The Royals have placed right-hander Brady Singer on the injured list and selected the contract of right-hander Jon Heasley from Double-A Northwest Arkansas, per a club announcement. An injury designation was not provided for Singer. The Royals already had a full 40-man roster but did not announce a corresponding move, suggesting that Singer is going on the Covid-19-related IL.
Heasley is expected to start tonight’s game in Singer’s place, tweets Alec Lewis of The Athletic. The 6’3″, 225-pound righty was Kansas City’s 13th-round pick back in the 2018 draft and has turned in a solid season in Double-A thus far. Through 105 1/3 innings, the 24-year-old had pitched to a 3.33 ERA with a 27.7 percent strikeout rate, a 7.9 percent walk rate and a 38.9 percent ground-ball rate.
Baseball America ranked Heasley as the Royals’ No. 17 prospect on its midseason reranking of the team’s farm system, and he’s listed 14th over at MLB.com. Both reports praise Heasley’s high-spin four-seamer, which tops out at 97 mph, and an above-average curveball. He throws a changeup and slider as well. Heasley hasn’t drawn as much national fanfare as teammates like Singer, Jackson Kowar, Daniel Lynch and Kris Bubic, but he gives Kansas City yet another young, MLB-ready rotation candidate for 2022 and beyond.
The Royals didn’t specify whether Heasley is being selected as a Covid-related replacement player for Singer, though making that designation would allow the team to return Heasley to the minors without needing to first pass him through waivers. However, Heasley would be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this offseason if not on the 40-man roster, so it’s likely the Royals would’ve added him within the next two months or so anyhow.
Singer, 25, is third on the Royals in both innings pitched and games started, trailing only Mike Minor and Brad Keller in that regard. He’s taken a step back from last season’s solid rookie debut, pitching to a 4.85 ERA with a 22.4 percent strikeout rate and 9.2 percent walk rate — both slightly worse than league-average — through 120 2/3 frames. Singer has been hampered by a .347 average on balls in play, however — an 87-point increase over last season’s .260 mark despite giving up less hard contact than he did a year ago. Metrics like FIP and SIERA feel he’s been essentially the same pitcher as in 2020, pegging him in the low-4.00 range.