No team started more games in 2020 with a rookie on the mound than the Royals.
Among those 28 starts made by rookies, none were promising than those made by 24-year-old righthander Brady Singer.
He won the Royals’ first game on July 25 and their final game on Sept. 27, and while there were bumps along the road, Singer led all rookies with 61 strikeouts while going 4-5, 4.06 in 12 starts and 64.1 innings.
Relying almost exclusively on a 93 mph sinker and 83 mph changeup, Singer recorded three quality starts in his final four outings. In his Sept. 10 start in Cleveland, he did not allow a hit until there were two outs in the eighth inning when Austin Hedges hit a groundball single to right.
Singer, who was drafted 18th overall in 2018 out of Florida, wasn’t the only Royals rookie pitcher to shine. A fellow 2018 draft pick joined Singer in the rotation.
Lefthander Kris Bubic, who led the minors with 185 strikeouts in 2019, struck out 8.8 per nine innings to set a Royals rookie for those with at least 10 starts.
Bubic, a supplemental first-rounder out of Stanford, yielded two or fewer runs in seven of his 10 starts. The 23-year-old recorded a 4.32 ERA in 50 innings, striking out 49 and walking 22.
In the Royals’ bullpen, a rookie flamethrower emerged after five seasons of of untamed wildness in the minor leagues, the last three at Triple-A.
Josh Staumont, a 2015 second-round pick out of Azusa Pacific, struck out 37 in 25.2 innings while recording a 2.45 ERA in 26 appearances.
Staumont averaged 98 mph and hit 100 regularly, while throwing a wicked, high-spin curveball in the low 80s. Opposing hitters managed just .172 with 18 strikeouts in at-bats ending with a curve.
Control remains a concern for Staumont, who walked 5.6 per nine innings as a rookie after averaging 7.0 per nine in the minors.
“The most important thing is the transition of some of our young pitchers and a bullpen that has emerged and given us a lot of hope,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. “There’s some things to build around.”
— Rookie righthander Kyle Zimmer, a 2012 first-round pick, demonstrated waht he can do when healthy. He logged a 1.57 ERA in 16 relief appearances, but keeping Zimmer healthy remains an issue. He went on the 60-day injured list the final week of the season with right elbow ulnar neuritis with numbness and tingling in his fingertips.
— Righthander Alex Marsh, who was a second-round pick in 2019 out of Arizona State, was a late addition to the Royals’ alternate site. Marsh stayed active by making three appearances in the independent Constellation Energy League.
— The Royals also sent two other righthanders to their alternate site at the T-Bones’ park in Kansas City, Kan. Both were 2018 draft picks. They were righthander Jon Heasley, a 13th-rounder out of Oklahoma State, and second-rounder Jonathan Bowlan out of Memphis.