We hear a lot about the Kansas City Royals wave of college pitchers working their way through the farm system. The focal point of the conversation is mostly centered around four pitchers. Let’s add another name to the conversation though.
Let’s start with the fact that the Royals having so many pitchers from one draft that have a legitimate chance of making an impact in the MLB is insane. With the Royals’ first four picks in the 2018 draft, they took college pitchers Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar from Florida, Daniel Lynch from Virginia, and Kris Bubic out of Stanford.
Singer (No.59) and Lynch (No.61) have cracked MLB’s Top-100 Prospects already, and Kowar is not far behind. Within the Royals Farm System, all four pitchers are on the team’s Top-6 prospects list. Therefore, it’s not surprising that they get a lot of publicity and have a lot of conversation centered around them when talking about the future of the Royals pitching.
The Royals “hidden” pitcher
It’s odd to think that the Royals could have a “hidden pitcher”, while still having him as a Top-10 prospect within their system. Jonathan Bowlan is doing everything right, though. He’s improved from his first year, and he’s improved as he’s moved up the system.
After being drafted and sent to Idaho Falls, Bowlan did struggle a bit. Over his nine starts, he posted a 6.94 ERA and had a 1.71 WHIP. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was just over 2.00, which is not ideal. However, in 2019, Bowlan came back and proved he was deserving of a second-round pick. While in Lexington, Bowlan had a 3.36 ERA and paired that with an impressive 0.93 WHIP and a solid strikeout-to-walk ratio at just over 7. This is why he got the promotion to Wilmington. In Wilmington, he only got better. His ERA dropped to 2.95 while his WHIP and his strikeout-to-walk ratio stayed about the same.
What more could you ask for a potential starting pitcher?
How he compares to the other four
Looking at this strictly from a statistical lense based on the entire 2019 season, Bowlan is actually one of the better starting pitching prospects the Royals have. After looking at how Singer, Kowar, Bubic, Lynch, and Bowlan did in many of the statistical categories, Bowlan spent most of his time towards the top.
- WHIP: 2nd with a 0.99 WHIP (Bubic was 1st with a 0.97 WHIP)
- ERA: 4th with a 3.14 ERA (only ahead of Kowar who had a 3.52 ERA)
- K/BB: 1st with a 6.52 K/BB (next closest was Bubic with a 4.40 K/BB)
- K/9: 2nd with a 9.2 K/9 (Bubic was 1st with an 11.2 K/9)
- BB/9: 1st with a 1.4 BB/9 (next closest was Singer with a 2.4 BB/9)
While Bowlan may not have the best “stuff” compared to the other pitchers, that doesn’t seem to matter when looking at the numbers. Here is what they said over at Baseball Savant about Bowlan’s “stuff”.
"He commands his plus fastball well, sitting at 92-95 mph and touching 97 with sinking action that nets him groundball outs. His low-80s slider will flash plus with tilt and sharp break to it, though he still needs to work on the consistency of the pitch. He has some feel for his changeup, giving him the chance for a third Major League offering. He pounds the zone with all three pitches and led Royals farmhands with a 6.52 strikeout-to-walk rate in his first full season, showing plus control with command that one day could earn a similar grade."
Bowlan is a pitcher Royals fans should be excited about. Based on year one to year two, it is hard to believe that Bowlan won’t continue making the adjustments necessary to improve. If he can improve his slider or changeup, he should push his name into that conversation on a more regular basis.
Depending on what this year looks like and whether or not we actually see Bowlan pitch any, he is someone we should keep our eyes on. If he continues where he left off, the Royals would actually have five starting pitchers from the 2018 MLB Draft that have a very realistic chance of making the big league rotation for the Royals.
What do you think Royals fans? Should we be talking about Bowlan more than we are? Let us know below!