Grading the 2022 KC Royals: Reliever Dylan Coleman

(Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports) /

Back in early January, when the biggest baseball question was whether the MLB lockout would end in time to fit in a 2022 major league season, I wrote a story about Dylan Coleman, a reliever who pitched five times for the KC Royals late in the 2021 campaign.

The piece wasn’t written because the lockout left little else to write about. Instead, it explored a promising pitcher who just a few months before had completed only his fourth professional season.

I asked in that story if Coleman, with only a handful of games to his big league credit, was ready for a full major league season, and answered my own question this way:

"“Don’t be at all surprised if Coleman spends all of 2022 in Kansas City.”"

As it turned out, Coleman was indeed ready, and timely resolution of the lockout provided him the opportunity to prove it. (He did pitch one inning at Triple-A Omaha, a single minor league appearance that didn’t detract at all from his suitability for the big leagues).

And if his season’s work is any indication, Coleman may never throw another minor league pitch.

Dylan Coleman performed well in his rookie season with the KC Royals.

Primarily a starter in college, Coleman became a reliever after San Diego chose him in the fourth round of the 2018 amateur draft—he’s come out of the bullpen in all but two of his 164 professional appearances. He had a pedestrian 1-2, 3.18 ERA minor league record the summer he was drafted.

Although he repeated that 3.18 ERA in 2019, his second season was actually better than his first. He went 2-1, 2.37 at Rookie level and 2-1, 2.13 in A-ball; only the four earned runs he surrendered in 2.1 innings at High-A Lake Elsinore pushed his ERA above 3.00.

Although Coleman didn’t pitch in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, the season worked a change in his career when Kansas City traded Trevor Rosenthal to the Padres for Edward Olivares and a player to be named later, who turned out to be Coleman.

He began 2021 at Double-A Northwest Arkansas and parlayed four saves and a 2.92 ERA in 18 games into a promotion to Triple-A Omaha, where he went 4-0, 3.55 in 27 games.

The Royals called him up and he made his major league debut Sept. 21 with a scoreless inning against Cleveland. He gave up only one run in the other four games he pitched.

And how about 2022? Coleman extinguished any misgivings about his readiness for the majors by going 5-2 with a 2.78 ERA in 68 games and striking out 71 in 68 innings. Opposing batters hit only .194 against him.

Coleman’s control, a bit of a nemesis since he turned pro four seasons ago, requires improvement. He walked 37 in 68 innings for a 4.90 BB/9.

How, then, to grade Coleman’s first full big league season? One of the brighter spots in a troubled KC bullpen, we’ll give him an A-.

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Dylan Coleman had a good rookie season for the Royals.