The Royals have selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Steven Cruz, the team announced. Left-handed pitcher Taylor Hearn has been optioned to Triple-A to make room on the 26-man roster. Kansas City already had a free spot on the 40-man roster, which has now been filled.
Kansas City acquired Cruz in January as part of the trade that sent Michael A. Taylor to Minnesota. Earlier this summer, FanGraphs ranked him as the no. 39 prospect in the Royals organization, praising his elite fastball that touches triple digits. However, both FanGraphs and Baseball America have pointed out his shaky command, which has remained a problem in 2023; Cruz has walked 30 batters in 49 2/3 innings between Double- and Triple-A. The tall right-hander has also had trouble keeping runs off the board since his midseason promotion to Triple-A, pitching to a 6.88 ERA in 14 games. Nevertheless, now is as good a time as any for the Royals to see what they have in the young fireballer. They sit in the basement of the AL Central, but they still have plenty of innings to fill before the year is up.
Hearn has struggled since joining the Royals at the trade deadline. In eight games, the southpaw has given up seven earned runs on twelve hits and two home runs. He made 31 appearances (13 starts) for the Rangers last season, posting a high 5.13 ERA but a more palatable 4.18 SIERA and 0.9 FanGraphs WAR. However, he failed to make the big league club out of spring training this year, and despite his 3.66 ERA at Triple-A, the Rangers designated him for assignment in mid-July. The Braves swooped in and acquired Hearn for cash considerations before flipping him to the Royals for Nicky Lopez a few days later. He made three appearances for Triple-A Omaha before he was recalled to replace an injured Zack Greinke. Kansas City can retain Hearn through arbitration next season, but he will be out of minor league options.