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Royals Lefthander Anthony Veneziano Pops Onto Radar In 2021



It was in the final game of minor league spring training that Royals lefthander Anthony Veneziano popped onto the radar of many rival scouts.

With a 6-foot-5, 205-pound frame and a fastball up to 97 mph, the New Jersey native piqued the interest of multiple observers. Days later, Veneziano broke camp with High-A Quad Cities, where he spent the entire 2021 season.

Overall, Veneziano recorded a 3.75 ERA and 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings in 22 starts. Kansas City drafted him in the 10th round in 2019 out of Coastal Carolina.

Veneziano learned the ins and outs of the pro game during his 2019 season with Rookie-level Idaho Falls. He followed that by working hard in the weight room and carrying out informal bullpen sessions during the pandemic shutdown of 2020.

“(He) worked his butt off,” Royals director of pitching performance Paul Gibson said. “He got stronger and more flexible.”

The key factor in the 24-year-old lefthander's rise since turning pro has been cutting his college walk rate of 4.5 batters per nine innings to 3.2 in his two pro seasons. Veneziano attributes the improvement in his mechanics as the key factor.

“The biggest thing was repeatability and being consistent with my mechanics,” Veneziano said. “When I got to school, I had a lot of things thrown at me, mechanically-wise, so when I was out there on the mound, I was thinking about this and about that.”

Veneziano was encouraged by Quad Cities pitching coach Steve Luebber to simplify his approach on the mound.

“Once I kept it simple,” Veneziano said, “I was able to stay in my mechanics, stay repeatable, and I was able to start focusing on the hitter instead of my own mechanics.”

Veneziano still has plenty of development ahead of him, with Gibson mentioning the need to continue improving his fastball command.

“He’s a really good athlete,” Gibson said, “so I don’t expect that the fastball command consistency will be a problem . . . Once he figures that out, he’s going to be really good.”

ROYALTIES

— On the minor league free agent front, the Royals saw one infielder from the Dominican Republic leave the organization while another one came aboard. Jeison Guzman, 23, who signed with Kansas City for $1.5 million in 2015, agreed to terms with the D-backs on a minor league deal. The slick-fielding shortstop split the 2021 season between High-A and Double-A.

Joining the Royals organization is switch-hitting infielder Ivan Castillo, 26, who got into three MLB games with the Padres in 2021 but spent most of the season at Triple-A El Paso. Castillo also played winter ball in the Dominican League with Escogido.

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