Should Anthony Veneziano be on the KC Royals Opening Day roster?

Anthony Veneziano made his MLB debut late last season. Where will he start the 2024 season?
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Welcome back to Kings of Kauffman's 2024 KC Royals player projection series. Over the next few weeks, we'll be reviewing how various Royals performed last year and predicting how they might fare this season. Up today is pitcher Anthony Veneziano.

The KC Royals brought up lefty starter Anthony Veneziano as the 2023 season wound down, but there is not much to evaluate at the MLB level. The Royals 2024 rotation looks to be miles ahead of its 2023 iteration, diminishing the pitcher's prospective role. However, Veneziano can still improve where he can and be ready for his eventual MLB return.

Veneziano, currently Kansas City's 16th-best prospect according to MLB.com, saw plenty of success in the minors last year. He started eight games for the Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals, commanding the strike zone with his fastball/slider combination. His 2.13 ERA was third-best among Texas League starters last season, earning him a promotion to Triple-A Omaha.

There, Veneziano made 17 starts for the Storm Chasers, with very mixed results. He was rocked in his first Triple-A start, allowing five earned runs in two innings on May 24. He then settled down for a handful of games but continued to walk batters at an abnormal pace. His strikeout potential flashed, recording a career-high 10 Ks in an Aug. 10 start. All in all, Veneziano posted more quality starts (5) than blowouts in Triple-A but he still has plenty of room for growth.

Anthony Veneziano's KC Royals debut left much to be desired.

Injuries ended the 2023 season early for Brady Singer and Brad Keller, bringing Veneziano and Jonathan Bowlan to the majors. Both were just relief options, but Veneziano did not impress the casual fan in his 2 1/3 innings of work. He did not allow an earned run but walked two batters to striking out one while allowing two hits.

It is a minuscule sample size, but it is the one fans have nonetheless. Those meager innings will not define Veneziano's MLB career though. Here is how projections think the southpaw will perform in 2024.

How FanGraphs projects he will perform for KC Royals

FanGraphs (Depth Charts) predicts Veneziano will play 22 MLB games, with three starts. They think Veneziano flips his walk-to-strikeout ratio around, striking out 17.9% of opposing batters while walking 9.3%. His ERA is bound to rise, and FanGraphs predicts a 4.82 mark with a 4.84 FIP.

How Anthony Veneziano will actually perform

No MLB team will go through an entire season with only five starting pitchers. Whether it be underperformance or health issues, the Royals will need internal options ready for a start. Veneziano may not be at the top of the list, but he is sure close to it.

The Coastal Carolina product has MLB potential at the backend of the rotation, but he could use more seasoning in Triple-A. His production there was volatile at times, resulting in a 4.22 ERA and 4.62 FIP. Those are acceptable numbers but do not scream major-league starter immediately.

I think the key to Veneziano's success is his offspeed pitching. His fastball is fine enough, offering some movement while not being overpowering. His slider and changeup can be devastating pitches though. Veneziano's tunneling was very good last season, but he needs all three pitches to do so effectively.

The Royals rotation is righty heavy, and that is where Veneziano could see some MLB action. I believe he makes his first career start comes before the All-Star break, due to him being the next lefty up until Kris Bubic returns. His four-seam fastball will remain his best offering in 2024, but his slider has to have better results if he wants to stay with the big league club.

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