Lynch IV makes cameo rehab start against prospects in Fall League

October 27th, 2023

PEORIA, Ariz. – The Arizona Fall League has a well-deserved reputation as a finishing school, a place where the best prospects in the game come on their way to the big leagues. On Thursday afternoon, though, the Surprise Saguaros gave the ball to an AFL alum who has already made it to the highest level.

Royals starter Daniel Lynch IV made a one-and-done cameo in the Fall League, where he pitched as one of the better left-handed prospects in the game in 2019, to get in some game action as he continues to work his way back from a shoulder injury that limited him to just nine starts with Kansas City in 2023. 

“I’m going to go and try to get some innings in the Dominican Winter League, so I just stopped by here to get a game in,” said Lynch, who allowed a run on four hits and one walk while striking out five over three innings. “I’ve been throwing live at home, just to get a game so I’m not going straight into there without throwing at all. Just a little tuneup. I figured this was an easy, controlled environment with good competition to get ready for it.”

Lynch threw 49 pitches, 28 for strikes. He was able to mix in all four of his pitches effectively, getting a pair of strikeouts with his slider, two on his changeup and one with his curve. He cranked his fastball up to 95 mph in the first inning and was largely sitting 93-94 mph over his first two frames before fatigue took a tick or two away in his third and final inning. The lone run came on a solo homer by No. 12 Padres prospect Jakob Marsee in the first.

“I was pleased with it,” Lynch said. “A lot of swing-and-miss. The fastball I thought was playing well, I thought my offspeed stuff was good, all for strikes. I was happy with how I commanded the ball. To be honest, not having thrown in a game for so long, I was pleased.”

Lynch’s changeup was particularly effective and he threw it to hitters on both sides of the plate. But given that he threw just 52 1/3 innings this year and hadn’t pitched for the Royals since July 18, he was the most pleased with the breaking stuff.

“I don’t want to say I expect it, but that one’s the one you say, ‘You kind of always have it,’” Lynch said of his changeup. “The slider is something I’ve been continually working on. I was really happy with that. I’m happy with the curveball, a couple of swings-and-misses on the curveball, some good strikes.”

Of course, more than any evaluation of his stuff, Lynch was happy his body, and more importantly his shoulder, feels 100 percent after it cost him much of what he had hoped would have been a strong second full season in the big leagues He made 15 starts during his rookie campaign in 2021 and 27 more in a full 2022 season, a total he wants to get back to.

“There’s been no issues with it,” said Lynch, who’ll be vying for a spot in the big league rotation next spring. “I’ve put on a lot of weight, put on hopefully some good muscle, but any weight’s fine. I’m just trying to get stronger and more resilient.”

That resilience was what was lacking this season. The 26-year-old southpaw didn’t have to change anything delivery-wise because of the shoulder issue, he just needs to continue to get it to the point where it can hold up under a full workload.

“My mechanics were good. I was moving really well and my shoulder wasn’t strong enough to sustain that,” Lynch said. “I’m making sure I get really strong and stick with it, make sure I’m sticking on a good program.

“I think the idea is that I really didn’t throw very much this year and the past two years, I threw a lot. I’m just looking towards next year, making sure my body has adapted, to not be shocked when hopefully I go out and make 30-plus starts and throw hopefully a lot of innings.”