The Omaha Storm Chasers aren’t off to a great start in 2014, but two outliers of the team’s current mediocrity now reside in the bullpen. Neither Buddy Baumann or Spencer Patton are big-name talents or high-round draft picks, but they both are posting incredible pitching numbers right now in the Pacific Coast League. If anyone from the Kansas City Royals‘ current cast of relievers falls prey to injury or just an inability to get outs, one of these two unknown ballplayers could see the majors this year.
Spencer Patton probably didn’t expect to even sniff the big leagues after being selected in the 24th round by KC in 2011. Since then, he’s rolled straight through every level from the Rookie Pioneer League until reaching the Triple-A Pacific Coast League this season. He’s given up only two runs and struck out 11 in seven appearances with Omaha in 2014. That may be a small sample size, but scouts say Patton already possesses a big-league slider and can accurately locate his fastball, which tops out in the low 90’s.
Patton isn’t the only little-known reliever getting off to a great start in Omaha. Buddy Baumann was drafted in the seventh round in ’09, and he immediately led the Wilmington Blue Rocks, KC’s Carolina League club, in strikeouts with 113 in his first full season of pro ball. Patton found success at every level and in nearly every pitching role on his way to relief duty for Omaha this year. He already recorded a 2.76 ERA in 49 innings of relief as a Storm Chaser last season.
It’s still too early to say if any big-league Royals relievers will struggle enough to force a change, or if someone in the minors will force KC’s hand by continuing to dominate. Danny Duffy is nigh-untouchable since joining the Royals’ pen, and Aaron Crow is also still without an earned run allowed. Regardless, there is some comfort in knowing KC has at least a good story to see through if a reliever needs a long-term replacement this season.