Alec Marsh flies under the radars of many, but the KC Royals’ pitching prospect may soar up the rankings with another solid performance in 2020.
Brief aside: I was a student at Arizona State University for a year. Studying at the prestigious Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in Phoenix was an awesome experience. While in the sports journalism program, I quickly started to follow ASU athletics. When the KC Royals selected former Sun Devil Alec Marsh in the second round of last year’s draft, my eyes lit up.
Before I could even reach out to some of my friends who were covering the ASU baseball team at the time, my phone dinged a few times. My friends put Marsh on my radar initially. In 13 starts with Idaho Falls last year, the right-hander struck out 38 hitters while walking just four. That’ll play.
I then spoke with to the same people in March of this year to see if their opinions had changed at all. The responses I garnered were pretty consistent:
- “He gets on the mound and it’s just him and the catcher playing catch.”
- “His ceiling is like a No. 3 starter.”
- “He gets strikeouts at a decent rate and doesn’t really have a bad flaw.”
- “He’s a pitcher, not a thrower.”
Marsh is a low-ceiling, high-floor prospect. He was ranked No. 20 on the MLB Pipeline top 30 list for the KC Royals ahead of 2019 and comes in at No. 22 this year. That definitely isn’t his fault, it’s more so a testament to the ever-improving farm system the organization has. Here are some scenarios for Marsh moving forward:
Marsh continues to build on the dominant control he showed in 2019. His fastball, albeit unspectacular, continues to be good enough to be his best pitch while the other three improve. He matures well and joins the MLB club in late 2021 or early 2022 with the flexibility to become a dominant long reliever or a solid starter in the middle of the rotation.
Because Marsh is already solid, he doesn’t have as much room to grow as some other prospects. As he advances through the minor leagues, that could come back to bite him. The hitters get better at each level and by the time Marsh reaches AA or AAA, the talent gap may close completely and he might turn into just another run-of-the-mill pitcher.
The stuff isn’t quite good enough. The control is nothing more than average. He doesn’t have a go-to trait nor pitch. That’s far from a recipe for success at the MLB level.
Most likely outcome:
If you’re looking for a finished product and a safe bet as a prospect, you’d be hard-pressed to find one in the minor leagues. Marsh is relatively close to being that, though. As he works to fine-tune his curveball and changeup and potentially fill out his frame a bit, he should round into form as a pitcher. MLB Pipeline lists his ETA as 2022, which seems accurate. He joins the rest of the talented young pitchers the KC Royals have and becomes a staple in the back half of the rotation.
Having a reliable starting five in baseball is one of the greatest advantages a team can have. Alec Marsh should help turn that dream into a reality in a few years.