KC Royals Prospects: Dominant hurler now just a step away from majors

Christian Petersen/GettyImages

The KC Royals made a litany of roster moves Monday ahead of their series opener against the Detroit Tigers. The major headline was designating pitcher Matt Sauer for assignment while promoting pitcher Sam Long, but the most impactful move was down on the farm. The Royals promoted right-handed pitcher Chandler Champlain, MLB.com's 11th-best Royals prospect, from Double-A Northwest Arkansas to Triple-A Omaha, following Champlain's dominant start in the Texas League, where he posted a 1.62 ERA and 2.37 FIP in his last six starts.

Champlain leads all Double-A starters with a 29.5% K-BB% (difference in strikeout and walk rate) through seven starts. Although he had a rough season opener, Champlain has been lights out since then, consistently pitching at least five innings and recording six strikeouts in his last six starts. His 10-strikeout performance on May 15 proved Champlain needed higher-level competition.

KC Royals see a back-end rotation addition in Chandler Champlain.

The California native is still expanding his pitch arsenal and doing so with effectiveness. His cutter and curveball were the go-to pitches for much of his career, with a slider improving in 2023. Preston Farr of Farm to Fountains noted that Champlain substituted a circle change for the customary changeup this season. No matter what pitch it is, Champlain baffles batters with it.

Storm Chasers fans must wait a few days before seeing their newest pitcher in action, though. Omaha's Nicholas Badders reported that Champlain's Triple-A debut is scheduled for May 23 against the Columbus Clippers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Guardians. He will face off against starter Tyler Beede, whom the Guardians designated for assignment earlier this month.

Champlain led all Royals minor league starters last season in wins, WHIP, and innings pitched. He made 25 starts across High-A Quad Cities and Northwest Arkansas, recording a 3.33 ERA and 4.43 FIP. He allowed 16 home runs last season, his Achilles heel on the stat sheet. The long ball remains an issue in 2024, but it goes unnoticed since Champlain remained dominant.

The Royals acquired Champlain, lefty T.J. Sikkema, and righty Beck Way from the New York Yankees in 2022, in which Kansas City traded away outfielder Andrew Benintendi. Champlain stands out as the most impactful player from that trade, while Way is in Double-A and Sikkema is currently playing for the Cincinnati Reds' High-A affiliate.

More from Kings of Kauffman