* I want to make sure to begin this article with an important note from myself, the editor. A friend of mine named Dustin Spalding conducted this interview and did the write up. You can follow Dustin on Twitter @DustSpalding. Dustin isn’t officially on the writing staff here at Royals Farm Report yet, though that could change soon, and I wasn’t able to get Dustin’s name on the authorship on the site. So, while my name appears as the author for this article, please direct praise for the interview to Dustin. Go shout him out on the Twitter machine. *
Daniel Lynch, the Royals third pick in the 2018 MLB Draft and top 100 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, used a simplified downhill delivery to dominate hitters in the Arizona Fall League this past fall. He sat in the 96-99 mph range with his fastball during his one inning start at the “Fall Stars” Game and duplicated that velocity during the AFL Championship Game.
His velocity has made a jump since college, and while the shorter stints undoubtedly contributed to the increase, Lynch credits throwing his fastball more and getting back to his natural motion as reasons for his jump in velo. Lynch’s one-inning outing during the Fall Stars game was the most impressive performance I witnessed in my time in Arizona.
Without further ado, here’s the full transcript from my interview with Lynch:
Question: You made a deliberate effort tonight to attack with your fastball early. Any reason behind that besides getting ahead of the hitter?
Lynch: “I tried to treat this like a normal start, so normally I wouldn’t throw much offspeed in the first inning anyways, so I just tried to go right after them.”
At Salt River fields where the Rising Stars game was held, a robo ump has been used this fall.
Question: “What did you think of the robo ump when it rang up the first batter of the game?”
Lynch: “I think I might be laughing out there.”
Question: “Going into this next offseason, what are you looking to do besides improving your routine and being able to throw your changeup in any count? Do you think you’ve done that?”
Lynch: “I think I’ve done a really good job since I’ve got here. When I got back to Wilmington, it was sort of getting back in the groove of things [and] getting back to being myself. I think here I’ve thrown a couple (changeups) 2-2, 2nd and 3rd, 2 out. Like 1-0 change-ups, 2-0 change-ups. It’s just getting that confidence and feel for it and I think I’ve done a good job with that so far.”
Question: “In terms of what you’ve incorporated from your teammates here in the AFL, anything you’ve taken away from them for your routine, in-game preparation, or ways to attack hitters?”
Lynch: “It’s really just little things, I think. Throwing fastballs up in the zone is something I’ve learned to do I think for strikes more (often). I didn’t really understand the concept. Obviously I felt like I could put guys away up in the zone but throwing there and just watching big leaguers do it and then being able to translate that and some guys have helped me out from other organizations.”
Question: “Who are some of those guys that have helped you with that?”
Lynch: “A guy that used to be with the Royals, Jacob Condra-Bogan, who is a reliever, but he just sat me down and showed me some video of his and said, ‘I’m just trying to throw the fastball through the catcher’s mask, every time.’ That’s not necessarily my game. My hope is to throw my fastball whenever I want to, but it just showed me you can throw your fastball up in the zone for a strike, it doesn’t always have to be a putaway pitch.”
Question: “You talked about breaking down video, in terms of the pitch tracking technology that’s out now, how have you incorporated that into enhancing your performance as a pitcher and what do you think about it?”
Lynch: “During the season not too much just because if you’re getting guys out, there is always stuff to get better at. I don’t put that on the top of my list as far as in-season, but I obviously threw with Edgertronic and Rapsodo in the offseason and that stuff was super helpful. I think I have a much better understanding going into this offseason of what I really need to do to get better.”
Question: “In terms of what you need to do to get better going into this offseason, what do you think?”
Lynch: “I think health is first and foremost. Like taking this offseason a lot less of pitch development and things like that and just really focus on being healthy first and foremost and putting my body in the best position to be healthy for 200 innings. And then, really it’s just going to be refinement. I think last offseason I made the mistake of trying to change a few things and I think it’s just better to look at as fine-tuning things, not changing anything really, just refining.”
Question: “Since college at UVA you’ve really taken ownership of your development. How has that enhanced your success as a pro?”
Lynch: “I think just the accountability of if I don’t do well, if I don’t do what I need to do, it’s nobody else’s fault. And it’s also just the fact that if you go out and give up 6 (runs) in 2 innings, you’re going right back out there 5 days later. That’s been super helpful. There’s been no worry about losing a job or anything like that it’s really just been ‘You know what, I didn’t pitch well’ and learning to move on and take accountability for that. Then when you do pitch well, you know getting too high and really realizing that you just need to go out and repeat and do your job.”
Lynch had the opportunity to prove just that after his next start when he allowed 7 hits and 5 earned runs in 3 innings, his worst start of the fall. He then threw 3 scoreless last Saturday.
Question: “What’s your favorite part about the Kansas City Royals organization?”
Lynch: “I think it’s just the people. I think we have great people. It was really eye opening when I first got there and it’s just been more of the same. When I went back for rehab, everyone was so inviting and so cool and just really helped me get better and keep a positive attitude while I was there. All the guys from the front office to the clubbies to the trainers has such a homey feel and is just really great.”
Question: “What were some of the challenges you dealt with in your rehab process?” Lynch was rehabbing his throwing shoulder from June 11- August 13 of this season.
Lynch: “Walking around the facility you see the NW Arkansas, Wilmington, Lexington, and the Omaha games and sort of watching all of your buddies out there competing and knowing that you’re not there.”
Question: “Any particular pitchers you try to emulate on the mound?”
Lynch: “Jacob deGrom. A while back I was just watching him and I was like, ‘Wow, he has a similar arm path to me.’ And we’re both the same build, he throws really hard and is really good. Honestly when I was rehabbing I broke down a ton of his film and sort of started trying to do a lot of stuff that he does and it’s been super helpful.”
Question: “If you’re in the box down 0-2, what pitch would you least like to see from a fellow 2018 Royals draftee?”
Lynch: “Kowar’s changeup.”
Question: “Any particular goals going into Spring Training of next season other than health?”
Lynch: “I think just repeating. I feel like I’m in a good spot where I am here. I’ve been happy with the things I’ve learned and being able to apply those and not trying to do too much. Just taking it as a learning experience and having an understanding of things I did wrong last season and things I could do better.”
Photo Credits: PLPhoto2015 (@PPhoto2015)
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