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.
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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!