KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The future is now for the Kansas City Royals.
With their rotation dangerously thin after the temporary losses of Brad Keller and Jakob Junis, Kansas City is going with youth as one replacement, announcing that right-hander Brady Singer will make his Major League debut Saturday in Cleveland.
Singer, 23, is the Royals’ No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline and was the team’s first-round draft pick out of Florida in 2018.
“He earned it,” said Royals manager Mike Matheny. “He came in here and he made us watch him and how well he competed. Every bullpen, every outing, his training, this kid ... everything lined up that this kid is ready.
“And his stuff validated everything. And we appreciate the organization being aggressive.”
The Royals have traditionally not been a team that manipulates service time for its prospects, and this is yet another example. The team could have waited six more days to put Singer on the active roster in order to gain an extra year of club control.
“That always goes into the equation,” Matheny said. “But as evaluators and coaches, we give feedback on what we see and what are the needs of the team. We’re very grateful that the organization wants to be aggressive and give us the best shot at winning right away.”
It’s interesting, too, that the Royals decided to have Singer make his debut against a tough lineup such as Cleveland’s, rather than the rebuilding Tigers, when the Royals travel to Detroit for four games in the ensuing series.
“His ability to use the changeup now was a factor, being able to use that as a third pitch,” Matheny said. “He’s got good instincts and he is smart on how to use his pitches.”
Matheny said right-hander Jesse Hahn, who was scheduled to start Wednesday’s exhibition finale against the Cardinals, had to return home after getting the news that his mother had unexpectedly passed away.
The Cardinals held a moment of silence for her at Busch Stadium before the game.
Right-hander Kyle Zimmer started in place of Hahn in what became a bullpen day.
Designated hitter Jorge Soler had to return home for a family matter, but is expected to join the team Friday in Cleveland for Opening Day.
Randy Rosario, who was expected to be the top lefty out of the bullpen now with Tim Hill traded, is dealing with some arm issues and will not be on the Opening Day roster.
First baseman Ryan O’Hearn, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in camp, has been cleared to resume baseball activities, but will not come off the injured list. He will work out at the team’s alternate training site at T-Bones Stadium in Kansas City, Kan.
Left-hander Danny Duffy will make his third Opening Day start and first since 2018 when the Royals meet the Indians tonight at Progressive Field. Right-hander Shane Bieber will pitch for Cleveland. Bieber has a 3.22 career ERA against the Royals in five games, while Duffy was 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA against Cleveland in 2019.