In 2018, the Kansas City Royals selected 43 players in the MLB draft. One of the noticeable themes for the Royals in this draft was the number of college players taken — 34. To narrow this draft down even more, they selected 26 pitchers. The organization would string together four picks in a row that are now contributing at the major league level: Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar, Daniel Lynch and Kris Bubic.
Looking back on the 2018 draft, there is still a lot of potential that is lurking in the minors. For example, Jonathan Bowlan is still recovering from Tommy John surgery. Kyle Isbel is an outfielder who was with the MLB club briefly at the beginning of the 2021 season. Austin Cox and Zach Haake are intriguing lefty and righty arms, respectively. The main focus of this article will be on the first four draft picks and why the success of this collective core will be significant in 2022 and beyond.
Brady Singer: R1, pick No. 18
Most people are unaware that Brady Singer was a second-round draft pick by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015. Singer believed in himself and attended the University of Florida instead of signing. After success at Florida, he was later drafted in the first round by the Royals in 2018. Singer made his major league debut with the club on July 25, 2020. In 2020 Brady showed flashes of success and, at times, reminded everyone why the Royals drafted him in 2018.
2021 has been a different story, though. Singer currently is 3-9 on the year with a 4.87 ERA. He has logged 109 innings while posting a 3.82 FIP, a 1.596 WHIP and an ERA+ of 93. Singer has been scrutinized by some for only throwing a two-pitch arsenal. If he can establish his changeup, he has workhorse potential. He has the demeanor to be an ace of the staff. As the Royals look to compete in 2022, Singer is one pitcher they expect to make an impact.
Jackson Kowar: R1C, pick No. 33
Jackson Kowar was originally selected in the 2015 MLB Draft by the Detroit Tigers in the 40th round. Kowar would decide to attend the University of Florida and would be a lethal duo for opponents along with Singer. The Royals would end up drafting him with the 33rd overall pick in 2018. Kowar made his debut on June 7, 2021. He would square off against the LA Angels and while this was a memorable day, it was not the best of starts. He was sent down by the end of the month.
With the Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers, Kowar went 9-4 with a 3.46 ERA. He posted 115 strikeouts to 34 walks. He would return to the Royals on Sept. 1, making a start. He threw six innings of zero earned run ball with six strikeouts. If Kowar can build off of his most recent start and continue to make strides, he could have a role in the rotation in 2022 and beyond.
Daniel Lynch: R1C, pick No. 34
Daniel Lynch was the third college pitcher to be taken in 2018 by the Royals. Lynch played baseball at the University of Virginia. The 6'6" LHP made his major league debut on May 3, 2021. Lynch would start against the Cleveland Indians, a contest in which he would toss 4.2 innings while giving up four hits, and three earned runs. He would take a slide after that start, which resulted in a demotion.
Lynch would return to the big leagues and shove for 8 innings of shutout ball against the Detroit Tigers. In July, Lynch posted an ERA of 1.93. It would continue into August, when he posted a record of 3-0 with a 2.39 ERA. If Lynch can continue his success for the remainder of 2021, he could be the ace of the staff in 2022.
Kris Bubic: CBA pick No. 40
Kris Bubic has been a surprise out of Stanford. Many compared his motion to that of Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Clayton Kershaw. Bubic, a 6'3" LHP, does not blow hitters away with a feisty fastball but is at his best when he is hitting spots and locating his changeup. Bubic made his major league debut on July 31, 2020.
Since that point, he has taken on many roles from a starter to long relief. In May, Bubic posted a 1.52 ERA while throwing 29.2 innings. The wheels fell off in June, though, when he posted a 9.16 ERA with a record of 1-3. He would progressively get better in July, posting a 4.78 ERA. August was shaky, with an ERA of 7.15. One of the noticeable attributes is that when Bubic is consistent, he eats innings for the Kansas City Royals.
This group has finally all made it to the big leagues and will have the remainder of 2021 to make strides in a positive direction. This could be a major part of the rotation for the future of the Royals. This ball club is looking to compete in 2022, and that starts with a competitive pitching staff.