A later round grab by the KC Royals on a right-handed pitcher from Oklahoma State saw his stock rise significantly after the 2019 season.
Welcome back to the Kings of Kauffman “Projecting the Prospects” series. For each KC Royals’ top 30 prospects, we review the best, worst, and most likely scenarios.
After two seasons with the Cowboys including his best start of the season in his last college appearance, the KC Royals picked up Jon Heasley in the 13th round of the 2018 MLB Amateur Draft.
Heasley’s numbers were not overly impressive that last year in the NCAA sporting a 5.96 ERA and WHIP of 1.64. He did induce 79 strikeouts in just 80 innings of work showing the ability to cause hitters to swing and miss.
To finish 2018 he stopped in Idaho Falls and pitched in 12 games with 11 of those being starts. Major strides occurred last year with the Lexington Legends which included having the second best ERA (3.22) and opponents’ batting average (.222). Heasley was key to helping the Legends bring home the South Atlantic League title.
Being named Lexington’s Pitcher of the Year was the icing on the cake of the 2019 campaign. He jumped from not being on the list in 2018 to the #23 prospect overall for the Royals.
Heasley could join fellow 2018 pitching studs Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar, Daniel Lynch and Kris Bubic as key members of the Royals pitching staff in the near future. He will need to prove himself at the Double-A level and will probably stay in the minors for the next couple of seasons.
If he continues to pitch at the level in did last year he will make the Kansas City franchise give him an opportunity to show his stuff in the big leagues. He has four pitches and can confuse batters by mixing that variety in different counts. Most likely date of arrival at Kauffman Stadium would be in 2022 but if he plows through hitters in 2020 and early 2021 that could get bumped up. A #4 or #5 solid starter.
The control problems that plagued him college return. At OK State he was walking around four and a half batters per innings. He has reduced that by roughly a hitter and a half in pro ball which has been a big key to success. If the free passes become an issue then Triple-A would be the ceiling.
Most likely outcome:
Heasley should see the majors at some point but he will be battling against other great young arms the KC Royals have drafted recently. That would delay his debut until 2023 or 2024 and he could be a trade piece if the team is in a playoff hunt and needs to pick up a proven player to make a run. He would be a tempting addition to a team looking for a young hurler.
The minor leagues will be full of potentially great talent to watch the next couple of seasons. The league Mid-Season All-Star, POY award and tremendous improvement in performance from the prior year points to Heasley continuing the appear on the top 30 list.