The Kansas City Royals are a team going through a rebuild and there are holes throughout the roster, though the most glaring need is in the starting rotation. Whenever the season starts the five-man rotation is expected to be:
- Brad Keller
- Danny Duffy
- Jakob Junis
- Mike Montgomery
- Jorge Lopez
While there is some upside do any of the names elicit much hope? It’s the next crop of pitchers who could get us excited, with names like Daniel Lynch and Kris Bubic coming quickly. However it’s Jackson Kowar who could get an opportunity in 2020.
Kowar isn’t on the 40-man roster, which could hurt his opportunity to arrive in 2020. However he was expected to make his debut, after splitting time between High-A (74.0 IP) and Double-A (74.1 IP) last season and pitching well along the way. The 33rd overall selection in the 2018 draft posted the following numbers last season:
3.52 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 8.74 K/9, 2.61 BB/9
While the strikeout rate isn’t going to blow you away, his 12.9% SwStr% would support a better mark. The question is whether or not his repertoire will play in the rotation or if a move to the bullpen will be necessary. Here’s how MLB.com described his arsenal:
- Changeup – “His mid-80s plus-plus changeup is his best pitch, thrown with excellent deception and arm speed as well as tumbling and fading action that makes it a swing-and-miss weapon against hitters on both sides of the plate.” Just adding to the appeal of the pitch, Baseball America described it as “a lethal, plus-plus offering that comes at hitters in the mid-80s before falling through a trap door, drawing foolish swings and leaving opponents confounded”.
- Fastball – “He can run his fastball up to 97 mph, but he usually sits more in the 93-95 mph range with arm-side life and command that improved across his first full season.”
- Curveball – “Kowar has made similar gains in developing a curveball that could be at least average, throwing it with better spin and shape now than he did in college. “
It’s the development of his curveball that will be vital for his future success as he continues to advance. Baseball America also noted that his curveball could become an average offering, and if that comes to fruition the upside is obvious.
Sure we could point towards a 45.5% groundball rate as reason for a little bit of pessimism, but that’s a solid enough number to go with the other skills. The fact that he’s not on the 40-man roster and still has some developing to do in his arsenal does make it unlikely that he arrives in 2020 (even if the minor league season is cancelled). Still he’s a name worth monitoring due to the potential long-term upside.
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball America, MLB.com
Make sure to check out all of our 2020 prospect rankings: