Lacy is the bigger name of the two, having been selected with the fourth overall pick of the 2020 draft. Though he was the second pitcher taken — Miami selected University of Minnesota righty Max Meyer one pick earlier — Lacy was considered by many to be the top overall pitching prospect in the draft. The Texas A&M ace overwhelmed SEC hitters during his NCAA career, pitching to a cumulative 2.07 ERA with 13.3 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. Lacy was off to a blazing start in 2020, having pitched to a 0.75 ERA with an outrageous 46-to-8 K/BB ratio in just 24 innings when the season came to a halt (17.3 K/9, 3.0 BB/9).
Given his status as an elite college arm, there might be some fans who hope to see him in the big leagues as soon as 2020, although that still seems decidedly improbable. He’s a huge part of the Royals’ future and immediately became one of the organization’s top three prospects upon signing, but this is quite likely a developmental assignment for the 21-year-old. Kansas City has several prominent pitching prospects who are closer to the big leagues but have yet to receive their first promotion — most notably Jackson Kowar and Daniel Lynch. Top prospects Brady Singer and Kris Bubic have already debuted in 2020.
Hernandez, 23, is already on the Royals’ 40-man roster, so there’s a bit more of a chance that he’d see the big leagues this season, although that’s also a long shot. He’s never pitched above A-ball and has just 36 innings of experience at that level, although they were sharp ones. Hernandez missed a big chunk of last season while waiting on a fractured rib to mend, but once healthy he turned in a 3.50 ERA with 10.8 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 1.25 HR/9 and a 39.1 percent grounder rate in the Class-A South Atlantic League. MLB.com ranks him 12th among K.C. farmhands, noting that his velocity jumped into the upper 90s last season and also praising his potentially above-average curveball. The alternate camp assignment will give him some additional developmental time in the absence of a traditional minor league season in 2020.