The Royals’ rotation of the future is looking good -- now.
One night after No. 58 overall prospect Brady Singer took a no-hitter into the eighth inning, Royals No. 7 prospect Kris Bubic picked up his first Major League win in a 4-3 victory over Pittsburgh. Bubic allowed a career-best one run on six hits and two walks with six strikeouts over five innings.
It was the fifth time in Royals franchise history that rookie starters went at least five innings and allowed one run or fewer in back-to-back games. Kansas City has won four straight.
“It's obviously pretty fun to know you're in the win column,” Bubic said, “but without the team effort tonight, getting the early runs, without that, this doesn't happen. But definitely glad to enjoy it a little bit and glad to celebrate another win tonight. I'm glad we're on a roll here.”
The Pirates put two runners on in the second, when Colin Moran drew an eight-pitch leadoff walk and Josh Bell followed with a single. But Bubic (1-5) extinguished the threat with three straight strikeouts, getting Jacob Stallings, Adam Frazier and Cole Tucker with four-seam fastballs.
Those three finishing pitches were above or high in the zone. They weren’t fireballs because Bubic is not known for that; his fastball averaged 90.5 mph against the Pirates. Both he and Royals manager Mike Matheny agreed that location, not velocity, will be what helps the left-hander get outs as his career progresses. A commanded fastball will set up his curveball and changeup. Bubic, though, felt his command during the second, third and fourth innings was about as bad as it's been this year.
“You gotta do what you gotta do when you get in those bad spots,” Matheny said.
The only damage Bubic sustained came in the fourth, at which point he already had a three-run lead on RBIs from Adalberto Mondesi and Maikel Franco. Moran and Bell singled on two-strike pitches and Stallings delivered an RBI double to left field. Again, Bubic buckled down and retired the next three batters, needing only six pitches. This time, off-speed offerings produced two of the outs.
The same was true of Bubic’s fifth and final frame, which was sulliied only by one of Ke'Bryan Hayes' two singles on the night. The second-ranked Pirates prospect is hitting .357 in his first eight games.
“The fifth inning, I kind of found the rhythm that I know I have in me,” Bubic said. “The fastball was better, more consistently in the lower quadrant of the zone. Curveball, those were probably some of the best curveballs I've thrown through the entirety of this season. Like I said, the changeup is going to play off the fastball, and how well I command my fastball is how effective the chanegup will be to get swing and misses or weak contact. But, yeah, good to finish on a stronger note in that one inning, but I would like to make my life a little easier in the first few.”
That progress mirrored how Bubic has continued to one-up himself after failing to complete the fourth inning on Aug. 23. In three starts since, he’s recorded a season-best eight strikeouts, gone a season-high seven innings and, now, found himself in the win column for the first time.
The latest outing could be considered the southpaw's best following his jump from Class A Advanced Wilmington to the Majors. The Stanford product, whom Kansas City selected with the 40th overall pick in the 2018 Draft, began his first full season at Class A Lexington. He made nine starts for the Legends, posting a 2.08 ERA over 47 2/3 innings while striking out 41 percent of the batters he faced.
That dominance earned him a promotion to the Carolina League, where he continued to shove. Bubic won seven of his 17 starts, put up a 2.30 ERA in 101 2/3 innings and struck out 28.1 percent of the batters he faced. He racked up a Minors-best 185 punchouts across the two levels, the most by a Royals prospect since 2000. And he capped the year with two strong postseason starts as the Blue Rocks won the Mills Cup.
Bubic fanned a 11 in an elimination game during that run. He’s shown a knack for stepping up when it’s required.
“He's got a lot of weapons,” Matheny said. “He's got a lot of ways that he can go to get guys out. He executed when he needed to today.”
In other action:
Phillies 11, Marlins 0 (1st game)
Top Phillies prospect Alec Bohm entered Friday hitting .359 when batting eighth, and he continued to produce in that spot in the opener of a doubleheader in Miami. The 24-year-old posted his third multi-hit effort in four days, going 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored. Nine of the Phillies’ 11 runs -- eight earned -- were charged to ninth-ranked Marlins prospect Trevor Rogers . The left-hander struck out five and didn’t walk a batter over three-plus innings, but he was tagged for nine hits, including a pair of homers. Fourth-ranked Marlins prospect Jazz Chisholm struck out in his only at-bat. Box score
Marlins 5, Phillies 3 (2nd game)
Rookie Daniel Castano set the Marlins up for a doubleheader split by yielding an unearned run over 3 2/3 innings. He scattered five hits while walking one and striking out one, knocking his ERA down to 3.32 in five Major League stars. Top Phils prospect Alec Bohm went 2-for-3 with a double, bringing his slash line up to .323/.374/.458 in 96 at-bats Box score
Nationals 8, Braves 7 (12 innings)
After Daniel Hudson squandered a three-run lead in the ninth, two rookie right-handers guided the Nats through three scoreless extra frames. Kyle Finnegan gave up a hit and a walk over two innings and No. 25 prospect James Bourque survived two free passes in the 12th to pick up his first Major League win. He’s yet to allow a run in three appearances. Washington’s top two prospects, Carter Kieboom and Luis Garcia, combined to go 0-for-9. Box score
Athletics 10, Rangers 6
Three of Texas’ top seven prospects were in the lineup against Oakland, including catcher Sam Huff in his big league debut. The No. 75 overall prospect was 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts. Third-ranked Rangers prospect Leody Taveras singled, walked, stole a base and scored a run, while No. 7 Anderson Tejeda went 2-for-4 to lift his average up to .291 in 31 at-bats. Box score
Brewers 1, Cubs 0
Brewers rookie Devin Williams struck out Ian Happ and Anthony Rizzo in a scoreless eighth inning. He stranded Kris Bryant at third after the Cubs third baseman laced a two-out triple. Tyrone Taylor, Milwaukee's 23rd-ranked prospect, was 0-for-2 with a walk. The 26-year-old owns a 1.145 OPS through eight games this season. Box score
Reds 3, Cardinals 1
Although the Reds got to Adam Wainwright for three runs in six innings, the St. Louis bullpen didn’t allow a baserunner. No. 27 prospect Seth Elledge pitched a perfect seventh and fellow rookie Nabil Crismatt tossed a perfect ninth. Sixth-ranked Reds prospect Jose Garcia went 0-for-4 with two punchouts and is hitting .143 in 42 at-bats. Box score
D-backs 4, Mariners 3
Fifth-ranked Mariners prospect Evan White walked and scored a run. The first baseman will exceed rookie limits with two more plate appearances. M's rookies Yohan Ramirez and Anthony Misiewicz each threw a scoreless inning out of the bullpen. Box score
Yankees 10, Orioles 1 (2nd game)
After dominating the Yankees in his previous start, Orioles No. 15 prospect Keegan Akin received a difficult reception in the Bronx. The 25-year-old southpaw didn’t get out of the first inning, retiring two batters and allowing four runs on three hits and a walk with a punchout. Akin has a 4.61 ERA in five appearances, including three starts, with 16 strikeouts over 13 2/3 innings. Fifth-ranked O's prospect Ryan Mountcastle went hitless in five at-bats across the doubleheader, taking an 0-for-3 with two punchouts in the nightcap. Box score
Mets 18, Blue Jays 1
Andrés Giménez got in on the blowout with an RBI double in the ninth inning, his only hit in five at-bats. The third-ranked Mets prospect dealt with a scare but remained in the game after he took a pitch off the protective padding on his left hand in the third. Giménez is batting .287/.340/.426 with seven extra-base hits and seven stolen bases in 37 games this season. Blue Jays No. 21 prospect Santiago Espinal recorded a hit in three at-bats, then take the mound to pitch the ninth, giving up the double to Gimenez. Eleventh-ranked prospect Anthony Kay, who was part of the return in the Marcus Stroman trade, struggled against his former organization. The 25-year-old lefty surrendered six runs -- five earned -- on four hits and two walks while recording two outs. Box score
Rays 11, Red Sox 1
Bobby Dalbec’s streak of five games with a homer came to an end, but the third-ranked Red Sox prospect stayed hot at the plate. He collected a pair of hits, plating Boston’s lone run with a ninth-inning double, and drew a walk. The 25-year-old infielder is batting .282 with six homers, 11 RBIs and a 1.118 OPS in 39 at-bats. Box score
White Sox 4, Tigers 3
Third-ranked White Sox prospect Nick Madrigal went 0-for-3 but drove in a run with a sixth-inning groundout. No. 25 Codi Heuer pitched a 1-2-3 eighth for his fifth consecutive scoreless outing, lowering his ERA to 2.16 across 16 2/3 innings this season. Casey Mize, the second-ranked Tigers prospect, held the White Sox hitless until Yolmer Sánchez doubled with nobody out in the sixth. MLB Pipeline’s No. 7 overall prospect was lifted after Madrigal’s groundout and was charged with a pair of runs on one hit and two walks while striking out five over 5 1/3 innings. Mize has a 5.85 ERA through five big league starts. Seventh-ranked Tigers prospect Daz Cameron recorded his first hit in the Majors, driving in a pair of runs with a sixth-inning double, and No. 6 Isaac Paredes went hitless in four at-bats. Box score
Rockies 8, Angels 4
Rockies No. 18 prospect Josh Fuentes delivered a pair of hits and scored twice. The 27-year-old infielder is batting .313/.343/.500 with a homer and six RBIs through 32 at-bats this season. Box score
Twins 3, Indians 1
Ryan Jeffers clubbed a seventh-inning solo shot for his second homer of the season. The sixth-ranked Twins prospect improved to .289/.372/.447 with four RBIs and has recorded a hit in three consecutive games. Indians No. 17 prospect James Karinchak struck out the side in the eighth. It was the sixth outing in which the right-hander, who owns a 2.57 ERA, recorded every out via strikeouts. Box score
Joe Bloss is a contributor for MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @jtbloss.