The KC Royals certainly do not have much going their way right now. The win-loss record is at or near the bottom, several key players are below average in their respective roles, and the Royals are overshadowed by the Kansas City Chiefs with months of baseball left. That is never a good spot to be in, and one the Royals avoided during the early 2010s. That all seems so long ago, doesn't it?
KC Royals prospect Ben Kudrna is turning heads in 2023.
Rebuilding a team is a slow process, but resupplying a dry farm system is a top priority for the Royals. Kansas City needs to prove fans wrong and develop their draft selections into MLB-caliber players, or prospects worth netting such players. There have been some marked improvements among pitching prospects in the minor's lower levels, with several players promoted by the mid-season mark. One such player caught the eye of MLB.com's Jim Callis, Jonathan Mayo, and Sam Dykstra as their "hottest pitching prospect". That would be the Royals' second-best prospect, righty Ben Kudrna.
At 20 years old, Kudrna is in his second professional season in the Royals system. Kansas City drafted him 43rd overall in the 2021 MLB Draft as an over-slot selection behind lefty Frank Mozzicato. The two are progressing nicely in the 2023 season, but Kudrna is looking like the better prospect at this point. He started off the season rocky with three straight starts allowing four or more earned runs, but he settled down as the calendar progressed. He allowed only five runs in five May starts, then recorded two quality starts in his last two appearances ahead of the All-Star Break.
The Royals promoted Kudrna from Low-A Columbia to High-A Quad Cities on July 12. He ended his time in Low-A with a 4-3 record, 3.56 ERA, and 70 strikeouts over 68 1/3 innings. The 30 walks in that span were concerning, but not Kudrna's stuff plays well and the control is improving. He made his High-A debut on July 20 against the Beloit Sky Carp. Kudrna pitched six innings of shutout ball, with two walks against six strikeouts. He is hardly already knocking on the Double-A door, but let's celebrate the Royals' successes as they come this year.