Nathan Webb Is About To Come Full Circle
When he was in high school, righthander Nathan Webb landed his dream summer job of working on the grounds crew at Kauffman Stadium.
Fast-forward several years and Webb was one of five players the Royals added to their 40-man roster at the Nov. 19 reserve roster deadline. Kansas City drafted him out of local Lee's Summit High in the 34th round in 2016.
Webb landed his dream job with the help of one of his friends, who is the son of longtime head Kauffman groundskeeper Trevor Vance. Webb and a few of his high school teammates were hired for part-time work over multiple summers.
“For the first job, I really couldn’t ask for anything better,” Webb said. “Being around baseball, being on the baseball field and in the middle of the game dragging the field was really cool.”
Those groundskeeping skills came in handy during the pandemic downtime in 2020 when he built a pitcher’s mound in his family’s backyard.
Back in action in 2021 with stints at Low-A Columbia and High-A Quad Cities, the 24-year-old reliever's velocity ticked up in part because of the weight work he did to strengthen his legs as well as his backyard mound sessions.
Webb's fastball now sits 96-98 mph and regularly touches 100. Webb fanned 89 batters in a combined 59.1 innings while walking just 21 in a season that culminated with a High-A Central championship.
“I made some mechanical adjustments that really helped me with throwing more strikes and being able to command my fastball,” Webb said. “Just knowing that my mechanics would allow me to repeat my slider, my fastball and my changeup . . . building that confidence to be able to throw them in any count no matter the situation.”
Considering his progress in the last two years, Webb may not be far away from making his MLB debut on the very field that he used to drag as a teenage groundskeeper.
— Righthander Collin Snider was a surprise addition to the 40-man roster. The Vanderbilt product had a velocity jump this year, with his power sinker sitting 97 mph and touching 99. Just as important was adding movement to his slider.
— An intriguing arm in the Royals system belongs to 27-year-old Dominican righthander Jose Cuas, who signed with the Royals in June out of the MLB partner Atlantic League. He posted a 1.51 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 41.2 innings across three levels, with the bulk of his season spent at Double-A Northwest Arkansas. Cuas returned home to pitch in the winter Dominican League.
Cuas grew up in New York and attended Maryland, which is where the Brewers drafted him from in the 11th round in 2015. After beginning his career primarily as a third baseman, Cuas converted to the mound in 2018.