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Richard Lovelady Keeps Things Funky

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When lefthander Richard Lovelady was a reliever for two years at East Georgia State JC, he said he had no thoughts about being drafted.

"I didn’t even know anything about it,” the 23-year-old said.

Lovelady's mid-80 mph fastball was not attracting scouts, but he did get an offer from Kennesaw State. Making 37 relief appearances in 2016, he recorded a 2.96 ERA with 52 strikeouts in 45.2 innings—and his velocity increased.

A three-inning relief appearance at Georgia that spring put Lovelady on the draft radar. He struck out seven that day while allowing no hits or runs.

"I never heard from anybody from the Kansas City Royals,” Lovelady said. "Nobody even called or offered me a card—no nothing."

But the Royals called the 6-foot, 175-pound reliever's name in the 10th round.

"It’s almost like, 'Where did these guys come from?' I’m happy to be (with the Royals). It’s been a great ride so far.”

Lovelady rose quickly through the Royals' system, reaching Double-A Northwest Arkansas in 2017 and the big leagues this April. He is the first player from Kansas City's 2016 draft class to reach the major after spending all last season at Triple-A Omaha.

Loveday’s fastball sits in the low 90s and bumped 95 mph in the big leagues. His slider has improved to become a plus pitch. When the big league bullpen struggled to start the season, Lovelady was called up.

In junior college, he was told he never used his legs when he pitched.

"So I started to exaggerate and started to jump when I pitched," Lovelady said. "That’s where in all honesty the velocity came from. That’s where it continued to grow.”

Lovelady has a funky delivery that gives hitters fits.

"It’s a jump (toward the batter), lower arm slot, three-quarters—and it’s kind of weird,” he said. "I had players come up to me and say, ‘Dude, I couldn’t see the ball. Dude, I thought you were going to come at me halfway to the plate.’

"It’s just a weird angle. It’s doing pretty well, so I figure why change?”

ROYALTIES

— Omaha shortstop Nicky Lopez started the season 0-for-14 in his first four games. In his next 11 games he went 19-for-48 (.396) with six multi-hit games, including three straight three-hit games.

— Low Class A Lexington lefthander Kris Bubic struck out 27 hitters through his first three starts and 16 innings. The 2018 supplemental first-rounder out of Stanford averaged 12.6 strikeouts per nine innings last season at Rookie-level Idaho Falls.

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