Per Jeffrey Flanagan, Kansas City Royals first round pick Ashe Russell has made tremendous strides in his confidence on the mound.
The Kansas City Royals took Ashe Russell as the 21st overall selection out of high school back in 2015. He was considered as the best prep pitching prospect in the class. After throwing over two innings in 2016 he stepped away from the game.
At the end of the 2015 season he was the teams number two prospect on MLB Pipeline, boasting two plus pitches. As pointed out by Flanagan, Russell was suffering was what was once known as Steve Blass Disease.
Without a doubt, to even be at his point is a huge accomplishment for Russell.
Steve Blass was a pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and in short he got the yips. It became exceedingly hard for him to throw strikes with no explanation as to why. Other notable cases are players like Chuck Knoblauch, Steve Sax, and Mackey Sasser.
For Russell he hit two batters and walked two batters in his two innings of work in 2016. It is amazing to hear the news that he is ready to come back and compete. Even if he never puts on a Kansas City Royals uniform, the fact that he has put in the work and believes he can overcome the issue is a huge accomplishment.
As far as expectations go it is hard to say. They should not be all too high, but if the 22 year old is in the right mindset he could surprise people. MLB Pipeline graded him with a plus fastball that could top out at 97 MPH, to go along with a plus slider.
Russell drew a comp to Clay Buchholz back in the day, and most of that hinged on his ability to develop a changeup. His natural ability and athleticism likely did not go away. However, until he pitches against live competition we will not know what to expect.
Like Flanagan said, this is a good thing for both Russell and the Kansas City Royals. If the team sees something they like, the 22 year old former first rounder will get his shot at a dream again. He is going for a minor league assignment that would likely be in the rookie leagues.
Still young enough to make something of himself, I wish nothing but the best for Russell as he tries a comeback. It could not have been easy to get back to where he is, and he deserves nothing but respect for what he is doing.