Welcome back to Kings of Kauffman’s KC Royals Projections series for 2022. Between now and Opening Day, our writers are analyzing how various Royals performed last season and predicting how they might fare this year. Up today is pitcher Jon Heasley.
Righthander Jon Heasley got his feet wet in the major leagues with the KC Royals in 2021, and hopes are he’ll be able to make a bigger splash in 2022.
Selected by Kansas City in the 13th round of the 2018 amateur draft, Heasley worked his way through Rookie ball that year and A ball in 2019 before the pandemic caused cancellation of the 2020 season. He started 2021 at Double-A Northwest Arkansas and put up a 7-3 record with a 3.33 ERA over 22 appearances (21 starts). His 120 strikeouts to 34 walks reflected his good control as he mixed a four-seam fastball with a curveball, changeup and sinker.
In three late September starts with Kansas City, he logged 14.2 innings, posted a 4.91 ERA and earned his first major league win and first loss.
How Baseball Reference and FanGraphs project Jon Heasley for the KC Royals.
Baseball Reference projects a 4-4 record with 4.30 ERA in 67 innings for Heasley in 2022. FanGraphs (Depth Chart version) doesn’t expect as much work for Heasley, projecting 2-3 record and 4.86 ERA in 43 innings, primarily out of the bullpen.
How will Jon Heasley actually perform for the KC Royals in the 2022 season?
Zack Greinke, Brad Keller and Brady Singer will likely make up the first three spots in the starting rotation when the Royals open the season this week. Scott Barlow, Jake Brentz, Amir Garrett and Josh Staumont should all make the opening bullpen, leaving about a dozen arms dueling for the final pitching spots.
Whether it’s in a starting role or out of the pen, Heasley should be relied on to claim a spot on the club in his age-25 season, especially with the expanded early rosters.
Despite a rough spring (11.25 ERA and seven walks in eight innings through Sunday), Heasley stands a good chance of opening the season with the Royals, bringing the ability to start or come out of the bullpen in long relief in a role similar to Ervin Santana’s last year. An ERA in the 4.00 range or lower would be reasonable for Heasley, and keeping his strikeout-to-walk ratio up will keep him out of trouble.
Expect Jon Heasley to contribute nicely to the Royals this season.