The Kansas City Royals may have found their closer of the future in Brandon Marklund, who was sensational during Lexington’s championship run.
Originally signed as an undrafted free agent, Brandon Marklund started his professional baseball career in the Australian Baseball League as a 22-year old. The Vancouver native played his collegiate ball at Bryan College and primarily was a starter during his tenure there. In 2018, Marklund made 14 starts (18 appearances) and tossed 65.0 innings with 55 strikeouts, 30 walks and allowed 9 home runs, all to the tune of a lackluster 5.54 ERA.
Coming from Bryan College is tough enough to get scouts to look at you, but putting up those numbers is a good way to go undrafted so Marklund decided to pursue professional baseball with the Auckland Tuatara team. They utilized him as a reliever and he flourished in that role, making 14 appearances and tossing 19.2 innings to go along with 15 strikeouts and a 2.29 ERA.
The Royals took a flyer on him in January and was assigned to Single-A Lexington. Now 23, Marklund was phenomenal this year for the Legends. He made 24 appearances and tossed 39.1 innings while striking out 44 batters, walking 19, and allowing opponents to bat just 0.162 off him. He was 6-for-7 in save opportunities and continued to impressed during the Legends’ League Championship run.
Marklund made 4 appearances, converted all 3 of his saves while tossing 9.0 innings and striking out 6 batters. He didn’t allow any runs and held opponents to an absurd 0.069 batting average. What’s really encouraging about Marklund is that he has shown the ability to pitch more than one inning on several occasions and still continued to dominate batters.
The Royals pursued him heavily after the Australian League was done for the year and that’s ultimately what made him choose to sign with the team:
"“But the Royals showed a lot of interest, and that they cared about what I had to offer. And I thought that, out of all the teams that were interested in me, the Royals were the best fit.”“And I’ve noticed in the five months since I’ve signed with them, that my intuition was right about them. It’s a great organization. They’ve helped a ton with my development. I’ve had some of the best coaches I’ve ever had in my life, here. They care about players as people; all the staff, too, not just the management.” – NSNews"
We’ll see where Marklund begins the 2020 season but as a reliever, he could move up quickly if he continues to dominate batters the way he has. I’d like to see him cut down on the number of walks, but he’s my pick to be the Royals’ closer of the future with Ian Kennedy under contract only through the end of next season.
The Royals need to get back to having a dominant bullpen that helped carry them to back-to-back World Series appearances in 2014 and 2015 and Marklund could be the perfect back of the ‘pen type of guy.