Back in 2015, the Royals peaked after many rebuilding years under GM Dayton Moore and Manager Ned Yost. The club finished 95-67 and went on to win the Fall Classic. That team wasn’t necessarily remembered for its’ starting rotation though. It was the contact friendly lineup and lights out bullpen that led the way to the Commissioner’s Trophy.
When the Royals failed to make it back to October for 2 straight seasons and many key players’ contracts were expiring, the club went the rebuild route in 2018. At the time, there was some uncertainty surrounding the future of the franchise. It was the 2018 MLB Draft that set the tone for what this team could be in the coming years.
In that draft, the Royals selected 4 college pitchers within the first 40 picks. Those included Brady Singer (18th), Jackson Kowar (33rd), Daniel Lynch (34th), and Kris Bubic (40th). On top of this, the Royals possibly had the steal of the draft in 2020 selecting LHP Asa Lacy out of Texas A+M.
This season, Brady Singer and Kris Bubic each had promising rookie campaigns as part of the rotation. Singer posted a 4.06 ERA to go along with a 1.17 WHIP and 61 strikeouts in 64.1 innings of work. Bubic on the other hand had a 4.32 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 50 innings. Daniel Lynch and Jackson Kowar have both had minor league success and are expected to debut in ‘21.
With all these promising rotation pieces, Asa Lacy looks to have the highest ceiling and definite ace potential. With a 6 foot 4 frame and a strong repertoire of pitches, Lacy has drawn comparisons to the likes of Aroldis Chapman and even Clayton Kershaw. Expect Asa Lacy to make his debut in 2022, but don’t be surprised if he is on the major league roster as early as next season.
With all that being said, Brad Keller is the current ace and is only 25 years old. This season, Keller posted a career best 2.47 ERA with an astounding 1.02 WHIP and a 5-3 record. The 2021 rotation looks to feature Keller, Singer, Bubic, and recent signee Mike Minor. Daniel Lynch and/or Jackson Kowar could very well break into the rotation and provide more young talent.
The dream rotation to me is Lacy, Keller, Bubic, Lynch, and Kowar. If all of these guys play to their potential, we could be looking at a dominant KC rotation in just a year or two.
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