While it was great that Josh Staumont got off to a hot start this spring training for the KC Royals, historical data tells us to temper expectations.
Even though it was spring training, to see a pitcher toss an “immaculate inning” (three strikeouts on nine pitches) is still an impressive feat. Throw in the fact that Josh Staumont hit 102 mph on the radar gun and you saw the internet explode with grand predictions.
Reviewing the last few seasons of minor league action and a handful of games with the KC Royals tells us that Staumont still has much to prove, however. The live arm and touching triple digits every once in a while has always been there. Throwing strikes and making batters miss hitting the fastball has been harder for him to do.
From 2015 to 2019, the strikeout to walk ratio is 1.68 in the minors. That is not because of a low amount of K’s, but too many bases on balls. Staumont struck out over 11.7 batters per nine innings but also walked 7.0 per nine frames.
In an admittedly small sample since he has only appeared in 16 big league games, we can see areas of concern with the fastball. Even if it is thrown at 100 mph (his average FB velocity was 95.9 mph), major league hitters are paid money to smack these pitches. His fastball is below average in vertical movement and only breaks 1.3 inches horizontally which is almost six inches less than other pitchers. Basically once hitters can time it there is little concern of where the ball is going.
This is clear when you see that Staumont allowed a .275 batting average and .475 slugging percentage when contact was made on the fastball. Big league hitters also only swung and missed at the pitch 15.4% of time.
Not to say that it is time to give up on the 26-year-old right hander. If he can learn to move the fastball around and cut down on walks that will be a big step. There is also good news when you review the results when he throws a curve ball. This pitch recorded 12 of his 15 strikeouts while with the KC Royals and held batters to a .214 average. Many hitters struggled to make contact as the curve generated a whiff 43.2% of the time.
Hopefully Staumont can build on this performance and be in contention for a roster spot when it comes down to deciding who to send to Kauffman in late March. Until then though, lets see if he consistently throws strikes and keeps hitters guessing before we put pressure on him to be a major contributor in Kansas City.