The KC Royals have a mass of pitching potential within their organization and soon, many of them will make their way to the majors.
For the KC Royals, this offseason will bring a lot of questions, analysis, and likely some movement. There are players who are learning new positions, some who need to better learn the position they already play, and the chance that prospects will get more looks or a free agent will come into the organization.
What may be the most daunting task for the Royals this year and in the next few could be having to sort through all of the pitching prospects the team has somehow managed to collect.
The Royals have been heavy on drafting pitchers for a few years now, especially college arms. After years of inconsistencies among the pitching staff, it seems the Royals are looking to change that narrative.
The Royals youth movement started during the 2020 season with pitchers Brady Singer and Kris Bubic getting innings as starters, and even Tyler Zuber finding innings in the bullpen. It continued through the season and plenty of young players all around the field got their chance to play.
It’s likely this will continue and it should. The Royals have plenty of talent in the minors, it’s time to see what they can provide.
Often, the pitching talks go to players like Singer and Bubic, along with Daniel Lynch, Jackson Kowar, and now Asa Lacy. While he is mentioned at times, one pitching prospect that might not always jump to the front of the list is Jonathan Bowlan.
Bowlan is the Royals 9th ranked prospect in MLB’s prospect rankings, and he was one of the many college arms taken by the Royals in the 2018 draft. While the highest level at which he has pitched is A+, he may move through the system quickly.
Had there been a minor league season in 2020, it’s easy to believe that Bowlan would have been at AA, and possibly even ended at AAA. Bowlan struggled in the rookie league during his first innings with the Royals organization but turned it around when he jumped up to A and A+ baseball.
At Lexington (A), Bowlan held an ERA of 3.36 over 69.2 innings, and at Wilmington (A+) he was an even better 2.95 over 76.1 innings.
For 2019 as a whole, Bowlan pitched 146.0 innings with a 3.14 ERA, a win/loss of 11-5, struck out 150, and only walked 1.4 per 9. Also important to mention, Bowlan threw a no-hitter during his time at Wilmington, throwing 98 pitches over his 9 innings of work.
While the Royals may still want to see some more work from Bowlan before bringing him up, it’s likely he is not far from the majors. He is a big presence on the mound, standing at 6’6” and weighing in at 262 pounds according to his prospect page.
Bowlan has a good fastball, sitting in the mid 90s and touching the high 90s at times. His sinking movement allows him to have a good groundball rate, and while they still need some work, his slider and changeup could one day help him to be in the major league rotation.
Maybe the most important thing about Bowlan, though, is his control. The Royals have seen their share of pitchers who struggle with commanding the ball. Bowlan’s control, fortunately, is one of his strong spots. His plus control allows him to keep his walks low, something the Royals need from a starting pitcher.
While there is still some work to be done, with the importance Kansas City has placed on young pitching, it wouldn’t be out of the question to see Bowlan in the majors during the next two seasons.
Jonathan Bowlan is an important prospect name to remember. While he may not have as much hype as others at times, he could become a future star in the Royals rotation.