AL Notes: Bubic, Greene, Brnovich

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The Royals announced yesterday that they optioned left-hander Kris Bubic to Triple-A Omaha, with righty Jonathan Heasley taking his spot on the active roster.

Over the past couple of years, Bubic seemed to be establishing himself as a solid, if unspectacular, part of the club’s rotation. Over 2020 and 2021, he made 30 starts and nine appearances out of the bullpen, throwing 180 innings with a 4.40 ERA. His 21% strikeout rate, 10.4% walk rate and 46.8% ground ball rate were all within a few points of league average. However, just about everything has gone in the wrong direction this year, as his ERA is currently at 12.83, with his strikeout rate dropping to 14.7%, his walk rate jumping to 16.2% and his grounder rate sinking to 38.3%. He’ll now head to Omaha and try to get the train back on the tracks. Despite having over two years of MLB service time now, he’s still just 24 years old and has plenty of time to recover.

The team is off to a disappointing 10-19 start. Although Bubic and Carlos Hernandez have struggled in the rotation, the club’s biggest weakness so far has been the bats. The team-wide slash line of .216/.282/.308 amounts to a wRC+ of 76, dead last in the majors.

Some other notes from the American League…

  • During Spring Training, it seemed like the Tigers were poised to have their top two prospects crack the Opening Day roster. In the end, first baseman Spencer Torkelson followed through, but outfielder Riley Greene couldn’t make it after fracturing his foot just a few days before the opener. It seems he could be nearing a return to the field, with Jason Beck of MLB.com relaying word from manager A.J. Hinch that Greene is about to resume baseball activities. The club is out to a miserable 9-23 start, a worse record than every team except for the Cincinnati Reds. The primary culprit has been the offense, with Austin Meadows the only Tiger having a wRC+ higher than 101 in more than 50 plate appearances. There’s no guarantee a young player will hit the ground running in his first taste of MLB action, as evidenced by Torkelson’s .146/.276/.258 line, but it’s possible that Greene could provide a boost based on his .308/.400/.553 line in Triple-A last year. Since the demotion of Akil Baddoo, the outfield mix consists of Meadows, Willi Castro, Derek Hill and Robbie Grossman. With Grossman approaching free agency at season’s end, he’s a likely trade candidate, unless the Tigers can vault themselves back into contention over the next few months.
  • The Orioles announced that pitching prospect Kyle Brnovich underwent Tommy John surgery this week, as relayed by Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Brnovich was drafted by the Angels and traded to the Orioles as part of the Dylan Bundy deal before pitching for his original organization. Last year, he logged 95 innings across High-A and Double-A with a 3.32 ERA, 31.5% strikeout rate and 6.7% walk rate. Based on that strong season, he’s now considered the #30 prospect in the organization by Baseball America and #17 by FanGraphs. He started the year in Triple-A but was only able to throw eight innings before being shut down. He’ll now miss the remainder of this season, but could be pushing for a rotation spot in the second half of next year, given the usual 12-18 month recovery time from the procedure. Even with this setback, the club’s future rotation picture is starting to look better. Bruce Zimmermann, Tyler Wells and Kyle Bradish are showing signs of promise in the early going, to varying degrees, with prospects Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall pitching well in Triple-A and surely nearing their MLB debuts.



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