The Kansas City Royals need pitchers and the Rule 5 Draft might just have the options the team is looking for, especially in this groundball pitcher.
The Kansas City Royals are getting into the winter meetings and everything will hopefully start to take form for 2020. While it’s not expected that the team will make any big moves in the free agency, there is the possibility for a few pickups, especially to add to the bullpen.
One way the Royals will likely add some bullpen depth is through the Rule 5 Draft. They typically add a player or two through the Rule 5 and sometimes they work out, sometimes they don’t. Fortunately, the cost of adding a player this way is relatively low, making the overall “risk” (if there is any) low as well.
This year, there are a lot of interesting pitchers that are available and a couple that the Royals should be seriously considering. One of these players is Sterling Sharp. Sharp has been part of the Nationals organization since they drafted him in 2016 and he has impressed in his minor league time there.
In his time in the minors from 2016-2019, Sharp has put up good numbers and fought to make his claim. Over 378.1 innings pitched, he holds a 3.71 ERA, has 290 strikeouts, and 95 walks.
While Sharp isn’t going to strike out every batter he sees, he has one statistic that sets him apart from others, his groundball rate. Sharp’s groundball percentage consistently sits in the 60 percent range, rarely reaching down into the ’50s.
While his strikeout rate isn’t always high (floats from around 6-9.00 SO9), his ability to keep the ball on the ground and control the game makes up for it and make him an interesting option for the Royals to look at.
Sharp has been primarily used as a starter in his time with the Nationals organization, but this is something else the Royals could look to change. Sharp is one of those players who has played up to the AA level but hasn’t spent time any higher. While there is a slight chance it could work, throwing him directly into a major league starting role is probably not the best route to take.
Sharp’s progress could likely be sped up if in a relief specific role and then if he shows the ability, he could be slowly acclimated to the starting rotation; think Brad Keller. Keller came to the Royals and hadn’t made it above AA. He started lights out in the bullpen and stepped up to start in a time of need. Sharp could easily be a similar story and another groundball pitcher like Keller added to the team.
No matter how the coming days playout for the Royals, the fact remains that they need to find a way to add some strength and depth to the bullpen. While there are a lot of free-agent options, if the team continues their typical strategy of high-risk reclamation projects, the Rule 5 options might be the better route to take.