KC Royals: Rookie makes big jump, will start tonight

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

Fans expecting to see how many changeups KC Royals starter Brady Singer might throw against the Mariners tonight will be disappointed. But what they’ll witness at Kauffman Stadium instead could be far more interesting.

Singer is the latest Royal to land on the disabled list—the Royals placed him there earlier today for unspecified reasons. Taking his place will be Jon Heasley, the club’s No. 14 prospect per MLB Pipeline.

And Heasley will start against the Mariners tonight.

The move, undoubtedly a surprise to Heasley, is significant not only because he’ll be making his major league debut, but also because he’s making the big jump from Double-A to the big leagues without throwing a single pitch at the Triple-A level.

But promoting Heasley, even if it’s for a short time, isn’t terribly surprising considering the company he’ll be keeping—like Singer and current KC pitchers Kris Bubic, Jackson Kowar, and Daniel Lynch, and outfielder Kyle Isbel, Heasley is a member of the Royals’ vaunted 2018 draft class. The club hasn’t been shy about expediting their 2018 draftees’ progression.

Heasley, a righthander, is 7-3 in 21 starts at Northwest Arkansas this season. He’s averaging more than 10 strikeouts, and less than three walks, per nine innings, and owns a 3.33 ERA in 105.1 frames.

His professional start was ragged—he went 1-3, 5.15 in 12 games in Rookie ball after the 2018 draft, but improved in 2019 with an 8-5, 3.12 record in 25 A-ball appearances.

The pandemic-forced cancellation of last year’s minor league season meant Heasley didn’t pitch competitively, but he was fortunate to be selected to join the Royals’ Alternate Training Site, signaling the high value the franchise places on him.

At 6-feet-3 and 225 pounds, Heasley can cut a fairly imposing figure on the mound. He relies primarily on a fastball, slider, and curve.

Jon Heasley and the KC Royals will try to stop a team in the playoff hunt.

Heasley’s assignment tonight will be to shut down the Mariners, who come to Kansas City in third place in the American League West and just four games behind in the AL Wild Card race. The M’s, losers of six of their last 10 games, have 16 games left, so their three weekend contests with the Royals are crucial.

Righthander Chris Flexen will start for the Mariners. He’s 11-6 with a 3.73 ERA, and has never pitched against the Royals.

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Jon Heasley’s first big league pitch is set for 7:10 p.m. CDT tonight. The Royals and Seattle play at 6:10 p.m. CDT Saturday, then close out their weekend series with a 1:10 p.m. CDT contest Sunday.