Bulls for the ‘Pen: Kansas City Royals

Royals LHP Donnie Joseph made it count in 5.2 MLB innings in 2013. Can he crack the tightly woven Royals 'pen in 2014? (Photo: Competeeveryday.com)

Royals LHP Donnie Joseph made it count in 5.2 MLB innings in 2013; Can he crack the tightly woven Royals ‘pen in 2014?
(Photo: Competeeveryday.com)

In the latest in a thirty-part series (yeesh!), We will be looking around baseball at potential bullpen vacancies and the internal candidates that each organization has in the upper levels of their systems to fill those vacancies. We’re hoping to expose some fresh faces that should see plenty of action in 2014 barring injuries or roster screwery and in doing so provide a bit of a relief summary for each organization’s upper minors. Without further ado, we’ll get moving onto the Kansas City Royals.

With the Royals reportedly shopping Aaron Crow and Tim Collins, it seemed like the time to look at them for our series before they announce their plans after a trade. The Royals 2013 bullpen led the American League in like, basically everything (ERA, FIP, xFIP, K/9) while posting the fifth lowest walk-rate. The shopping of two of the more walk-prone relievers in Crow and Collins should be no surprise, then, for a team looking to improve and deal from a position of strength. What struck me in researching this, however, is just how strong a position the Royals and their bullpen depth are actually in. We can expect the continued presence of Luke Hochevar, Kelvin Herrera and his filthy changeup and supercloser Greg Holland. The plethora of talented arms behind them in Louis Coleman, Will Smith, Wade Davis and Juan Gutierrez to name a few, still fill out quite a nice bullpen card without Crow or Collins. Spots in the ‘pen, outside of injuries or any non-rumored trades, may be tough to come by for the youngsters behind that group of seven, but we’ll hopefully get a better look at one promising young lefty without it having to cost one of the other deserving hurlers playing time.

(Video: MLB.com)

Donnie Joseph had a nice debut in 2013, striking out 7 of the 25 batters he faced against 4 walks in his six big league appearances. He is a fastball-slider guy, both of which are above-average offerings with the fastball clocking in at an average of 91.1 in his 2013 cameo and the slider receiving rave reviews all over as a “genuine plus” offering. His delivery is awkward but increases his extension and seems to add to his deception, and since he hasn’t started a game professionally, it doesn’t look like either the Reds or Royals have attempted to change much about it. He has had a bit of a problem with the walk in his time as a pro, with a total mark of 4.5 BB/9 but the strikeouts have been there all along, posting strikeout rates of over 14 per nine through A ball and very nice 11 and 12 marks in AA and AAA respectively. He has been closing games since college, so if you believe in ‘bulldog mentalities’ and ‘mental toughness’ and all that, Joseph appears to have it in spades.

Joseph should see some time this year for the Royals, that much is certain. However, when you look at things, it may not just be Collins and Crow that get moved. Donnie Joseph could make someone like Wade Davis and his starter-arbitration-money in the bullpen look expendable, and all of a sudden we’ll be seeing a lot more Donnie Joseph; and that might mean a lot more Royals’ strikeouts.

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Posted on November 25, 2013, in Bulls for the 'Pen, Relief Pitchers, Royals and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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