As previously noted, the “fab-five” could all be in the same rotation one day.
Q: What pitches do you still feel need developing in order for you to become a successful major league pitcher?
A: Even though I feel like I now have 3 quality pitches, there’s always room to make them even better. This offseason, I want to continue to perfect the curveball I’ve added this year. And once I’m content with my curveball, then I’d love to add a 4th pitch in a cutter/slider type, similar to the one that Clayton Kershaw throws. Sure, I’ve heard the comps about the delivery and he’s a guy I’ve watched a lot of as I’ve developed, but I’d love to add that pitch to play off my current arsenal.
In terms of pitch usage, I’ve noticed that I’ve used both offspeed pitches much more frequently as the year has gone on. Just the other night in Game 3 against Salem, actually, I threw 40 curveballs out of the 96 total pitches I threw. If you were to tell me a year ago that I would throw that many in one game, then I probably just would have shaken my head and laughed. But I feel that just speaks on the ability I now have to mix my pitches and the confidence I have in that pitch alone that not too long ago was foreign to me.
Q: I am not sure if you are aware, but Royals fans are calling the 2018 first five selections (all pitchers) the “fab-five”. Is there any competition between you guys to outperform one another? And what would it mean to you to potentially all pitch in the same rotation one day for KC?
A: Of course. I think that’s what made this year a really successful one for not only us “five” but for the entire system as a whole. We’re all college guys so we all have a lot of experience under our belts. And we’re all fierce competitors. When we’re out there on the mound, we each want to be the best one on the field that day. So if one of us goes 6 shutout innings and strikes out 10, then the next guy wants to go 7 shutout and strike out 12.
We’ve fed off each other’s success and have been able to pick each other’s brains as well. That’s the crazy thing too: we’re all completely different pitchers. We get our outs and attack hitters in different ways based on our strengths and weaknesses. So it’s really fun to just watch how everyone has just gone about their routines on a daily basis, and maybe pick up on something or ask about something specific here and there.
In terms of the future, it’s bright. There’s no doubt about that. It’d be an honor to all get the opportunity to pitch in KC one day let alone at the same time. But I think as long as we continue to take care of business on our end, the rest will take care of itself.
Q: Did you realize that you led all of minor league baseball in strikeouts this season? And what do you think made you so successful in obtaining such a high number of K’s?
A: Over the last month or so, I realized that I was up there in strikeouts, so I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t notice it at all. I think the K’s come from a couple of things: 1) being consistent every time out. In between starts, I kept my routines consistent throughout the whole year so I knew how my body would feel and how my arm would feel come game day. 2) getting ahead of hitters. If you just look at the general statistics, 69% of strikeouts start with first-pitch strikes.
I’ve noticed in the games where I don’t have too many K’s are the games when I’m behind in the count a good amount. Get ahead and stay ahead. 3) mentality. This is where I‘m able to separate myself from most pitchers. When I get to 2 strikes, I’m able to, essentially, tap into another gear.
Whether it’s reaching back for a little extra on a fastball, making a changeup dance a little bit more, or getting a little extra bite on my curveball, I basically go into “kill mode” when I get to 2 strikes.
A special thank you to Kris (@KrisBubic) for taking the time to speak with me about his 2019 season. We can’t wait to see you pitch at the K!