The KC Royals are taking a long look at their bullpen options for 2020, and their Rule 5 pick is wanting to make sure he gets a spot.
When the KC Royals took Stephen Woods Jr. from the Tampa Bay Rays in the Rule 5 draft, there were a lot of unknowns surrounding the young pitcher. Now, its time for him to prove that the team was correct in making him their only pick.
Now that spring training has taken off, the Royals are getting a decent look at the players who will make their way through Kauffman in 2020. For many of these players, they still have time, minor league options, and years to grow and develop into major league players. For some, their time may be running short.
While Woods has never seen major league time, he has a risk of his time running short, at least his time with the Royals. As a Rule 5 pick, the Royals must keep him on the 26-man roster for the 2020 season, or offer him back to the team that he came from. There is a chance he could return to the Royals minor league system, but only if Tampa Bay didn’t want him back.
Woods may feel more pressure than many other players during spring training, but that’s because his chance at continued major league time could be taken away at any time if the Royals don’t feel he is an option for the 26-man.
Luckily for Woods, he has started spring training exactly as he needs to. Over the two games he has appeared in, he pitched 3 innings with 1 strikeout, walked 2, given up 2 hits, but only allowed one run.
While this line might not sound the best, mainly the walks, one thing must be remembered about Woods, the highest level at which he has played baseball is single A. It’s not uncommon for Rule 5 picks to have limited experience, but to make the jump from A ball to the majors is not easy for anyone, especially as a pitcher.
Along with his decent line, Woods has also had a chance to face major league batters, such as Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer who he saw in Monday’s game against the Padres. Both batters flew out, and Woods closed out the inning shortly after, giving up 1 run over 2 innings.
There is still a lot to be seen, especially as spring training moves forward, but at the moment, Woods is doing exactly what he needs to do to show the Royals were correct to take him as their Rule 5 pick.