Written by: Danny Hacker
Follow him on Twitter:@theGREATdanny94
Follow Prospects Worldwide on Twitter:@ProspectsWorldW
With the Royals off to a very surprising start in April, the team has once again acted on their philosophy of bringing up players when they are ready regardless of service time or any other considerations. This time it’s in the form of top pitching prospect Daniel Lynch who was called to make his debut vs the Cleveland Indians. Lynch is ranked the 3rd best prospect in the Royals system (2nd pitcher behind Lacy) according to the 2020 Royals Top 20 rankings.
Daniel Lynch was a part of the fabled 2018 Royals draft class that stacked college pitching at the front that included Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar, Kris Bubic and Jonathan Bowlan. Lynch was taken 34th Overall, the third of the quintet, out of University of Virginia and proceeded to immediately impress at Lexington with a 1.58 ERA, 1.025 WHIP, 10.6 K/9 and a 1.4 BB/9 in 9 starts (40.0 IP) capping off a great 2018. 2019 was similar after a promotion to Wilmington displaying his four pitch mix effectively before having an arm issue at the end in which he would have been promoted to AA like Kowar and Singer.
He then returned and had a great AFL before also dominating at the Alternate Training site during the pandemic filled 2020 season. He showed flashes of impressive work during spring training where his changeup looked better than ever (see below) before not making the team and was expected to open the season at AAA with Jackson Kowar before the news of his call up.
Like I mentioned above, Lynch has a four pitch mix where two of the four flash potentially plus, his changeup is solid and his curveball is average. His fastball has improved dramatically since joining pro ball, now getting it in the mid to upper 90s and it plays perfectly with his slider, his best secondary pitch. Lynch’s changeup has come a long way and was reported to be the essential focus of his work and training at the site during 2020 while his curveball is an average pitch and a good one to help set the others up if needed.
The Line: 4.2, 3 ER, 3 R, 4 H, 3 K, 4 BB on 74 Pitches (46 for strikes or 62%) and a 27% CSW%
The Pitch Breakdown:
|Pitch:||Number/%||CSW%||Avg Velo||Spin Rate|
|4 Seam Fastball||35 (47%)||23%||94.8 mph||2,306 RPM|
|Slider||28 (38%)||29%||85.5 mph||2,227 RPM|
|Changeup||9 (12%)||44%||84.6 mph||1,813 RPM|
|Curveball||2 (3%)||0%||80.0 mph||2,233 RPM|
Lynch’s fastball was thrown 47% of the time as shown above and was sitting 95-96 mph to start the game. In the first inning he also hit 97mph a couple of times as well which is normal Daniel Lynch velocity. Then in the 2nd and 3rd innings, the fastball started dipping into the 92-93 mph range as seen below in my tweet which I thought was really interesting because I wasn’t sure if that meant he was feeling something in his arm or if he just was really amped up and was trying to take something off to compensate for it to gain his control/command back some.
However in the 4th and 5th innings, the fastball velocity started to come back and overall sat in the 94-95 range. That makes me feel better that Lynch was able to “regain” the velocity back of sorts and didn’t just stay in that low 90s range the rest of the way. The fastball command was all over the place (a theme for the night) which was very unusual for him but he struggled with it a lot last night and as a result it didn’t play up as well as it normally would have. It’s still a plus pitch but ultimately will have to show that he can command it better if he wants to reach his lofty ceiling.
Lynch’s slider is his best off-speed pitch and really it’s not close. There were some really fantastic sliders that got some major whiffs and displayed the plus pitch it is but there were also some sliders that came in on a few hitters that almost hit them a couple of times and overall were really wild. Lynch’s control/command of the pitch was slightly better than the fastball but still not good for the most part. He did get Josh Naylor to essentially throw his bat at a slider for his first career strikeout but it still was pretty rough to watch at times, especially as the game went onwards.
Lynch confused a lot of people last night, including PitchingNinja himself, with his slider that, at times, looked like a spiked curveball but in reality, Lynch throws a spiked slider with a spike curveball grip so at times it looked potentially worse than it necessarily was. In order to reach his ceiling, Lynch is going to have to command it better and also mix up the variations more if that’s how he is going to try and keep hitters off balance.
Lynch’s biggest challenge that he said he worked on last summer was throwing his changeup more confidently. Last night, I did not see it really at all except for one distinct one seen below in my tweet. He tried to mix in the changeup every once in awhile to keep hitters off of him being just a FB/SL pitcher all night and it really didn’t work well. There’s not much to say about it because he didn’t really throw it at all but I really hope that he can become more confident in the pitch to make it one that gets roughly 17%-20% usage in his pitch mix and I think that’s essential to him fully reaching to be the pitcher he can be; I just didn’t see that at all last night which was unfortunate
Lynch only threw two curveballs all night so there’s nothing really to say about them at all because there wasn’t a good enough look at them to make a comment one way or another. His curveball has never really been an important pitch to his arsenal so it’s not like it’s stunningly shocking that he didn’t throw it basically at all last night. It’s an average, below average spin, curveball that really didn’t play because it had a totally different release point than the cluster of his pitches last night (see below) on top of the fact he doesn’t really use it at all. I would ideally like to see him throw it at least 7% of the time to see it more but if he isn’t comfortable with it, then just scrap it or barely use it to steal a strike (which didn’t happen last night) but it’s a possible outcome in the future.
Whew. That was a rough go around for Lynch’s control/command and it was completely uncharacteristic of the left handed pitching prospect. Yes he threw 62% of pitches for strikes but it was a mess otherwise and he had a very hard time finding the plate. I really want to just chalk it up to his nerves affecting him all around in his MLB debut but it’s definitely something to note regardless, especially if you’re already on the fence about him. Lynch went from 0-1/0-2 counts instantly to 3-1/3-2 and walked them more times than not. He had four walks on the short night and worked around them with the help of some fantastic defense. This was the central theme of the night and it really caused him to labor hard at times throughout. I expect him to fix his control/command as he gains more MLB experience but last night was not it at all.
Overall, I was disappointed by Lynch’s outing and it wasn’t because of the 3 ER on the line (two of his inherited runners came around to score once he got pulled). There were glimpses of the Lynch that can become a front line starter when it’s all said and done but there were also a lot of glimpses that he needs quite a bit more work to even become a relatively good starter, let alone an ace. I still believe in Lynch a lot, one outing won’t shake my belief, but not saying last night was pretty rough would be completely negligent. Lynch should hopefully stay around in Kansas City for the long haul in 2021 in the same way Bubic did last season to gain more experience and outings under his belt. There were a lot of lessons for Lynch to walk away with and he said he was really happy to have had the experience and to finally make it to the big league level. Now it’s time for him to show that he can be something more, a lot more, than what he displayed in his MLB debut.