The KC Royals should be heavy in the Rule 5 draft with multiple 40 man roster spots open. There are lots of options, but pitchers stand out.
The KC Royals aren’t hurting for pitching prospects. They have plenty to go around in the minors and it’s likely there will be even more seeing their debut during the 2021 season. Still, it feels as though one can never really have enough pitchers. The more pitchers with potential, the more longevity and power it seems teams have.
For the Royals, while they could still be looking to fill other positions, if they are going to add any more prospects, a pitcher is likely. If they can find one that has decent control, speed, and even a bit of major league experience, that’s even better. That’s why Joel Kuhnel could be an interesting take for the Rule 5 Draft.
Kuhnel is currently the 22nd rank prospect in the Cincinnati Reds organization. While a lot of Rule 5 prospects tend to have only a minimal amount of time spent in the higher levels of the minors and often no major league time, Kuhnel is different. He spent a majority of 2019 between both Double and Tripple A ball, and even saw a few short stints in the majors, pitching 9.2 innings in 2019 and 3.0 in 2020.
He struggled in both major league samples, though there isn’t enough data to draw any real conclusions. With Kuhnel, though, the Royals are getting a player who is likely a little more major league ready as opposed to one who hasn’t ever pitched above Single-A ball.
Kuhnel’s experience so far in professional baseball comes strictly as a reliever, which is likely better for Kansas City. They have a heap of starting prospects at the moment, but a dedicated reliever will take out the questions about where he will eventually be.
He is a terrifying presence on the mound at 6’5” and 260 pounds, and he brings the power. He has a high-grade fastball that he easily throws in the high 90s and can touch triple digits. With the power the Royals brought into the bullpen in 2020, Kuhnel would fit right in.
He has a decent slider along with a changeup that he needs to continue working on. He has good control of the ball and while he saw a jump in walks during one of his two short major league chances, he was under 2.0 walks per 9 in 3 out of 4 minor league years.
The Royals have shown they are at a point where they are ready to win and they want to improve now. Kuhnel is one option to bring in through the Rule 5 that looks to be major league ready. He moved quickly through minors and showed success at each level.
Continuing to strengthen the bullpen will be important and a pitcher like Kuhnel who throws heat with control might be the perfect addition for the continued youth movement.
Joel Kuhnel is an option the Royals should look at during the Rule 5 draft. He has the experience and a fastball that could help push the group of relievers even further.