'Huge strides' have Lynch more confident

February 19th, 2021

Royals manager Mike Matheny noticed something different about the way prospect took the mound for his recent bullpen sessions at the Royals’ Spring Training complex in Surprise, Ariz.

There was a confidence surrounding the 24-year-old that hadn’t quite shone through this time last year at Lynch’s first big league camp.

“Daniel looks completely different 365 days later than what we saw him last year,” Matheny said. “And part of that is a little bit of edge. He wanted to be a part of what we were doing last year. Part of that is our development team, and our pitching development did a really good job. Stuff’s been there. It’s been fine-tuning some of the idiosyncrasies and some even away from the ball as far as his demeanor, as far as his presence. Things that do start relaying into consistency.

“That was really what was in Daniel’s way, like so many other guys, those young players -- what’s keeping you from being consistent with that stuff? Because that stuff’s big league stuff. Daniel made some huge strides on chipping away at some of those things.”

Lynch was one of eight pitchers scheduled for bullpens Thursday, joining , , , , , and . Lynch, Kowar and Hernández are three names to keep an eye on this spring, not only for their high prospect rankings -- MLB Pipeline has them No. 3, No. 4 and No. 9, respectively -- but also for what they could mean to the Royals in 2021.

Hernández made his debut last season, making three starts and two more appearances out of the bullpen. He struck out 13 in 14 2/3 innings with a 4.91 ERA and seems poised to help the staff again this year.

Lynch and Kowar spent the season at the Royals’ alternate training site and could see their debuts sometime in 2021, joining and as part of the 2018 Draft class, which was heavy on collegiate arms, in the Majors.

Part of Lynch’s confidence this season is because of another year’s worth of experience. And part of it is because of the strides he took over the summer, where he focused on his changeup and became comfortable throwing it against hitters on both sides of the plate. The 6-foot-6 lefty also improved his delivery while maintaining the power he has shown since Kansas City made him the No. 34 overall pick in the 2018 Draft.

“Daniel is standing up there, and as soon as he takes the ball, he’s got a clear plan on what he’s wanting to do,” Matheny said. “When you have the IQ that he has, you have a tendency of overanalyzing, overthinking. I’m seeing less of that already to where he’s trusting himself. … He proved to himself through that secondary site, and what we saw from him in the fall -- you’re sending Major League hitters down, I’m getting them out. I’m competing against a whole bunch of guys who played at the upper levels in the Minor Leagues and I’m having success here. I’m getting challenged to use pitches that I normally wouldn’t throw.

“When I look at Daniel Lynch right now, and he’s down on the mound, it looks like he’s checked some boxes in his own mind that has given him some confidence to stand up there. We can tell them all they want, but until they experience some of these things on their own … I just see a more mature pitcher standing up there, and I think he’s going to be better for it in the long run.”

Minor League schedule announced
The Royals’ four Minor League affiliates now have games to look forward to in 2021. Major League Baseball announced the Minor League schedule on Thursday, with the Triple-A season scheduled to begin on April 6 for a 142-game season. The Double-A season is scheduled to begin on May 4 for a 120-game season.

With one of the top farm systems in baseball, Kansas City in particular is grateful to have Minor League baseball back. The organization will do all it can to make up for lost development time for the players who weren’t able to be in the 60-man player pool last summer, while being especially cautious with young pitchers who will have increasing workloads throughout the farm system.

Along with the restructuring of the Minor Leagues, teams will only play against divisional opponents this year to reduce travel. Triple-A Omaha will play in the Triple-A East division against Columbus (Indians), Indianapolis (Pirates), Iowa (Cubs), Louisville (Reds), St. Paul (Twins) and Toledo (Tigers).

Here are when and where the Royals’ affiliates will be to start their seasons:

Triple-A Omaha: April 6 at Toledo
Double-A Northwest Arkansas: May 4 at Arkansas
Class A Advanced Quad Cities (Iowa): May 4 at South Bend
Class A Columbia (S.C.): May 4 at Augusta

Worth noting

• Matheny didn’t have an update on when Asa Lacy, Josh Staumont, Carlos Sanabria and Andres Sotillet would be in camp. All were delayed in reporting for undisclosed reasons.