Welcome to a new series called Get to know a Royals prospect! In this series, I’ll be looking at prospects at each level, giving you some background and analysis about each of them. The talent in the Kansas City Royals minor league system runs extremely deep. This series will aim to help you get to know about some of the great players that make up the Royals minor league system, including the ones you read and hear about daily and some of the not-so-well-known prospects. I’ll give you the background of where the player came from, take a look at their minor league numbers, provide some analysis about each player, and potentially feature some incredible stories that look at the human behind the athlete.
Here’s a list of the ones I’ve written up so far:
This week we head back to the mound to cover pitching prospect Nathan Webb, who has a fascinating story. The Kansas City Royals took the 6’2, 215lb right-handed pitcher in the 34th round of the 2016 MLB Draft. Webb played his high school baseball at Lee’s Summit North High School in Missouri as a local kid.
Most who are selected in the 34th round like Webb would opt to go the college route, but Webb decided to take a shot with his hometown team. Webb has an incredible backstory that was most recently covered in an article by Alec Lewis. He found himself working in the grounds crew at Kauffman Stadium, where he could be around the game and the team he loved. His love and passion for the game and his connection to the Royals just kept growing from there.
Before 2021, Webb struggled to adjust to professional baseball, having an ERA over five for his first three years. In 2019, he started to turn it around, striking out 77 batters in 63.1 innings pitched. His walk rate improved, which went from over 15% to below 10%. He was able to take his BB/9 from 6.87 in 2018 to 3.84. Webb took the 2020 season to work on the areas he needed to improve, even building a mound in his backyard.
The hard work in 2020 paid off. Throwing out of the bullpen as a reliever, Webb split time between Low-A Columbia and High-A Quad Cities. He found much success as he struck out 89 batters in 59.1 innings pitched. He had a 4% strikeout rate in Low-A and a 35.1% strikeout rate in High-A. He coupled that strikeout rate with a much improved 2.48 BB/9. His fastball sits around 96-98 mph and has touched 100 mph many times. He has found ways to be more consistent with his fastball command and throws more strikes. This success led him to be one of five players added to the Royals 40-man roster this offseason.
Seeing the Royals add him to the 40-man roster and his potential to be a significant piece in the bullpen is fun to see. Having only pitched in High-A last year, Webb most definitely starts the year in Double-A with the potential to make his debut in 2022 if all things go well. He will most definitely be up for the challenge the Double-A hitters will give him, and if his command keeps on improving, he will keep finding success. Webb is an easy person to root for. Not only because he is a local kid, but for how hard he works and how much he cares about being a Kansas City Royal.
Photo Credits: Josh Franzen (@PrtTimeFranimal)