Angel Zerpa Is Hard To Ignore
When the Royals added four players to the 40-man roster, Angel Zerpa was the least known.
The 21-year-old lefthander signed for $100,000 out of Venezuela in 2016 but has not advanced past Rookie ball.
The Royals have been burned before for not protecting a prospect with an electric arm who had not reached full-season ball. The Blue Jays plucked righthander Elvis Luciano in the 2018 Rule 5 draft and kept him on the big league roster for the entire 2019 season, thus retaining his rights.
Royals general manager Dayton Moore is convinced Zerpa would not have made it through the Rule 5 draft.
Zerpa in 2019 recorded a 3.40 ERA with 55 strikeouts and 14 walks in 55.2 innings, while making 13 of his 14 appearances for Rookie-level Burlington.
“He’s come a long ways,” Royals assistant GM J.J. Piccolo said.
“He’s got a really good arm,” Piccolo said. “He works at 91-93 (mph). He locates his fastball well. He’s got a good changeup.”
The Royals also like his mound presence.
“He’s hard to ignore,” Piccolo said. And the Royals did not figure other clubs would ignore him either.
Zerpa finished 2019 at Burlington with 22 scoreless innings over five starts, including a 6-0 win against Pulaski in Game 1 of the Appalachian League semifinals. He allowed two hits, walked one and struck out seven over five innings. He did not yield a hit until an infield single with two outs in the fourth.
In his 22-inning scoreless streak, he gave up eight hits and three walks, while striking out 29. After the Appy League playoffs, Zerpa moved to Rookie-level Idaho Falls for one appearances.
Zerpa did not rank among the Royals’ top 30 prospects heading into 2020. While is an unknown commodity to most Royals fans, the organization believes he will climb quickly.
Zerpa will likely jump to high Class A to open 2021 and could be in the majors by 2023, if not before. And if he is, he’ll be pitching in Kansas City, not with some club that selected him in the Rule 5 draft.
— Lefthander Daniel Tillo was also added to the 40-man roster, though he will miss the entire 2021 season after having Tommy John surgery. The 24-year-old was invited to big league camp and then participated in the alternate training site before being shut down after testing positive for Covid-19 and then coming down with an elbow injury. Tillo spent most of 2019 at high Class A Wilmington.