Lefthander Kris Bubic may have been the fourth college pitcher drafted by the Royals in 2018, but he emerged at the top of the class in 2019.
The former Stanford southpaw and supplemental first-round pick opened the season with nine starts at low Class A Lexington before earning a late-May bump to high Class A Wilmington, where he continued to dominate.
In consecutive mid-August starts, the 22-year-old Bubic threw a three-hitter against Fayetteville, allowing one run on three hits, and followed that with a one-hit shutout against Lynchburg. He struck out 11 and walked one in each contest, and in the second start he carried a no-hitter into the ninth before surrendering a leadoff single.
Through 23 starts, Bubic went 10-4, 2.24 with 174 strikeouts and 37 walks in 132.1 innings, while holding opponents to a .191 average.
“Kris repeats a deceptive delivery and has two above-average offspeed pitches with his curveball and changeup,” assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said. “His curveball is significantly better this year and has become a weapon for him.
“He will pitch with an above-average fastball up to 95 (mph) at times, but it’s how he uses his fastball that makes it an above-average pitch. He’s very smart, his pitch selection is excellent and that’s what leads to his strikeouts. We see him as a key part of our rotation in the near future.”
Bubic, who was chosen to the Futures Game in July, was the 40th overall selection in 2018 and signed for $1,597,500. He dominated the Cape Cod League in 2017, going 4-1, 1.65, when scouts graded his changeup as a plus-plus weapon.
“He’s maybe more of a JA Happ with a curveball instead of a slider,” Picollo said when prompted for comparisons. “His changeup is excellent but his improvement in his curveball has made a dramatic difference this year.”
— Khalil Lee, who did not turn 21 until June 26, remains the Royals’ top position prospect in the upper minors. Through 115 games at Double-A Northwest Arkansas he hit .261/.369/.368 with seven home runs. He led the Texas League with 62 walks, while his 50 stolen bases tied for the lead with former teammate Nick Heath, who was promoted to Triple-A Omaha.
— Rookie-level Burlington outfielder Burle Dixon hit for the cycle on Aug. 15 against Johnson City. Dixon, who was batting eighth, homered in his first at-bat, doubled in the third inning, singled in the fourth and tripled to lead off the eighth. The 20-year-old Sacramento native was a 19th-round selection in this year’s draft out of Cosumnes River (Calif.) JC. After a slow start, he had hit .340 (16-for-47) in his last 13 games.