It sounds like he is past that now and has become a more mature pitcher.
Lynch is a leader by example. He is a guy that the Royals will not have to worry about because he will be doing the right thing. Lynch will do the workout, be on time to the field, and is very self motivated. He won’t need to be prodded. Lynch is very good at managing himself and that wears off on others. Coach Kuhn said “the Royals are getting a very motivated kid.” This is an extremely important and misunderstood part of the pro game. If you have an athlete who isn’t motivated to be his best, he won’t be his best. Many people believe that guys will just go pro and do the right thing because they are getting the opportunity but this isn’t really the case. Many guys do enough to stay pro for their time, but not enough to really succeed as a pro. It sounds like the Royals have a guy in Lynch who will do extra work and the other things it takes to be a successful pro.
The Royals drafted Lynch to be a starter and he should get that chance long term. Lynch has a starter’s repertoire with the fastball, plus change, decent slider, and strong curve. I imagine the Royals will be careful with his innings as Lynch has already thrown 88 this spring. I would guess they use him in 3.0 innings stints (as they’ve done with college starters in the past few years) at either Burlington or Idaho Falls. Starting the 2019 season he will probably be with Lexington and begin working his way to a promotion to Wilmington later that year. Lynch will probably start 2020 in Wilmington with a quick promotion to Northwest Arkansas. By the end of 2020, he could be in Omaha. Of course a lot of this depends on the development of “The Wave” of talent ahead of him. If the position guys struggle ahead of him, he may be slowed down. If they succeed and move quickly, Lynch will probably move faster.
I want to make sure to mention that Coach Kuhn really praised the Royals scouting staff and front office. He commented several times on how professional and committed Royals area scout Jim Farr was getting to know this young man and the Virginia program. Area scouts don’t get a lot of credit so I want to make sure to point out that we have a guy in our organization that we can and should be proud of in Jim Farr.

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