The KC Royals made a surprise move on Friday with the addition of a little known pitcher to the 40-man roster. Here is more to know about the prospect.
There were expected additions and subtractions to the 40-man roster as clubs were required to make moves in order to prepare for the Rule 5 draft. One addition, Angel Zerpa, was not a name on the radar but we explore why the KC Royals opted to protect him.
Just 21 years of age, Zerpa has been with the organization since he was 17. Born in Valle de la Pascua, Venezuela, Zerpa was a franchise international signing back in 2016.
He has shown great growth during his three professional seasons increasing his strikeouts per nine innings from 5.5 in 2017 to 8.9 in 2019. His career WHIP is 1.08 and he has only allowed 11 home runs in 168 professional innings.
To date, all of his playing time has come in Rookie-league level ball although 2020 would have likely seen a promotion to at least Single-A if not more. Zerpa attended fall camp in Arizona instead of Kansas City signaling he is not knocking on the door of the big leagues yet, but the Royals felt if they did not add him he would be plucked away by another team.
He ended the ’19 season strong allowing zero earned runs in 15 innings during his last four appearances for the Burlington Royals. During the month of August which includes those final outings, his slash allowed was .149/.208/.239.
One out of every four hitters struck out against Zerpa and against left-handed hitters he was filthy only allowing a .384 OPS. He was a key part of the championship club in Burlington taking the bump in the first round of the playoffs pitching five strong frames, striking out seven, and only allowing one hit.
More encouraging stats including a groundball to flyball ratio of 1.44 with the B-Royals indicating good sinking action. He was good at controlling the running game stranding nearly 78% of the opposition on base and picking off three baserunners.
While Zerpa may not have been a known commodity to many of those who support the KC Royals, it is fairly evident why they felt the need to protect him. He could be another key element to the team achieving success in the next few years.