KC Royals Prospects: What's up with this promising reliever?

John McMillon was good with Kansas City last season.
Kansas City Royals v Oakland Athletics
Kansas City Royals v Oakland Athletics / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

While the KC Royals awaited their evening contest against Oakland Saturday, their Triple-A Omaha affiliate played twice. The Storm Chasers finished Friday night's suspended game by losing to St. Paul 4-2, then beat the Saints by the same score.

Not every Chaser played, including reliever John McMillon, who for a short time last year brightened up the otherwise dismal 106-loss season the Royals struggled through. After an electrifying, rapid rise from Single-A to the majors in just his third professional campaign, the right-hander pitched four times for the big club and, in an equal number of innings, struck out eight and didn't give up a run or a walk.

Sadly, though, a right forearm strain struck, forcing McMillon to the Injured List and making the Aug. 27 scoreless frame he worked against Seattle his last appearance of the season. Apparently not completely cured during his long baseball winter, McMillon was optioned to Omaha two weeks before spring training ended.

How is John McMillon faring so far with the Storm Chasers?

Unfortunately, McMillon hasn't reacquired the stellar form he displayed last season when he went 7-3 with a 2.10 ERA and 0.95 WHIP across stops at Single-A Columbia, High-A Quad Cities, and Double-A Northwest Arkansas before the Royals deemed him worthy of skipping Triple-A and called him to Kansas City.

In fact, in 11 games, he's been battered for 11 runs in 10 innings (9.90 ERA), and walked 17, numbers not good enough to outweigh his 13 strikeouts. He last pitched Tuesday but couldn't survive a full inning — he entered the game against the Saints with a 6-5 sixth-inning lead but surrendered a leadoff homer, walked two, yielded a pair of run-scoring singles, and allowed the Saints three runs before manager Mike Jirschele pulled him with one out remaining in the frame.

McMillon took the loss, his first decision of the year. The outing also marked the second time this season he's given up three or more runs. Opponents are hitting .273 against him.

What plans the Royals have for McMillon this season remain to be seen and depend primarily on him. Kansas City isn't yet in dire need of relievers, but if looking to the minors for bullpen help becomes necessary, McMillon isn't likely to get the first call. He'll have to get considerably closer to his 2023 form before that happens.

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