KANSAS CITY—Brooks Pounders had a nomadic 2015, pitching in five different leagues and three countries.
Pounders, a 6-foot-5, 270-pound righthander, began his itinerary with five starts in the Rookie-level Arizona and Pioneer Leagues. He advanced to high Class A Wilmington and finished with Double-A Northwest Arkansas, posting a 2.08 ERA in his final four starts. Overall, he had a 2.50 ERA in 15 starts.
After the season, Pounders made three Arizona Fall League starts, where in 12 scoreless innings he struck out 14 with no walks.
“I see a lot of great things next year for him,” said Saguaros pitching coach Carlos Reyes, who is a Royals minor league pitching coach. “He’s really throwing the ball well. He’s growing into a great pitcher.”
Reyes said Pounders’ working fastball was 94-95 mph, but touched 97. He also throws a curve, changeup and slider.
“He’s got pretty much above-average stuff,” Reyes said. “He just uses all of his pitches well. He’s one of those guys that really knows what he’s doing. He competes. He just has an idea of pitching up there. That’s always nice to have. He knows what he wants out there. He’s got a game plan. He attacks the hitters.
“I definitely see him in the top three in the rotation. He’s got the mentality. He’s got the stuff. He wants the ball. He’s got great size. He’s got a good power arm.”
Jose Rosado, the Yankees’ Double-A Trenton pitching coach and also a Saguaros pitching instructor, liked what he saw.
“He’s got a bright future,” Rosado said. “He’s got a good life on his fastball. He’s a strong, big kid. I talked to him a little bit, not only just get to the big leagues, but to stay he really has to take care of his body. His weight is the only thing that would concern me. But I think he’s in the right direction.”
After the AFL, Pounders joined the USA Premier 12 team, pitching in Taiwan and Tokyo. He will likely begin 2016 back with the Naturals, but could open with Triple-A Omaha with a strong spring training.
• The Royals signed righthander Dillon Gee, the Mets’ 2014 Opening Day starter, to a minor league contract.
• Jamie Quirk, who had three different stints as a player with the Royals and was on their major league coaching staff from 1994-2001, is returning as the Wilmington manager.