Recently we’ve spent some time pondering when Richard Lovelady will get a chance in the major league pen and if Josh Staumont could be an opener for the Royals. Both guys have the potential to really help the Royals. Who is the next top relief prospect that we’ll soon be talking about adding to the Royals bullpen?
That guy could be Tyler Zuber. Zuber was a 2017 sixth round pick who got just $2,500 to sign. Some people would call him a money saving pick but he was a very effective money saving pick as he could challenge for big league time by September. Of course, he is behind Lovelady and Staumont and won’t be added to the 40-man roster too quickly. The Royals will give him some time to develop. He will likely start in Wilmington this season and could move quickly to NWA or even to Omaha by the end of the season.
Zuber throws 93-95 and can bump it harder as needed. He throws a fastball, curve, slider, and change. The change was already good on draft day and the curve and slider have improved since then as well.
Zuber has gotten a high number of strikeouts so far in his professional career posting 12.52 K/9. During 2018, Zuber posted a swing-and-miss rate of 14 percent but it was only 9 percent after his promotion to Wilmington in early July. He will look to improve that as he seemed to tire at the end of last season. Zuber does a good job elevating his fastball when he is ahead in the zone and using his breaking balls as chase pitches.
The Royals praise Zuber for his competitiveness and bulldog mentality. Zuber fills up the zone and isn’t afraid to attack any hitter. He limits runners posting a 2.64 BB/9 rate and a 1.34 WHIP in 78.1 career innings. Guys who are competitive on the mound are a very valuable commodity in baseball. You need to build your team on these players.
Zuber did suffer from an opponent’s batting average on balls in play of .358 over the season suggesting that he gave up more hard contact than he should of and had some bad luck. That number was .429 from August 1 through the end of the season. We’ll see that number adjust this season after another year of experience and a year in which I think he’ll be stronger through the finish.
I think Zuber will have an awesome season and by the end, we’ll be talking about him as the next top relief prospect.
Image from clubhouseconversation.com and credited to Tyler Zuber.