While many are content with the minor league pitchers expected to join the KC Royals, the addition of another strong arm would be welcomed.
The excitement of having the quintet of Brady Singer, Daniel Lynch, Jackson Kowar, Kris Bubic, and Jonathan Bowlan with the KC Royals soon tickles the fancy of many fans. With that wealth of pitching, it’s assumed that the team is set in that department. Let me be the Debbie Downer – or Captain Obvious – and point out the pitching last year was pretty atrocious.
No starter had an ERA lower than 4.19 and six of them were at 5.22 or higher. The bullpen was not much better as only three hurlers who tossed more than 20 frames were under 4.00. Overall, the team ERA was 5.20 and a collective WHIP of 1.48. To say Kansas City is good with their pitchers would be gross negligence.
Hancock was a dominating pitcher in a tough conference
Emerson Hancock, a right-hander from the University of Georgia, was an out machine in his sophomore year with the Bulldogs. In 14 starts he was 8-3 with a minuscule 1.99 ERA – the best for a UGA player in over 40 years. He struck out 97 in 90 1/3 innings, produced a 0.84 WHIP, and held batters to a .185 average.
Despite the uptick of opponents in the SEC, he actually improved with an ERA against those teams of just 1.69. Hancock was named Second Team All-American by several different outlets and was also dubbed First Team All-SEC.
In 2020, he had two rough starts and two nearly perfect ones — which ultimately ended with a team-leading 34 strikeouts in just 24 frames with only three walks surrendered. His last start before baseball was shutdown saw Hancock go 7 1/3 innings with 12 punchouts, no walks and only three hits surrendered.
Reasons the KC Royals could pass on this pitcher
As mentioned above, there were two outings in which Hancock gave up four earned runs or more. That that only occurred once the entire 2018 season. Had he been able to play a full slate of games this spring it would have been clear if those were just hiccups of early-season games or signs of a potential problem. Keith Law has a theory on what may have caused the issues.
"Law pointed out the lack of changeup usage as one of the reasons for allowing 10 earned runs on 22 hits over 24 innings. –bleacherreport.com"
The Royals have many needs going into this draft including outfield and catcher. The team might look to address those first and try to land another arm in the comp pick round.
How Hancock could break in with the KC Royals
Just like the young prospects mentioned at the top of this article, Hancock could move swiftly through the minor leagues and be knocking at the door of the Royals sooner rather than later. Kansas City would have options to move two or three of the pitchers into relievers, solving multiple problems with these hurlers.
With the sad state of affairs in the pitching department, Hancock would be a welcomed addition to battle for a spot on the roster as soon as 2022, if not getting a look in 2021. He is viewed as the best RHP in the draft by most experts and draws comparisons to Casey Mize, the Detroit Tigers’ first pick in the 2018 draft.
There are many areas that need tending to in the Royals’ player development garden. Hancock could quickly blossom and shore up a depleted pitching department.