The Kansas City Royals announced the promotion of right-handed pitcher Jon Heasley before the series opener against the Seattle Mariners. Heasley was promoted from Double-A club Northwest Arkansas, where he posted a solid stat line.
Heasley pitched in 22 games for the Naturals, sporting a 3.33 ERA over 105 1/3 innings pitched with 120 strikeouts to 34 walks. The former Oklahoma State Cowboy has the Double-A Central's second-highest strikeout rate per nine innings at 10.25. His growth since the 2018 draft has culminated in a promotion late in the 2021 season.
The corresponding move saw right-handed pitcher Brady Singer head to the injured list. While no injury was announced, Royals Review editor-in-chief Max Reiper speculated that Singer "is likely out for COVID-19-related reasons."
Heasley's promotion also marks a major milestone in MLB history. According to sportswriter Rany Jazayerli, Heasley's start makes the 2018 Royals draft class the first in MLB history to start for the team that originally drafted them in the same season.
Heasley has routinely ranked below his 2018 peers in prospect rankings but still ranks 14th in the MLB Pipeline Royals rankings. He has flashed top-level pitching while throwing a fastball, curveball, slider and changeup.
Tonight's start will provide insight into Heasley's prospect as a reliever or starter for Kansas City. Heasley may fit best as a long-term reliever or lower-level starting option, according to Alex Duvall of Royals Farm Report. The 2021 Royals could certainly use help in the starting rotation. Injuries are hitting the pitching staff hard late this season, with Mike Minor, Daniel Lynch and now Brady Singer all affected.
The Royals, currently 66-80 and fourth in the AL Central, continue their homestand with a series against the Mariners. Tonight's game, and Heasley's first start, will start at 7:10 PM CST.