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Royals' Bubic elevates his game again

No. 7 Royals prospect allows two runs, fans six in second outing
Kris Bubic was named Fans' Choice for best starting pitcher in 2019 after dominating two levels of the Minors. (Orlin Wagner/AP)
August 6, 2020

Much like in his first two professional seasons in the Minors, Kris Bubic continues to improve each time out. The seventh-ranked Royals prospect took the big league hill for the second time Wednesday and flashed better command of his arsenal, allowing two runs on four hits and a pair of

Much like in his first two professional seasons in the Minors, Kris Bubic continues to improve each time out.

The seventh-ranked Royals prospect took the big league hill for the second time Wednesday and flashed better command of his arsenal, allowing two runs on four hits and a pair of walks while punching out six over six frames, but it was not enough as the Royals were upended by the Cubs, 6-1, at Kauffman Stadium.

“For me, the big emphasis after my last game was to get that fastball command,” Bubic told reporters after the game. “So in the bullpen before the game, I really tried to get a feel for my body and my arm and release the ball in front of me.

“It’s funny that my curveball in the bullpen was pretty bad. First three or four were about 45 feet, and Salvy [Perez] couldn’t even block them. But it was good in the game.”

In his Major League debut Friday against the White Sox, the southpaw lasted only four frames, giving up three runs -- two earned -- on three hits and a walk with three strikeouts.

Bubic was locked in from the get-go against the Cubs. He needed just nine pitches to navigate through the opening frame -- inducing a fly ball to center field on a first-pitch fastball to Kris Bryant before fanning Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez.

The 22-year-old retired the first nine batters he faced -- whiffing four -- and the only frame he ran into any trouble in was the fourth.

After Bryant led off with a single into right, Rizzo worked a five-pitch walk. An RBI single off the bat of Baez put Chicago on the board, and although Bubic induced a double-play ground ball from Willson Contreras, Rizzo scored from third on the play to give the Cubs a lead they would not relinquish.

“It was an unlucky inning for me,” Bubic said. “But one thing I noticed was that I got behind in the count more often. The first three innings were somewhat of a breeze. I didn’t waste too many pitches. But against a lineup like that, second time through the order was a little tougher.”

Bubic needed 27 pitches to battle through the fourth.

A punchout of David Bote ended the inning and the 40th overall selection of the 2018 Draft finished up facing one above the minimum over his final seven outs. Only a two-out base hit by Victor Caratini in the fifth marred the end of his outing. He threw 52 of his 88 pitches for strikes.

“He would have gone longer than [six innings]," Royals skipper Mike Matheny said after the game. "[The fourth] was the only inning where the pitch count added up. It’s impressive.”

Bubic painted his spots with his 50-grade fastball all night. He got 20 called strikes or swings-and-misses from Cubs hitters on a four-seamer that consistently sat in the low 90s. The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder worked off this heater by flashing a 50-grade curveball 12 times and relied heavily on a fall-off-the-table 60-grade changeup that he threw 22 times.

After posting a 4.03 ERA over 10 starts with 53 strikeouts and 19 walks in 38 frames for Rookie Advanced Idaho Falls in his first professional season, Bubic played his way up to the Carolina League in his sophomore campaign last year. In 26 combined starts between Class A Lexington and Class A Advanced Wilmington, the Stanford product sported a 2.23 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP with 185 punchouts and 42 walks over 149 1/3 innings. Bubic limited opponents to a .199 average-against in that span and earned a Futures Game selection.

Bubic faced Nico Hoerner twice and won both battles after getting the top Cubs prospect to fly out to right in the third and ground out to third in the fifth. Hoerner went 0-for-4 while extending his hitless skid to five games. The 23-year-old started the season with hits in five straight contests and is batting .233 on the season.

In other action:

Mariners 7, Angels 6

Top Angels prospect Jo Adell collected a knock in his second straight big league game, singling to lead off the eighth. Baseball’s No. 6 overall prospect crossed the plate four batters later when Mike Trout clubbed his fourth dinger of the year -- his second of the game. Seattle’s fifth-ranked prospect Evan White hammered an RBI ground-rule double to right to cap the Mariners' scoring. It was the 24-year-old’s fourth extra-base hit this season. No. 11 Kyle Lewis continued his torrid start with a pair of hits, a walk, an RBI and a run scored. Lewis has driven in 10 in 13 games and sports a .385/.439/.577 slash line. Box score

Brewers 1, White Sox 0

Top White Sox prospect Luis Robert extended his hitting streak to five games with a base knock to lead off the game. Robert is 8-for-17 over his past five contests with a homer, two doubles, four walks, five runs scored and two RBIs. Baseball’s third overall prospect is batting .364/.429/.568 in 12 games with the South Siders. Chicago’s No. 21 prospect Danny Mendick had a perfect showing at the plate, finishing 3-for-3 with a double. It was the infielder’s first multi-hit effort this season. Righty Codi Heuer did not allow a hit or a walk while fanning three over the final two scoreless frames. The No. 29 White Sox prospect has amassed a 1.69 ERA and a 0.56 WHIP in four appearances. Box score

Indians 2, Reds 0

Cleveland’s 16th-ranked prospect James Karinchak continued his dominance with another scoreless frame of relief. The right-hander allowed a hit and struck out one in the eighth. In four straight shutout appearances, he has only allowed one unearned run over 6 1/3 innings. Tejay Antone (0-1) yielded a run on a pair of hits and four walks while whiffing four over 4 1/3 frames in his first start for Cincinnati. The No. 24 Reds prospect sports a 2.08 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP while limited opponents to a .107 average in two outings spanning 8 2/3 innings this year. Box score

Mets 3, Nationals 1

With the Mets down three of their Opening Day infielders, Andres Gimenez started his third consecutive game. The No. 95 overall prospect singled in four at-bats and is hitting .320/.346/.400. Gimenez, New York's third-ranked prospect, came to the plate with runners in scoring position twice, but bounced into the final out both times. Box score

Twins 5, Pirates 2

After Max Kepler’s three-run homer in the ninth, Minnesota turned to No. 27 prospect Jorge Alcala to finish the contest. The right-hander struck out a pair but yielded a two-run blast to Josh Bell in his lone inning. It marked the second appearance of the season for Alcala, who posted a 5.47 ERA in 110 1/3 innings between Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Rochester last season. Box score

Giants 4, Rockies 3

Sam Hilliard singled, scored a run and swiped his first bag of the season in three at-bats. The Rockies No. 12 prospect also made a sliding catch on a blooper hit by Wilmer Flores in the ninth. Hilliard has knocks in four of his past five games and is hitting .217/.308/.391 in 20 at-bats this year. The 26-year-old stole 124 bases in the Minors with at least 20 thefts in each of the previous four seasons. Box score

Dodgers 7, Padres 6

No. 29 overall prospect Luis Patiño had a rough introduction to Major League ball, allowing three consecutive one-out hits in his first inning, capped by Joc Pederson’s three-run blast. The Padres No. 3 prospect then settled in to retire the next five Dodgers, two via strikeout, to cap his two-inning stint. The 20-year-old sported a 2.57 ERA with 10.73 K/9 over 234 innings in three Minor League seasons. Padres No. 19 prospect Jake Cronenworth notched a double in four at-bats. No. 27 Javy Guerra issued a walk and recorded a strikeout in a scoreless ninth. Box score

D-backs 14, Astros 7

Arizona's No. 30 prospect Kevin Ginkel settled things down in an otherwise crazy game, striking out two in a perfect sixth. Third-ranked Astros prospect Abraham Toro broke out of an 0-for-14 skid with a pair of RBI hits, including his first homer of the season, a solo shot in the fourth. Toro opened the scoring with a run-scoring single in the second. Box score

Rob Terranova is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @RobTnova24.