MAY 2, 7:58PM: Jakob Junis will be moved from the rotation to the bullpen to make room for Lynch, GM Dayton Moore told MLB.com’s Anne Rogers and other reporters. Junis has a solid 3.47 ERA/3.35 SIERA and 28.7% strikeout rate over 23 1/3 innings this season, but Moore feels Junis can help strength a relief corps thinned by injuries.
6:00PM: The Royals announced that top pitching prospect Daniel Lynch will be called up on Monday. Lynch will make his MLB debut as the starting pitcher in tomorrow’s game against the Indians. K.C. has a full 40-man roster, so at least one corresponding move will have to be made to create room for Lynch on both the 40-man and the 26-man active roster.
The 34th overall pick of the 2018 draft, the left-handed Lynch has emerged as one of the more intriguing minor league arms in all of baseball, let alone in Kansas City’s farm system. Lynch is a consensus pick as a top-100 prospect, albeit within a fairly large range of projections — Keith Law (17th), MLB Pipeline (24th), Baseball America (25th) all have Lynch very high on their boards, while Fangraphs (61st) and Baseball Prospectus (70th) aren’t quite as optimistic.
Fangraphs’ scouting report still pegs Lynch as “a very safe mid-rotation sort” based on his fastball alone, which has increased in velocity during his short pro career. Lynch has hit the 99mph-threshold and regularly throws his fastball in the 95-97mph range. His slider is another plus pitch, and his changeup is also turning into a plus offering. “He’ll have to keep working on repeating his delivery to boost his command and control, but this is elite stuff from the left side,” Law writes.
The 24-year-old Lynch has a 2.74 ERA and 26.2% strikeout rate over 147 2/3 innings in the minors, but he’ll be making the jump to the Show without any Double-A or Triple-A experience. He was originally set to begin the 2021 season at Triple-A, but clearly the Royals are impressed by what they’ve seen from Lynch at Spring Training and at their alternate training site.
Should Lynch remain with the Royals for the rest of the season, enough time has passed on the calendar that the team will control his rights for an extra seventh year, so Lynch would be controlled through the 2027 season. However, it remains to be seen if Lynch is just getting a cup of coffee in the big leagues, perhaps as a fill-in for Brady Singer. During Friday’s game, Singer’s start was cut short after two innings after he took a hard comebacker off his left heel to conclude the second frame. X-rays were negative on Singer’s heel and he was expected to make his next scheduled start, though the Royals might be either considering a 10-day IL stint just to be cautious, or perhaps Singer could just be held back a day or two.