Royals: Team should be patient with top pitching prospects

Photo by Brian Davidson/Getty Images
Photo by Brian Davidson/Getty Images /

It’ll be tempting for the Kansas City Royals to promote their top four pitching prospects to the major leagues as soon as possible. Patience is key, though.

This should be common knowledge, but the 2020 version of the Kansas City Royals will not be a contender. As much as we’d like it to be, the chips simply aren’t going to fall that way.

With that said, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a ton to look forward to throughout the year. The return of Salvador Perez, the make-or-break seasons that players like Ryan O’Hearn, Brett Phillips and Bubba Starling are facing and the uncertainty of the pitching staff are all interesting developments. Back to that pitching staff, though…

The Royals should not call up their top pitching prospects before they’re ready.

Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar, Daniel Lynch and Kris Bubic were all top-40 picks in the 2018 MLB Draft. All four have performed well to this point in the Royals’ minor league system and could all join the MLB club in the near future. The organization had a rough patch when it came to scouting pitching talent before that draft, so there’s a lot of pressure on this group to succeed.

Singer and Kowar were both selected out of the University of Florida. Both righties were promoted to AA Northwest Arkansas in 2019, posting solid numbers overall. Singer still appears to be the best minor league pitcher the Royals have, as his 3.47 ERA in 90.2 innings with the Naturals may indicate he’s ready for a promotion to AAA. Although Kowar’s 2-7 record on the same team looks bad peripherally, a 3.51 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 74.1 innings paint a much better picture.

Lynch and Bubic are a bit further behind than the other two, but are still right on schedule in the grand scheme. Both should spend the majority of their 2020 seasons with NWA. The pair of lefties offer another set of starting arms for the Royals to look forward to.

Alright, let’s say all four players continue to pitch well in the minor leagues. Let’s also say the Royals struggle to win games this season. The latter is more of a lock than the former, but both are strong possibilities. Should Kansas City fold and call up Singer and/or Kowar to come to the rescue?

Probably not. While it’d be a great sign development-wise that one or more of the “Fab Four” was ready to pitch at the major league level, that should be the only motive behind a potential promotion. Putting a young pitcher’s confidence, one of the most highly-regarded things in all of baseball, at risk just to win an extra couple of games isn’t worth it.

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Should Singer and Kowar come out firing and prove too advanced for Double-A, bump them up a level to Triple-A. The same goes for Lynch and Bubic, who are no slouches themselves. The Royals’ contention window won’t open for at least another year or two, though, so there shouldn’t be any expedition labels placed on these players’ journeys to the MLB.