Prospect Staumont has tools to surprise this spring

Hard-throwing righty struck out 167 batters in 123 1/3 innings across two levels in '16

Prospect Staumont has tools to surprise this spring

With Spring Training fast approaching, will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Royals squad each day this week. Today's topic: Who might surprise?

KANSAS CITY -- Josh Staumont.

Royals fans may want to get familiar with that name.

Staumont, a hard-throwing 23-year-old, could be the next young fireballer to emerge in the Royals' pipeline of bullpen arms, perhaps following in the footsteps of Greg Holland, Kelvin Herrera and last year's sensation, Matt Strahm.

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Royals general manager Dayton Moore has indicated Staumont, who can hit 101 mph on the radar gun, will get an extended look this Spring Training for a possible bullpen spot.

That's bold, considering Staumont isn't even on the 40-man roster.

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"We've certainly showed in the past that we're not afraid to go with young arms in the bullpen," Moore said. "If you have the talent, you can pitch at any level."

Staumont, a second-round pick in the 2015 Draft out of Azusa Pacific University -- the same school that produced former Chiefs great Christian Okoye -- always has had a big arm. He could hit 100 mph in college.

But it wasn't until the second half of 2016 when Staumont proved he could harness that blazing fastball.

Next Big Leaguers: Josh Staumont

After being promoted to Double-A Northwest Arkansas, everything began to click for Staumont, the Royals' No. 10 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. In 11 starts there, he posted a 3.04 ERA with 73 strikeouts in 50 1/3 innings.

In Staumont's last three starts covering 17 innings, he struck out 30 and walked six. His last start of the season was the most memorable as he threw six shutout innings, struck out 12 and walked two.

"There's nobody in our system that throws the ball as easy and as hard as he does," Royals assistant general manager/player personnel J.J. Picollo said. "Even when he's throwing 98 [mph], it looks like he's just playing catch.

"He's got a really good curveball that is from 80-88. And there are nights he adds and subtracts [from his velocity] the way Zack Greinke did for us. I'm not saying he's going to be the next Zack, but there are similarities."

With the absence of Wade Davis and Luke Hochevar this season, the Royals are counting on one or two prospects to seize a bullpen role. All eyes will be on Staumont this spring.

"We really don't have anyone quite like him," Picollo said.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.