Scooped up by the Royals in a draft that saw them acquire both Jackson Kowar and Brady Singer in the first round, Daniel Lynch could end up rounding out this trio in a big-league rotation in a few years.
The Virginia starter signed for $1,697,500 as the 34th-overall pick in this year’s draft, immediately after Kowar, having compiled what were unremarkable career numbers over his first two years with the school. A spike in strikeouts (105 in 88 2/3 IP), along with a continuing drop in opponents’ OBP (.265, down from .281 in 2017 and .317 in 2016), were promising signs for the 6’6” lefty, who brings with him a four-pitch arsenal and strong command.
After a very short stint at rookie-league Burlington (1.59 ERA in 3 starts, 11 1/3 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 14 K), Lynch was promoted to Low-A Lexington, where he has picked up momentum (1.55 ERA in 6 starts, 29 IP, 5 ER, 5 BB, 31 K).
With especially-tall pitchers, extra attention is sometimes paid to mechanics. Lynch is reasonably compact in his windup, and repeats his motion with ease. After a high leg kick, he consistently keeps his lead shoulder closed until he’s planted, then there’s a bit of cross-body action as he follows through. He will plant heel-first, at times, and fall slightly toward third, but it doesn’t seem to affect his command.
His height and relatively-high arm slot and release point give him excellent leverage, and it’s a release that is consistent with all four pitches. His fastball sits 90-92, with slight run at times, and he spots it well vs. both lefties and righties. He throws two distinct breaking pitches: an 11-5 curve anywhere from 76-80, and a slider at 80-83 that he spots on the corner vs. righties and starts mid-to-outer-third of the zone vs. lefties. As strange as it may sound, the two are sometimes hard to differentiate; there is little separation in speed, and their movement sometimes appears similar. His changeup, coming in around 83-84, could potentially become his best off-speed offering, as it has good late tail and sink, and his arm speed disguises it well.
It’s doubtful that Lynch will spend much time lingering in Low-A, since he enters pro ball with a broad selection of pitches in comparison to many pitchers at this level, and exercises consistent command over all of them. There is a great deal of projection remaining in his frame, and with it the possibility of a bump in velocity. Lynch is definitely a high-floor type of prospect, and appears to be ready-made for a 3-4 spot in KC’s rotation. A full-season ETA of 2021 is probable.