2021 Breakout Watch: Could The Royals’ Brady Singer Emerge As A Top 30 Starter?

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The Royals are a rebuilding franchise, though their 4.30 team ERA was reasonable and gives a sense of hope. While we don’t think of Kansas City as a place to target pitchers, could Brady Singer emerge as a 2021 breakout candidate? The surface numbers do give at least a little sense of hope:

64.1 IP
4 Wins
4.06 ERA
1.17 WHIP
61 Strikeouts (8.53 K/9)
23 Walks (3.22 BB/9)
53.1% Groundball Rate
.260 BABIP

A first round pick in the 2018 draft, we gave him a “C+” grade prior to the season as their were questions regarding his arsenal and delivery. Here’s what we had to say:

The biggest question facing Singer is whether or not he’ll be able to stick in the rotation, or if his delivery and limited arsenal (he currently is a fastball/sider pitcher) will lead to him shifting to the bullpen.  For now the Royals have reason to continue to try and develop him as a starter, as he’s shown he can generate groundballs (50.9%) to go along with strong control (2.37 BB/9).  As he continues to move up against more advanced hitters his ultimate upside will be determined, but for now he’s a starting pitcher.

Obviously at 24-years old there’s plenty of time for him to develop additional pitches, but in his rookie campaign his repertoire remained limited:

  • Sinker – 57.42%
  • Slider – 37.44%
  • Changeup – 4.67%
  • Fourseam Fastball – 0.47%

Singer only made it through at least 6.0 innings three times in his 12 starts. Did the limited pitch mix help cause the Royals to be more conservative with his usage? Possibly, though there’s a better chance that it was not wanting to overlook one of their top young pitchers.

Arguably the bigger question is whether or not he can continue to generate enough strikeouts. His 9.5% SwStr% and 29.4% O-Swing% do not give much hope for continued success, and his 15.21% Whiff% on his slider is hardly an elite mark.

Sure you can argue that an improvement in his home run rate (1.12 HR/9) would help to offset any regression in his strikeout rate, but that’s hardly enough. He wasn’t an elite groundball pitcher nor was he an elite control artist, and in regards to the former it’s not like he showed better upside in the minors in ’19 (50.9%).

Singer showed enough promise to land on radars for ’21, but not quite enough to consider him an obvious breakout candidate.

Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, Brooks Baseball

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