There’s nothing quite like getting that first call to come up to the big leagues. So many stories from the past indicate what a special time it is for both players and their families.
There have been tales of players getting called into the Triple-A manager’s office and being told they're being benched for the game just to find out it’s because they are going to be joining the Major League club.
There are countless other stories that could go on and on but the important thing is that these players get to celebrate and commemorate the moment that they have been working toward for a majority of their lives. The hard work and the persistence, through all of the highs and lows that baseball bring, are realized in that moment.
This year, specifically for the Kansas City Royals, they’ve had two of their top pitching prospects called up to join the club between Daniel Lynch and Jackson Kowar. These two players will forever be tied to each other for being part of the incredible draft the Royals put together in the first round of the 2018 MLB Draft.
In fact, the four pitchers the Royals took are the first in MLB history to be drafted in the first round by the same team and start with the team that drafted them in the same season. It’s even crazier it’s been less than three years since they were all drafted.
It was Brady Singer at pick No. 18, Kowar at pick No. 33, Lynch at pick No. 34, and Kris Bubic at pick No. 40. The Royals went all-in on college pitchers. Singer and Bubic made their MLB debuts in 2020. Lynch and Kowar had to wait their turn but it was inevitable that those two would make their debuts at some point during the 2021 season.
There’s no way to tiptoe around this, so let’s just get this out of the way. They were both flat-out terrible in their Major League debuts.
Lynch, the hard-throwing lefty, made three starts for the Royals and it just happened to fall in line with their 11-game losing streak earlier this season. He went 4 2/3 innings in his debut, allowing four hits, four walks, and three earned runs. He added three strikeouts as well. His second start was worse. He couldn’t get out of the first inning, giving up eight earned runs while seven hits and one walk were surrendered. In his third start, he only lasted 2 2/3 innings while giving up three runs. His ERA was sitting at a cool 15.75 before he was sent back down to Omaha.
Kowar made his debut this week during the first West Coast road trip of the season against the Los Angeles Angels. It was a disaster from the start. He couldn’t command his pitches and gave up four hits, two walks and four earned runs before his exit.
It seemed like his nerves grabbed a hold of him. After starting the season in Omaha and delivering an exceptional 5-0 record with 41 strikeouts to 10 walks. His ERA was a brilliant .085 when he was called up. He’d shown everything he needed to at that level, it was his time to come up and join the squad.
There’s been a lot of overreaction to the start of their Major League careers. Yes, they were very bad. However, there are many players, very good players even, who get off to a rough start in their careers. There are countless pitchers who get rocked early in their career but have the mental fortitude to push through it and turn into All-Star caliber players. It’s early, don’t freak out yet.
Kowar will get several more starts before any rash decisions are made. There’s confidence that he will bounce back in his second start. Lynch will work out some kinks in Omaha before rejoining the club, potentially in a relief role later this season.
This season was all about getting better and building toward the future. The Royals will most likely float around that .500 record mark for the rest of the season. There will be some winning streaks, there will be some losing streaks, but the key will be showing progress, especially among the rookies.
Take a step back, take a deep breath, and enjoy watching this young core come together. There’s a high probability that the next time you see the Royals making a run for the playoffs you’ll be hearing the names Singer, Kowar, Lynch and Bubic called every fifth day. There will be highs and lows, but give these rookies some grace.