Kansas City Royals Scott Alexander Could Be Their LOOGY

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Sep 22, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Scott Alexander (54) delivers a pitch in the eighth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Kauffman Stadium. Seattle won 11-2. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 22, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Scott Alexander (54) delivers a pitch in the eighth inning against the Seattle Mariners at Kauffman Stadium. Seattle won 11-2. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /
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Scott Alexander looks the part of a lefty-specialist. And he actually does get lefties out.

As the Kansas City Royals enter Spring Training, Kings of Kauffman will release a series of articles on the 25-man roster. We will be going through each individual player, including the locks, bubble players, and a few prospects. We will progress through the roster from the top down, starting with the rotation.

So far, we have looked at Yordano Ventura, Edinson Volquez, Ian KennedyChris Young, Danny Duffy, Kris MedlenMike MinorLuke Hochevar, and Brian Flynn.

Today, we will be looking at Scott Alexander

All statistics provided by Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, and Brooks Baseball

"2015 stats – 0-0, 4.50 ERA,  3 SO, 3 BB, 6.0 IP | 2-3, 2.56 ERA, 50 SO, 17 BB, 63.1 IP (Triple-A Omaha)2016 Steamer – 2-2, 3.91 ERA ERA, 30 SO, 16 BB, 40.0 IP, 4.24 FIP"

Projected Role – Middle Reliever/LOOGY (Left-handed One-Out GuY

2015 Results

2015 could actually be argued as Scott Alexander’s best full season as a pro. He posted a career high in innings at any single level, while posting the lowest ERA of any season in which he threw more than 40 innings.

He was rewarded for his success, getting first cup of coffee at the Major League level in September. Alexander matched two good performances (1.0 IP, 1 SO, 0 ER; 3.0 IP, 1 SO, 0 ER) with two rough performances (1.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER; 1.0 IP, 2 BB, 1 ER) in his four appearances.

What we did see from Alexander in 2015, namely in his stint at Triple-A Omaha, was his continued ability to get left-handers out. Over his 63.1 IP for the Storm Chasers in 2015, Alexander allowed just 12 hits to lefties, holding them to a .149 BAA. This is a continued trend. For his (minor league) career, lefties are hitting just .185 off of Alexander.

He can pump it a little, averaging just under 94 MPH on his two-seam fastball in 2015.

Coming out of high school, Alexander was actually a legitimate prospect because of his live arm. Here’s what John Manuel of Baseball America had to say about Alexander back in 2007.

"Alexander is left-handed and athletic, throwing harder as a senior than he did previously, and signed to Pepperdine. While the Waves have a shot at keeping Alexander, a good student, his athletic ability might be too much for teams to pass on…Alexander has touched 93 mph and was sitting in the 89-92 mph range with his fastball. He has excellent arm speed and a smooth delivery, and the ball jumps out of his hand…Alexander was getting crosschecked regularly, which indicates he could get popped in the first three rounds."

That comes from California’s 2007 high school prospect rankings and, interestingly enough, Alexander came in at #24, right in front of Mike Stanton, at #25. You probably know him as Giancarlo Stanton, these days. I’m sure you also noticed that Mike Moustakas was at #2.

Manuel also went on to talk about Alexander’s “tight slider” which had shown “flashes” during his senior year.

In Kansas City, Alexander was exclusively a fastball-slider pitcher, each of which were effective. Although he only threw six innings, both his fastball and slider posted positive values (0.8 and 0.7, respectively).

2016 Outlook

If the Royals lack one thing in their bullpen, it is a lefty specialist. They haven’t really had one in years, to be honest. Will Smith was effective against lefties, especially in 2013, but he wasn’t a specialist by any means. 2007 Jimmy Gobble comes to mind (my gosh), but he was not all that effective in that role.

The Royals haven’t really needed that lefty specialist over the last few years, and the argument could be made that the role isn’t really needed. Kansas City’s lack of a legitimate lefty-killer has proved that.

The Oliver Perez experiment in last year’s ALDS didn’t work (to no fault of his own, really). He was a LOOGY to the utmost extent of the role, getting wrecked by RHH (.410 OBP in 15.2 IP) while wrecking LHH (.194 BAA in 25.1 IP), but he gave up, arguably, the biggest hit of that series against the one guy he was expected to get out.

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However, it certainly wouldn’t hurt if the Royals had a guy in that bullpen that could get left-handers out consistently. Even though Hosmer wound up getting the hit off of Perez, he did exactly what he wanted to do and Hosmer obliged. Perez got Hosmer to chase a bad slider. Nine times out of ten, that results in an out, and the Royals probably don’t win the World Series.

I don’t think that the Royals consistently need a guy to come in for one batter, to record one out. But would it hurt to have a guy like that in your back pocket? Not at all.

With all that being said, Alexander has shown that he can get lefties out consistently in the minor leagues. The question is whether that will translate to the bigs.

With the Royals bullpen being a juggernaut, I don’t anticipate Ned Yost going to Alexander late in close games to get a left-hander out. That’s what you have Kelvin Herrera, Joakim Soria, and Wade Davis for.

If Alexander can get lefties out consistently, I do think that they will at least have that option.

Next: Brian Flynn Is A Long-Term Investment

If they don’t use him, fine. He can be middle reliever that chews up whatever innings the rotation and AL killing machine don’t.

Either way, it never hurts to have lefties in your bullpen. That’s why Alexander will more than likely be on the roster for Opening Day.

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