Royals: Catching up with pitching prospect Zach Haake

KC Royals, Top moments of September (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
KC Royals, Top moments of September (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

Kings of Kauffman recently chatted with the Kansas City Royals’ sixth-round pick from 2018, Zach Haake. Below are some questions and answers from our interview!

As the Kansas City Royals attempt to rebuild retool after several disappointing seasons in a row, the development of prospects is going to be as critical as ever. With many expecting a return to competitive baseball as soon as 2021 or 2022, time is ticking.

Right-hander Zach Haake could be a part of that future. The 2018 sixth-round selection breezed through his first few challenges before posting a 2.85 ERA with the Lexington Legends in 2019. That’s nothing to scoff at, as Haake struck out 90 in 75.2 innings of work. Over the last two years, he’s been a key cog in the machine that is the Royals minor league system. We recently had the chance to ask Zach a few questions. His answers are below.

Q: You had kind of a tough final year at Kentucky. 8.47 ERA in 6 starts (15 appearances). Are you able to attribute those struggles to anything in particular?

A: Yes, I didn’t have a great start to the year. I broke my hand in an accidental fall and it set me back. Once I came back, it took me a little bit of time to get into a rhythm. My timing was off and I was not attacking the strike zone. At the time my fastball felt great, but I had a hard time finding my secondary pitches.

Q: The Royals selected you in the 6th round of the 2018 MLB Draft, what was it like for you to hear your name called given what transpired in the spring?

"A: It was surreal. Playing professional baseball has always been a dream of mine since I was young and hearing my name called on that day was something I’ll never forget."

Q: Since being drafted, you been mostly a starter and a darn good one at that. How have you been able to find success so early coming up through the minors?

A: Following the draft, I worked a lot with Pitching Coach Mark Davis on my mechanics and developing my off-speed pitches. I also think playing in the SEC at the University of Kentucky helped prepare me for professional baseball.

Q: You were terrific all year long for Single-A Lexington with a 2.85 ERA in 18 starts. What pitches seemed to work well for you during your starts and did you have a go-to pitch when you needed an out?

A: For the majority of my starts, my fastball/changeup combination worked really well. When I was in a jam or needed an out, I went to my changeup. This year I felt I was able to locate and throw my changeup in any count, which really helped keep the hitters off balance and off my fastball.

Q: Can you walk us through the two playoff starts you made for Lexington during their

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championship? A 1.74 ERA in 10.1 IP with an opponents’ batting average of 0.167 is incredible.

A: We knew going in that both Augusta and Hickory were going to be tough matchups. During both playoff starts, I was able to throw three pitches for strikes and locate my fastball. The biggest key for me during our playoff run was to go out and give our team a chance to win.

Q: What pitches do you feel still need some developing and have you been able to use any technology to assist you in doing so?

A: I would say my main focus this offseason is developing my slider. I am also looking to improve my fastball command. I’ll be relying a lot on Rapsodo and Edgertronic to help in my development.

Next. Making the case for free agency, Reds edition. dark

We’d like to send out a huge thank you to Zach Haake (@zach_haake) for taking some time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. We’ll be rooting for you out on the diamond!