Necessity is forcing the Royals to quicken their transition to the future.
The next step comes Wednesday when left-handed pitcher Danny Duffy, one of the organization’s top prospects, will be added to the roster in time to start against the Texas Rangers at Kauffman Stadium.
It’s this simple: The Royals need a starting pitcher and believe Duffy, 22, is the best available option. So he gets the call. Service-time issues, which could be financially significant, are a secondary issue.
“Duffy is the next guy in line,” general manager Dayton Moore said, “and he’s been throwing great in Triple-A. So he’ll get an opportunity. Statistically, he’s been great.
“Our scouting judgment is that, since two or three starts ago, our guys felt that if at any time we needed a starter that he was ready.”
The opportunity to promote Duffy occurred from recent injuries to Bruce Chen and Kyle Davies in combination with two disappointing outings from Vin Mazzaro.
The Royals also plan to insert rookie reliever Nate Adcock into the rotation Saturday against St. Louis. Adcock, 23, pitched a starter throughout a five-year minor-league career. He is 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA in this season in eight relief appearances.
“He deserves an opportunity,” manager Ned Yost said, “and he fits the profile of what we’re trying to do. He’s a young guy with upside. Let’s take a look at him.”
Davies is expected to be placed today on the 15-day disabled list after an examination revealed inflammation in the front of the biceps tendon in his right shoulder. The injury forced his exit in the first inning of Monday’s 19-1 loss to Cleveland.
Chen was diagnosed last week a strained lat muscle in his lower back. He hopes to begin playing catch later this week but is likely to need at least one or two rehab starts in the minors before returning. If so, he won’t return prior to early June.
The Royals promoted Mazzaro following Chen’s injury but sent him back to Omaha following two poor outings. Mazzaro gave up a club-record 14 runs in Monday’s loss in just 2 1/3 innings.
And up comes Duffy.
“He’s got three quality pitches,” Yost said. “He’s a little inconsistent with his breaking ball at times in the strike zone, but he’s been very effective with his fastball. He’s been keeping his fastball down. At times, he has electric stuff. He’s ready to go.”
The move won’t be made until Wednesday because the Royals must determine how to clear space for Duffy on their 25-man and 40-man rosters. The 25-man move is likely to be placing Davies on the disabled list.
The 40-man move is less clear because it will likely involve releasing or designating a player for assignment. One possible casualty is right-hander Kevin Pucetas, who started Tuesday night for Omaha at Colorado Springs.
Duffy has been regarded as one of the organization’s top pitching prospects since his selection in the third round of the 2007 draft. He is 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA in seven starts at Omaha, although he allowed 10 runs in 16 innings in his last three outings.
The decision to promote Duffy raises service-time concerns regarding arbitration eligibility. Had the Royals waited a few more weeks, they likely could have delayed Duffy’s eligibility by one year. The difference could be millions of dollars.
The Royals accepted a similar risk May 6 by adding first baseman Eric Hosmer, who is generally viewed as their top prospect, to their big-league roster.
“You don’t worry about that as much with pitchers,” Moore said. “You just don’t. We need a major-league starter right now, and Daniel Duffy is the guy who is most prepared to give us the best chance to win.
“These (pitchers) are not going to develop at the pace we need them to develop unless they’re up here and going out there every fifth day. It’s good to get them going.”
The move to promote Duffy follows the postgame decision Monday to recall left-hander Everett Teaford from Omaha after dispatching Mazzaro. Teaford, 26, is a six-year pro who has never been in the big leagues.
Duffy is 27-14 with a 2.59 ERA in 73 games in four minor-league seasons. He participated in the 2009 All-Star Futures Game and joined Teaford and three other Royals prospects on last year’s USA team in the Pan American Games Qualifying Tournament in Puerto Rico.
Hosmer was also on last year’s Pan Am team along with third baseman Mike Moustakas and left-handed pitcher Mike Montgomery. Moustakas and Montgomery are considered likely promotion prospects in coming weeks.