Look at the Early Returns on the Pitchers the Royals Drafted in 2018


Pick Name P Notes
1.18 Brady Singer RHP Did not pitch in affiliated ball after the College World Series. The Royals held him out due to a hamstring injury. Is throwing at instructs. Aaron Nola comp on draft day working 95-96 with a plus slider.
1.33 Jackson Kowar RHP Won a championship with Lexington. Started two games in the playoffs throwing 10.0 innings allowing 1 run on 7 H, 1 BB, and 10 Ks. Threw 36.1 innings on the season with a 2.74 ERA, 7.98 K/9, 7.92 H/9, and 3.24 BB/9 in 11 starts. Kowar was a little rusty getting started but was top notch in the playoffs showing his knack for rising to clutch levels in big games. Michael Wacha comp on draft day because of his plus change up.
1.34 Daniel Lynch LHP Won a championship with Lexington. Started two games in the playoffs throwing 8.0 innings allowing 0 runs on 8 H, 1 BB, and 7 K. Lynch started 14 games between the Burlington Royals and Lexington with a 1.37 combined ERA, 10.36 K/9, 7.92 H/9, and 1.37 BB/9. It’s hard to imagine a better start to his pro career for Lynch who showed an ability to throw four pitches, limit runners, and keep the damage to a minimum.
1.40 Kris Bubic LHP Bubic threw in the hitting rich confines of Melaleuca Park in Idaho Falls to start his career. Every time I’ve been to Idaho Falls or watched a game on MiLB.tv played there, the wind is blowing straight out to CF. So you have to take a pitcher’s lack of success with a grain of salt. That being said, the 20-year-old Bubic put up some huge strikeout numbers with 53 Ks in 38.0 innings. He made 10 starts with an ERA of 4.03 allowing 38 H and 19 BBs. Bubic put up 12.55 K/9 while 4.5 BB/9. Obviously he needs to get his control under control and I think that will happen as he goes forward. The 12.55 K/9 is an outstanding number.  I’m ready to watch him pitch in a more neutral environment.
2.58 Jonathan Bowlan RHP Bowlan had a rougher time than Bubic in Idaho Falls. Bowlan went 35.0 innings in 9 starts for the Chukars. He had a 6.94 ERA allowing 51 hits, 9 BB, and 23 K. The 13.1 H/9 number is definitely too high but the 2.31 BB/9 is good. With his fastball and slider combo, Bowlan needs to start producing more strikeouts and push that 5.91 K/9 number up to about one per inning.
5.152 Austin Cox LHP Cox pitched in Burlington all year and should open the 2019 season in Lexington. It’s tough for someone to beat the 12.55 K/9 that Bubic put up but Cox did it with 13.77 K/9. Cox made 9 starts for the B-Royals throwing 33.1 innings. He allowed 14 ER, 29 H, 15 BB, and had 51 K. Cox’s BB/9 rate was 4.05 which is too high and his control should come around even though it was a question mark for him when he was drafted. His slider is top of the line and guarantees him a lot of chances in pro ball. His pitching coach at Mercer called his slider plus plus and it has looked that way early in his pro career. Cox has a huge ceiling if he can lock in his control and stay in positive pitcher’s counts.
6.182 Zach Haake RHP Haake is spending the early fall at the Royals instructs after throwing just 15.1 pro innings. Haake started 6 games between the Arizona Royals and Idaho Falls Chukars. Haake had a 1.76 ERA with only 5.36 H/9 allowed. Haake did a great job of limiting the free passes as well with just 2.35 BB/9. His WHIP was 0.85. He struck out hitters at a rate of 8.22 K/9. Haake’s results have never seemed to match up to his stuff so it is encouraging to see his early results.
7.212 Tyler Gray RHP Every time Kris Bubic pitched, Tyler Gray pitched. Gray was the piggyback man for Bubic and the Chukars this season. Gray usually covered whatever Bubic left meaning if he came in for the 6th, he pitched 4.0 innings and finished the game. If he came in for the 5th, he pitched 5.0 innings and finished the game. Gray ended up with a 4.56 ERA in 47.1 innings allowing 48 hits, 20 BBs, and 57 K. Gray’s K/9 is 10.84 while his BB/9 is 3.80. Gray gives up about a hit per inning. This is a solid season for a pitcher in the hitting-friendly environment of Idaho Falls. Gray looks like he could be a potential sleeper as a starting pitcher going forward. He has also shown that he can throw successfully out of the pen even if it was in the piggyback role.
10.302 Austin Lambright LHP Lambright racked up the Ks for Burlington this season at a rate of 12.49 K/9. However, he also racked up the BBs as he struggled with his control at a rate of 10.88 BB/9. I saw him throw a short stint in relief when I got to watch Burlington at Bristol on our way back from the family vacation in Myrtle Beach. Yes, I drove a few hours out of the way. No I don’t regret it at all. In the outing I saw Lambright did walk a couple of guys but they were both in 3-2 counts. Lambright needs to dial up his control which seems to always have been an issue. If he can dial it in with his mid-90s velo, and continue something remotely close to 12.49 K/9, he could be a solid bullpen piece at some point. But it is a big wild card and an extremely high risk/high reward type of pick. Austin is a TJ survivor which caused him to miss his 2016 season in college. His twin brother Brandon had control issues for the Grand Junction Rockies in 2017.
12.362 Rylan Kaufman LHP Kaufman was one of seven San Jacinto players drafted in 2018. Rylan pitched just 7.0 innings for the Royals affiliates this year and is immensely talented but still a development project. He touches 94 from the left side so there is a lot of potential and room for improvement in his frame. Kaufman is just 19 and was drafted after his freshman year. In his short time as a Royal, he has 12 ground outs compared to 1 out in the air. He has 8 Ks and 2 BBs in his 7.0 innings while allowing just 6 hits and 3 runs. Kaufman is currently at instructs with the Royals and will probably start 2019 in extended spring training.
13.392 Jon Heasley RHP Heasley started 11 games for the Chukars in Idaho Falls. He threw 50.2 innings allowing 29 ERs on 55 H, 16 BB, and 35 Ks. His ERA was 5.15 while he allowed 9.86 H/9, 2.84 BB/9, and 6.22 K/9. You would like to see him add some more Ks as he goes forward in pro ball but his control and runners allowed has been solid especially for a guy whose biggest question mark was control.
14.422 Christian Cosby RHP Cosby started his pro career throwing 39.1 innings in Arizona where the Royals used him as a multi-inning reliever. Cosby allowed 15 ER on 37 H, 14 BB, and 42 K. His pro stats were very consistent with what he did at Chapman University in southern California. Cosby has good height at 6’5″ which helped to his 9.61 K/9. Cosby allowed just 3.20 BB/9 and just under a hit per inning in Arizona. Cosby is relatively new to pitching but brings in at 95 to 96. The Royals will probably bring him along fairly slow to start his career and leave him in the bullpen. Some scouts have talked about 100 mph being in his near future.
16.482 Kyle Hinton RHP Hinton threw 30.2 innings allowing 13 runs on 21 H, 18 BB, and 46 K for Burlington. He also threw 2.0 innings at Wilmington as a fill in. Hinton had good strike out numbers which equated to 12.67 K/9 while only giving up 6.25 H/9. Like many of the pitchers drafted this year, walks were an issue. Hinton had a 5.51 BB/9 rate which is too high. Hinton follows the Royals trend of drafting college pitchers who have put up some high K numbers. Hinton works up to 94 and it seems his stuff plays up out of the pen. He throws a slider and a change up as well.
17.512 Noah Bryant RHP Bryant is another youngster who is relatively new to pitching and learning at the Royals Instructs in Arizona. Bryant can bring it in the mid-90s and spent the summer at the Royals complex in Surprise playing for the Arizona Royals. As he works with the pro staff, he will cut down on the 10.80 BB/9 rate. Bryant is a long way out but some improvements with his control will go a long ways toward his development. There is always time for guys who are new to pitching and pop 97.
22.662 Bryce Hensley LHP Hensley had a great summer for the Arizona Royals when he put up 11.00 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, and a WHIP of 1.17. Hensley works right around 90 and throws from a 3/4 arm angle. He was above the league talent wise and will be challenged with a more appropriate level next season. The Royals love big LHPs who throw from lower arm angles and Hensley fits right into that mold.
23.692 Josh Dye LHP Dye is another one of those tall LHPs at 6’5″ with a lower arm slot. Dye worked mostly as a starter for the Burlington Royals working 35.2 innings allowing 18 ER on 45 H, 5 BB, and 34 K. Although he doesn’t have power stuff yet, his plus change up really helped him get hitters out. Dye works up to 90 and will hopefully add more velo as he continues to grow and fill out his long frame. Dye did make one start in Wilmington to finish the season in a fill-in role working 5.0 innings with just 1 ER on 3 H, 1 BB, and 6 K. The Royals are really good at finding guys who can make up a good bullpen and Dye seems like he could be working toward that in his future.
26.782 Daniel James RHP James worked out of the pen for the Arizona Royals and Idaho Falls Chukars. He dealt with a hip injury in college but has the ability to be a low to mid-90s kind of guy. At 6’4″, his stuff may play up out of the pen once he is fully healthy. He had 22 K in his 18.0 innings for 11.0 K/9. James gave up fewer than a hit per inning and 3.5 BB/9.
27.812 Derrick Adams LHP Adams signed with the Royals for $100,000 but has yet to pitch in affiliated ball. The scouting report says up to 90, above average curveball, decent change up, good control, and a good understanding of how to pitch.
29.872 Andres Nunez RHP Nunez worked 23.2 innings between the Arizona Royals bullpen and Idaho Fall Chukars bullpen. Nunez had a WHIP of 1.10 because he limited hits and had a 2.66 BB/9 rate. Nunez also put up 9.51 K/9. Nunez is a 2-seam/cutter guy with a good change.
33.992 Teddy Cillis LHP Cillis had no problem transitioning to pro ball working for all three rookie level teams in the Royals system. Cillis worked 31.2 innings out of the bullpen with a 3.41 ERA. Cillis’s walk rate was higher than it should have been at 4.55 BB/9 but he made up for it with a 6.64 H/9 rate and 9.09 K/9 rate. Cillis has shown higher velo’s out of the bullpen but typically works lower 90s.

Overview:  The early returns are good.  The Royals drafted some guys who can be big league starters and bullpen pieces.  They got a lot of tall guys who throw hard and put up the strikeouts.  We got some big time RHPs at the top of the draft, some very projectable LHP starters at the top of the draft, some wild card guys with really good arms who could be lock down bullpen arms or 3 or 4 type starters in the top 10 rounds, and a few guys who might catch lightning in a bottle in the rest of the draft.  The Royals are very good at building a bullpen and a few of these later picks could make it to the majors in that capacity.

As a whole, I’d like to see some better BB/9 numbers but these guys are adjusting and working to get better.  I really like all the high K/9 numbers I saw through this list and look forward to watching the Royals figure out their logjam of talented arms vying for a spot in Lexington next year.

Picture from Royal Rundown.

One thought on “Look at the Early Returns on the Pitchers the Royals Drafted in 2018

  1. Pingback: 2018 Draft Class – Position Players | Royals Farm Report

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s