The Royals have recalled left-handed pitcher Scott Alexander and right-handed pitcher Jake Junis from AAA Omaha. The moves were made after pitcher Matt Strahm and outfielder Terrance Gore were sent down earlier this week.
The 24-year old Junis is on the Major League roster for the first time. He was originally a 29th round pick in 2011 out of high school in Rock Falls in northern Illinois. Junis struggled initially, but he has improved upon each promotion in the minor leagues. Last year for AA Northwest Arkansas, Junis had a 3.39 ERA as a starting pitcher, with 117 strikeouts in 119 innings and just 2.0 walks per-nine-innings before a promotion to AAA Omaha. He features a fastball that sits in the low-90s with a curveball and change up. He has always shown good command, and showed an impressive spike in strikeout rate last season. He was ranked as the #13 prospect in the system by John Sickels and the #8 prospect in the system by Shaun Newkirk, who wrote:
I had Junis among one of my 10 breakout prospects last year and he broke out, posting his best strikeout rate of his career in AA and then keeping up good rates in AAA. It’s more 50’s across the board but it’s a bunch of present 50’s than projections like with Nolan Watson. His changeup could use a small bump but he’s a near ready #4/5 starter.
If Royals do call up Junis, I think the stuff plays a bit better out of the bullpen than rotation (duh) but enough that RP could be his home— Shaun Newkirk (@Shauncore) April 12, 2017
The left-handed Alexander has been up with the Royals in brief stints in both 2015 and 2016. The 27-year old has a 3.60 ERA in 25 career Major League innings with 19 strikeouts and 10 walks. The former Sonoma State pitcher had a 3.00 ERA in 30 innings for Omaha last year, and had thrown two shutout innings for them this year after an impressive spring training.
Both pitchers will work out of the bullpen, giving Ned Yost eight relievers to work with. Since both were on the 40-man roster, the Royals do not need to clear any room on the 40-man roster.