TDG’s Triple Play: Kansas City Royals!
The Triple Play is back for a third season! This regular feature is broken down by staff writers Bob Osgood and Paul Monte and a rotating panel of third writers. If you’re new to the Triple Play, this series breaks down an arm, a bat, and a prospect within each organization for your reading pleasure! Follow Paul (@3cardmonte13) and Greg Gibbons (@MidSports10) on twitter and read their analysis, as well as Tyler Burgess, here at the site!
Pitcher: Scott Barlow, Age: 27 , Position: RP
Analysis by: Greg Gibbons
Quick to Barlow is slow to pay
Desperate times, so let’s talk about a Royals reliever. Scott Barlow is not a household name, and he may never become one, but if you’re in a competitive dynasty league and enjoy speculating on future closers you’re in the right spot. Originally drafted as a starting pitcher by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the sixth round of the 2011 draft, Barlow bounced around the minors for a few years and missed some time due to Tommy John surgery, before becoming a free agent in 2017. He ultimately landed on a minor league deal with the Royals ahead of the 2018 season, where he put up less than impressive numbers in the Triple-A rotation. Heading into 2019 the Royals decided to work Barlow exclusively as a reliever and have not looked back. In his first full season for Kansas City, the 6’3’’ righty logged a 4.22 ERA over 70.1 innings pitched, with 92 strikeouts and 37 walks. Barlow brings a four-pitch mix which primarily features his elite slider and an above average four-seam fastball, both of which can carry him during his late inning appearances. He’s entrenched as a late inning option, and while his 2019 stats won’t jump off the page at you, there is plenty more to his story.
The only time I set the Barlow is for limbo
We generally don’t associate a 27-year-old as a prospect, but Barlow was still a rookie. He had a cup of coffee in early 2018 but didn’t stick with the big club and was relegated to Omaha for the remainder of the season. Back in 2019 as a full-time reliever, Barlow was a different pitcher. When a starter moves to the bullpen full-time we expect to see increases in velocity, and Barlow came through, posting sizeable velocity spikes on his fastball and slider which led to the high strikeout rates we covet, and he largely maintained these increases throughout the season.
While the velocity and strikeouts were a clear improvement, his control was still a clear problem. Through the all-star break, Barlow logged 36.1 innings and issued 17 free passes and six long balls, ending with a 1.54 WHIP and 6.19 ERA, not exactly equating to a reliable reliever, and certainly far from any fantasy radars. Like many rookies though, Barlow needed time to adjust to his new role and repertoire.
I’ll cut right to the chase. Barlow’s second half was brilliant, posting 2.12 ERA over 34.0 innings pitched with 40 strikeouts and zero home runs allowed. He settled nicely into his late innings role ahead of closer Ian Kennedy, and adjusted his pitch usage, ramping up on the sliders which led him to a 91st percentile overall finish in whiff rate and 83rd percentile finish in overall strikeout rate. His slider was particularly impressive, with a 42% whiff rate.
Despite notable improvements, Barlow still had 13.9% walk rate in the second half and finished the season in the bottom 10% of all pitchers in terms of walk rate. Although he improved his WHIP in the second half, walks will continue to hinder Barlow’s real life and fantasy upside.
The Royals bullpen is headlined by 35-year-old Ian Kennedy who is on the last year of his five-year contract, and some late-career revitalization projects in Trevor Rosenthal and Greg Holland, among others. For 2020, Kennedy is the fantasy option to own and will most certainly have the first crack at saves. After that is anyone’s guess, which is the main reason you should know about Scott Barlow. If we can see an uptick in control while maintaining the strikeout rates we saw in the second half of 2019, the only thing missing for Barlow from a fantasy perspective is opportunity. Saves are clearly sought-after in fantasy circles, and if you can hit on a speculative add, it’s instant value for your squad at little-to-no cost. Barlow is an intriguing arm to keep an eye on, and with Kansas City far from contending, a trade or injury might be all that’s needed.
Hitter: Salvador Perez, Age: 30, Position: C
Analysis by: Paul Monte
Put up your Dukes
Ranking season at The Dynasty Guru can bring on long, drawn-out “discussions” about certain players. This year two players stand out, Scooter Gennett and Salvador Perez. Since Gennett remains teamless I will not get a chance to write about him. Perez on the other hand is a Royal and guess who drew hitters for the Royals this week. The debate about the 30-year-old catcher was not unique to TDG, there are different opinions everywhere you look. Some of those opinions are very down on Perez and his ability to bounce back from his missed season due to Tommy John surgery. Others share the same opinion as mine in that Perez will be a top-five catcher in 2020 and a top 10 catcher for the next several seasons.
Reclaiming his Throne
The biggest knock on the six-time all-star catcher is that he has played so many games and that his body is breaking down. I happen to agree with that and that is why I love that new Royals manager Mike Matheny has hinted that we could see Perez play a lot of first base this season and in the future. Jorge Soler likely has most of the Designated Hitter at-bats locked down and the current 1B platoon consists of two Ryan’s, O’Hearn, and McBroom. Catcher is always a wasteland and the best seasons are from those who can collect the most at-bats. 2020 will be no different, though the DH being added to the National League does shrink the gap for guys like Grandal and Perez. JT Realmuto, Willson Contreras, and Will Smith are guys that could soak up some extra DH at-bats with the shortened season and expanded rosters.
Stats you can Countess on
The stats have been very consistent over the years and there is no reason to expect a large decline. If the return from TJS worries you and the home run ball from 2019 is no longer in use, worst case scenario you still get your 20 home runs, 70 RBI and 50 runs scored. Those numbers will be cut in half by the shortened season, but they are still very good numbers from the catcher spot. One big thing to remember as most leagues have turned to OBP instead of AVG. If you are in an OBP league, he takes a pretty big hit as he has not had an OBP north of .300 since 2013.
The Courts verdict
Perez is one of those guys who seems to be so much older than he is. He debuted as a 21-year-old and averaged over 140 games behind the plate from 2013 through 2016. His current cost assumes that he will not play anywhere near that amount of games, and that may be correct if you are just looking at games at catcher. The Royals are so bad that Perez at DH or 1B to help manage his workload makes a great deal of sense. I drafted him in almost all of my redraft leagues and picked him up where I could in leagues that he was dropped in 2019 while injured. In a startup draft (that was not OBP) I would still draft him as a top 8 catcher, ahead of guys like Mitch Garver and Omar Narvaez.
Prospect: Brady Singer, Age: 23, Position: SP, Level: Double-A
Analysis by: Tyler Burgess
The Brady Bunch
The Kansas City Royals were on a mission in the 2018 draft to build a foundation for their rotation of the future. They took Brady Singer with their first pick followed by Jackson Kowar, Daniel Lynch, and Kris Bubic. Now amid the absent 2020 season, it’s looking like all four of these hurlers could be seeing some sort of exposure to the majors as early as 2021.
Singer’s path to the Royals has been a bit of an adventure. Right out of high school, the Toronto Blue Jays selected Singer with their second pick of the First-Year Player Draft in 2015. Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, it was not meant to be as they were unable to reach a deal by the signing deadline. So, he did what any Brady would do and took his talents to Florida. Singer improved each of his three seasons with the Florida Gators, including a pitstop in the Cape Cod Baseball League where in 2016 Baseball America named him the top prospect of the CCBL.
His junior year underlined how far he’d come since he’d been selected by the Blue Jays. He finished that season with a 12-3 record, 2.55 ERA, a .203 batting average against, and was also named SEC Pitcher of the Year, among many other accolades.
Come the 2018 draft, the Royals selected Singer 18th overall and he signed on the dotted line (this time) for $4.25 million. He used some of that windfall to pay off his parents’ debts – what a guy!
Sing Me A Song, You’re The Singer Man
Now, I know you’re not reading this to hear about how Brady Singer is a nice guy, so let’s get to it.
At 6’5” and 210 pounds, Singer absolutely has the build of a workhorse major league starter. He was listed at 180-190 pounds in college, so it seems he’s added some bulk during his time with the Royals. He utilizes two plus fastballs – a 4-seamer that can hit the mid-90’s as well as a 2-seamer/sinker that sits in the low 90’s. He exhibits excellent control of both and uses them to set up his above-average slider as his main out pitch. He’s continued to develop his changeup to add some depth to this repertoire, which will be a key to his success in the big leagues.
After making the jump from High-A to Double-A in 2019 he didn’t miss a beat and continued to post strong strikeout and walk numbers for the remainder of the season (8.44 K/9, 2.58 BB/9).
The Royals gave Singer some starts in 2020 spring training with many speculating that he’d be given a crack at the back end of the big league rotation. Obviously, we can’t say for certain what the plan was, as we have no baseball to watch and nothing but time on our hands to speculate! It seems likely that he would have started the year in Triple-A with a possible call up in September, but we’ll have to wait and see.
He has the build, he has the tools, he has the fierce competitiveness that you’d want from a front line starter. He’s set up to succeed in the majors. My main concern is his repertoire. He needs to continue to work on his changeup in order to be successful long term and fulfill his potential. Without it, he could find himself in trouble as he works his way through a big-league lineup for the second and third time in a start. At this point, it’s difficult to say that he’s a lock to be a top-of-the-rotation guy. Some have compared him to Aaron Nola while others have pegged him as more of a third or fourth starter. The Nola comp is lofty – if you compare the stats, Nola’s control was far ahead of Singer at this point in his career. Even still, it’s an attainable comparison for Singer, but it feels like his ceiling. Without the development of a better changeup, Singer could find himself more as a mid-to-back of the rotation guy. But, by all accounts, he’s working on a new grip to help slow down his change and set it apart from his fastballs. If he’s able to make it work, we could see a rise in strikeouts.
In short, it feels like Brady Singer is going to be around for a long time and given his consistent K/BB production and potential to develop further. He should provide strong value to dynasty teams for years to come.
|NL WEST||NL CENTRAL||NL EAST|