Although a KC Royals pitcher has been to spring camp three times and is once again on the club’s major league roster, he’s never thrown a pitch in The Show. Will he this season?
He has the looks of a big league pitcher, has been invited to spring training three years in a row, and is on the KC Royals’ active roster for the third time this season.
But going into tonight’s game against the Brewers in Milwaukee, warming up in the bullpen is the closest Scott Blewett has come to pitching in a major league game.
Blewett, who at 6-6 and 245-pounds certainly features the build of a major league hurler, is a 24-year old veteran of six minor league seasons (not counting 2020) since the Royals picked him in the second round of the 2014 amateur draft. Although three trips to spring training and three call-ups this season suggest he’s more than a blip on the club’s radar, manager Mike Matheny has yet to use him.
Why may best be explained by circumstances rather than ability. The Royals first summoned Blewett to Kansas City Aug. 5 when Glenn Sparkman went on the Injured List; the club needed a pitcher quickly, and he was the choice before being returned to the alternate training site the next day to make room for starter Brad Keller after his Covid-19-related stay on the List.
That the KC Royals preferred Keller was logical and unsurprising.
The second call for Blewett came a little over a week later when, in need of a 29th man and extra pitcher for a doubleheader with Minnesota, the Royals moved him onto the active roster. He didn’t pitch in the twinbill and was sent out the next day. (The move came the same day Jakob Junis headed for the Injured List and also made room for Meibrys Viloria’s return to KC).
And now, Blewett finds himself on the major league roster again—in the latest of their yo-yoish 2020 transactions with him, the Royals recalled Blewett Wednesday (together with infielder Erick Mejia) when they sent the struggling Junis down and placed Matt Harvey on the IL.
With no doubleheader to play this weekend (just three games with the Brewers before the club heads home to end the season), there isn’t much of a reason to summon Blewett and then return him immediately to T-Bones Park, where the rest of Kansas City’s 60-man Player Pool works. So maybe Blewett will get his chance in Milwaukee.
It will be interesting if he does. The Royals clearly believed in him six years ago—if they hadn’t, he wouldn’t have been a second round pick, nor would the club have given him $1.8 million to sign right out of high school. But the numbers of his professional career, the entirety of it spent in the minors, reflect a pitcher who may not be quite ready to leave the bush leagues permanently behind.
His lowest pro ERA is 2.49, posted in 25.1 innings in the 2018 Arizona Fall League; his next best is a 3.55 effort in the same number of innings last season at Double A Northwest Arkansas. Blewett’s stint with the Naturals started in early August after Triple A hitters battered him for an average 9.07 runs per nine innings in his first experience at that level.
The 2.49 and 3.55 are Blewett’s only ERAs below 4.07, he’s 33-45 in the minors, and he gave up three runs in four Cactus League innings this season. To his pitching credit, however, he’s never exceeded 2.0 in WHIP, never had prolonged control problems, and reached double-digits in SO9 (12.1) for the first time at Northwest Arkansas last year.
Two things will make watching Blewett interesting if Matheny calls on him this weekend: the effect of some offseason work and how he looks after spending the last two months under the tutelage and close eyes of the club’s alternate site staff. Blewett worked over the winter on keeping his pitches down in the strike zone; and although the Royals, like other major league teams, cloak their alternate training sites in mystery and don’t provide much news about player performance, the club must believe he’s made progress.
Time—and the opportunity to pitch—will tell.
As of Thursday night, Blewett remained on the Royals’ roster. Considering the brevity of his first two call-ups this season, though, he may be back at the alternate training site by now. Let’s hope not; let’s hope he sees some action against the Brewers this weekend.
Scott Blewett has worked and waited a long time to pitch for the KC Royals. He could soon get his chance.