Blake Wolters Touches Triple Digits In Royals Camp


Image credit: Royals RHP Blake Wolters (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

After a week of bouncing around Arizona minor league fields, J.J. Cooper examines five pitchers who appear to have taken a step ahead of where they were ranked or perceived during the offseason. First up? A 2023 Royals draftee.

Going into his senior year of high school, Illinois righthander Blake Wolters took a big step forward. His promising 89-92 mph fastball became a 93-95 mph heater with some teeth, which helped vault him into the top tier of prep pitching prospects. The Royals were enamored enough with Wolters to pay him $2.8 million as their second-round pick, the 31st largest signing bonus in the class.

Whenever a pitcher takes a big step forward like this, the follow-up question is whether he can sustain it. Some pitchers see their stuff take a step back when they move to pro ball.

That’s not been a problem for Wolters so far.

Wolters has not only sustained it, he’s taken another couple of steps forward. The fastball that was sitting in the high 80s as a high school junior now sits in the high 90s. He’s already touched 100+ mph on the Royals’ backfields this spring. A fastball that was projectable but below-average on a major league scale less than two years ago is now flirting with plus-plus grades.

“(It’s taken) two grades forward in a lot of cases. But beyond the stuff, it’s the emotional maturity of accepting and understanding instruction that has blown us away,” Royals senior director of pitching performance Paul Gibson said. 

Wolters gets to that velocity without a lot of effort to his delivery. He now does a good job of using his thick, muscular lower half in his delivery. That was sometimes an issue as an amateur.

“I didn’t see him as an amateur, (but) I’ve watched (amateur) video. He’s certainly more physical in his lower half,” Gibson said.

The Royals shut Wolters down and didn’t have him pitch in any official games after he signed. He made a pair of impressive but brief outings during instructional league, but even then he barely pitched.

“He came in this spring and he’s just blown us away,” Gibson said “The delivery is pristine. We’re not doing anything with it.”

Wolters’ increased velocity helps everything else play up as well. He’s showing some feel for developing his changeup.

“His feel for the changeup has advanced really well. Today with all the movement profiles that are out there with technology, sometimes we lose track of the change of speed as opposed to big movement,” Gibson said. “I don’t want him to lose track of ‘hey, here’s 97-98 and here’s 88. That’s as big a weapon as movement with his changeup. He’s taken to that really well. He’s got a really good feel for the ball. It comes off his fingers really well.”

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