On a hot and steamy evening in front of 4,915 Naturals fans, Josh Staumont flashed the pitcher he could be.
Staumont showed solid body control and a repeatable delivery throughout the night, with a slow pace and a ridiculously fast arm. The motion lacks deception in its pace, but the ball explodes from his hand and the cross body delivery gives it some deception. On this night, he got into a groove through five innings, retiring 11 in a row during a quickly played game.
Consistently 94 to 96 mph the entire night, he topped out at 99 mph several times and hit 98 versus the last batter he faced on the evening. The fastball is as good as any fastball that we have seen during the Dayton Moore era with it coming out of the hand easier than that of even Yordano Ventura. He was able to hit both sides of the dish on this evening while keeping the pitch low in the zone and elevating on a couple of occasions when he wanted to get a swing and a miss. Simply, this is the best fastball in the Royals minor leagues.
The curveball that Trackman tracked around 2300-2500 rpm (ML avg 2462) was controlled well and came in the high 70s to low 80s. It is a tight pitch that he can change forms with showing tight and late break or a bigger shape that lands late. The pitch pairs perfectly with this fastball in its change of pace, but also that it comes out of the hand smoothly with a velocity difference that changes eye level. Surprisingly, he seems to control this pitch better than the fastball, working it in the zone and burying it also. This is a plus curveball that has the ability to be a major league plus pitch.
Staumont didn’t feature the change up much but the couple that he did throw arrived in the zone in the high 70s with decent enough arm speed. It has late diving movement and could be worked on as his control with the fastball improves. It is a below average pitch currently but plays up with his slow paced motion on all his pitches. If he ends up in the bullpen, this pitch will get shelved, but if the control continues to come I think this pitch can work into average just based on the explosion in the two other offerings and the paced motion which will hide any discernible arm speed differences.
The three walks came on the leadoff batter and after a long home half of an inning; other than that, he had just one or two three ball counts during the outing. Finding his release point from a fresh or long rest is what he needs to work on to become a major league starter. He struggled with both on this evening maybe highlighting his lack of body control/perception.
From his mouth – The faster your arm moves the harder it is to find that consistent release point. For me it has been a little tougher but it is something we have been working on and we’re trying to find that perfect spot. For me it is working on the front side and keeping clean.
The journey is full of ups and downs and this year has seen my most ups and downs I’ve seen. It’s really nice to have the ability to pitch against such good hitters and improve your game. I can’t say enough about the Royals.
Evaluation – For a pitcher who struggles with control, I would like him to be more of a straight line coming to the plate but on this night it was fine. The stuff coming out of his hand is electric with the fastball being a plus plus pitch, the curve being above average and the change up playing up due to the fastball and pace of delivery. He has the pitches and body to become a #2 or 3 starter, but the control tosses him to the back end of a rotation or as a late inning reliever. A real project coming out of college Staumont has seen an incredible rise to make it to Double-A already. To be honest, I thought he would hover around Single-A all season much in the same way Cody Reed did in his first full season in the system. Like Reed, Staumont has a plus fastball and plus breaking ball, but the results have come slightly quicker for Josh.
Talent-wise Staumont is right there with Raul Mondesi as the two most talented players in the Royals system as his arm is a gift. This makes him a top 5 prospect in their system and the #1 pitching prospect in the organization. The next couple of years will decide whether he can make it as one of the few developed starters in the organization or wind up in the bullpen to replace a soon departing Wade Davis or Kelvin Herrera. This was just one start and we have seen that Staumont is just as likely to walk nine next time out as he is to repeat a double digit K performance but considering this his first full year in the system and growth can typically come after a full offseason, his development to this point is huge boon to the farm system.
Featured Photo – Josh Staumont photo by L Cruz (Lazonadeportiva)