Royals MiLB: Could Josh Staumont Make Leap From AA To KC?
By John Viril
Royals no. 11 ranked prospect Josh Staumont overwhelmed the Arkansas Travelers in the regular season’s final game for AA NW Arkansas. Staumont went 6.0 innings while allowing 4 hits, 2 walks, and 0 earned runs with 12 strikeouts.
Josh Staumont’s dominant start helped the Naturals win 8-0 over Arkansas to maintain their one-game, second-half North Division lead over the Travelers. The victory put NW Arkansas in the Texas League playoffs.
Not only was it a big game for the Naturals, it also was the fourth consecutive start in which Staumont has allowed 2 walks. While that doesn’t sound overly impressive, Staumont is a guy that averaged 8.3 BB/9 in 73.0 innings pitched at High A Wilmington earlier this season. His 3.3 BB/9 in his last four starts represents a massive improvement in his control.
Control has been Staumont’s biggest problem his entire career. He has posted a career 7.5 BB/9 Since the KC Royals selected him in the second round of the 2015 draft. Staumont has terrific, ace-level stuff that could make him a major-league star if he can only develop average command.
Gifted with a mid 90’s fastball that averages in the high 90’s as a reliever, he also possesses a sharp curve and split-fingered change-up. He was the hardest thrower in NCAA division I baseball in 2015 for Azuza Pacific University. However, even against collegiate-level competition, he walked 5.1 hitters every nine innings.
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Thus, four straight AA starts in which he walked two batters per game is a significant breakthrough for Staumont. Not only did he limit walks, Staumont pitched 22.0 innings in those four starts. That’s quite an improvement for a guy that was averaging less than five innings per outing. Over that span, he held opponents to a 1.63 ERA with an absurd 13.9 K/9.
According to Baseball America, the Royals have tweaked Staumont’s delivery to more of an over-the-top motion. Staumont has long struggled to repeat his mechanics. Perhaps this adjustment has helped his control. The KC Royals can only hope.
Could Staumont Make The Leap To Kansas City?
Staumont will pitch for NW Arkansas in the Texas League playoffs. The Royals indicated they will send him to the Surprise Sagueros of the Arizona Fall League at the end of the Texas League season. But, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to see Staumont get the call to Kansas City.
Matt Strahm also made the jump from the Naturals rotation to the Royals bullpen this season. Strahm has dominated with a 0.57 ERA, but the team is strictly limiting his innings. Perhaps Staumont’s control breakthrough could make him similarly useful in Kansas City.
On the other hand, asking Staumont to get the ball over the plate against major-league hitters might be pushing the 22-year-old too far, too fast. The other problem is that the front office would need to add Staumont to the 40-man roster. I expect the KC Royals to stick to their plan of sending him to the instructional league in Arizona.
Next: KC Bullpen Chokes Again In 6-5 Loss To Tigers
Keep an eye on Josh Staumont, Kansas City Royals fans. He could become a dark horse candidate to help the Royals rotation in 2017 if he continues his recent progress in the AFL.