KC Royals move one pitcher to the IL, call up rookie hurler

Alec Marsh goes to the Injured List. Will Klein heads for the majors.
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Two nights ago, as the KC Royals were losing to Toronto and Alec Marsh contemplated his next start from the Kansas City dugout, reliever Will Klein went about the business of securing Triple-A Omaha's 7-4 victory over Indianapolis. Called upon to pitch the ninth, Klein struck out the first two batters he faced, retired Indy in order, and earned his third save of the season.

Today, Marsh is headed for the Injured List while Klein makes the short trip from Omaha to Kansas City, where he'll become a major leaguer for the first time. The two roster moves, announced by the Royals late Thursday morning, became necessary after Marsh suffered a right elbow contusion in Wednesday night's victory over the Blue Jays.

Marsh's injury came in the fifth inning when Toronto's Addison Barger, a rookie appearing in his first big league game, lined the KC starter's fifth pitch straight back into Marsh's right elbow. Marsh recovered quickly enough to throw Barger out, but left the game in obvious pain. His stint on the 15-day IL starts today.

Kansas City promotes Will Klein to take Alec Marsh's spot on the roster

Klein will join the Royals for their scheduled series finale with Toronto, but wow long his stay in Kansas City turns out to be remains to be seen. Because he's a reliever and not a starter, it could be a short visit.

That's because absent his injury, Marsh's next start probably would have come Monday against the Blue Jays in Toronto. The Royals could fill that spot with Klein by deploying him as an opener, but relying instead on a starter or long reliever is more probable. Manager Matt Quatraro might consider moving Cole Ragans, Thursday's scheduled starter, into Marsh's spot, especially if rain in Kansas City washes out today's game.

But regardless of how the club resolves the uncertainty of Monday's starting assignment, it will be interesting to see Klein make his big league debut. A hard-throwing righthander currently ranked 18th among MLB Pipeline's Top 30 Kansas City prospects, he's a legitimate major league closer candidate, but must significantly improve the control issues that cloud his minor league numbers — now in his fourth season, his BB/9 is a too-high 6.65.

Fortunately, he's doing better this year. Through nine appearances for Omaha, his BB/9 is 4.91 which, if sustained through the entire campaign, would be the lowest of his professional career. He's also 0-0 with a perfect 0.00 ERA.

Because the Royals should be eager to see how Klein fares against major league hitters, expect Quatraro to use him at the first available opportunity.

More stories about the KC Royals