Two KC Royals minor leaguers proved Friday night that the club’s pitching prospects don’t have to be first-round draft picks to do great things.
Pitchers Zach Haake and Dante Biasi, both sixth-round selections, got together to toss a no-hitter for Quad Cities, one of the Royals’ two new farm clubs. The River Bandits won, of course, beating the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 9-0.
Had it not been for the 2018 draft’s incredible pitching depth, Haake might have been a much higher pick than 182nd. The Royals zeroed in on pitchers and took Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar, Daniel Lynch and Kris Bubic before the second round began, then grabbed Jonathan Bowlan in the second and Austin Cox in the fifth before choosing Haake in the sixth round.
Kansas City shifted focus a bit the next year by selecting shortstops Bobby Witt Jr. and Brady McConnell in the first and second rounds before making pitchers Alec Marsh and Grant Gambrell second and third rounders. Biasi became the third KC pitching selection in the sixth.
Friday night, Haake and Biasi lived up to their billing. Haake started for Quad Cities and held Wisconsin hitless and scoreless through six innings. He struck out four and walked two before Biasi took over in the seventh.
Biasi struggled a bit by walking four, but also struck out the same number to preserve the no-hitter and shutout and to earn his first save of the season. Haake’s effort made him 3-1 with a 4.37 ERA; he has 38 strikeouts in 41.2 innings.
But the two pitchers’ gem isn’t the only highlight of the River Bandits’ first season in the Kansas City organization.
The KC Royals’ entry is setting the pace in the High-A Central-West Division.
Quad Cities plays in Class High-A’s Central-West Division and, entering Tuesday night’s game against Beloit, leads the division by six games. The River Bandits, 27-13 overall, have won seven straight games and are outscoring their opponents by 65 runs. They’re 14-3 at home, 13-10 on the road.
Some top KC Royals prospects are on the Quad Cities River Bandits’ roster.
The River Bandits’ current roster features seven players ranked among MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 Kansas City prospects. (The number of Pipeline prospects at Quad Cities was actually eight until pitcher Angel Zerpa’s 4-0, 2.59 record earned him a promotion to Northwest Arkansas Monday.
Three top pitching prospects join Haase (ranked 18th) on Pipeline’s Top 30 and Quad Cities’ roster. Will Klein (No. 26) is 2-1 with a 4.30 ERA in 12 relief appearances and Noah Murdock, slowed so far this season with a couple of injuries, is 0-0, 13.50 in only one game.
Asa Lacy (No. 3 behind Bobby Witt Jr. and Daniel Lynch), the KC Royals’ first round selection in last year’s draft, is struggling at his first professional stop. He’s 1-3, 5.67 in eight starts. On the bright side, Lacy has 43 strikeouts in 20 innings.
Outfielder Tyler Gentry (No. 21) has a .396 OBP and is hitting .260 with five home runs and 24 RBIs in 38 games. Fellow outfielder Seuly Matias (No. 16) is on the Injured List with a broken finger and has three homers and five RBIs in 11 games. Nick Loftin (No. 7), another of the organization’s stellar shortstops, has five home runs, 18 RBIs and a 32-game average of .238.
And what of non-ranked River Bandits? First baseman Vinnie Pasquantino leads the club in home runs with 11 and RBIs with 31; third baseman Jimmy McGovern’s .288 is the team’s best average. Reliever Jonah Dipoto is a perfect 5-for-5 in save situations and owns a nifty 1.56 ERA in 13 appearances.
Two Royals pitching prospects combined for a no-hitter Friday and their Quad Cities club is having an excellent season.