When the Royals selected a pair of Florida Gators pitchers with their first two picks in this June’s draft, it was a great story. College teammates, roommates, and best friends, Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar would begin their professional careers together. It wasn’t the first time, however, that teammates had gone to the same organization within the first two rounds. Hell, it wasn’t even the first time two Florida pitchers had gone in the opening two rounds to the same team. That honor also belongs to former Gators A.J. Puk and Logan Shore after the Oakland Athletics drafted them in the first and second rounds, respectively, of the 2016 Draft. But following Shore’s move to the Tigers as the final piece in the Mike Fiers deal, the dream of one day watching him combine with Puk in Oakland’s rotation has vanished. The former Florida Friday Night ace leaves his buddy Puk to join another college teammate—Alex Faedo—in Detriot. Gators are everywhere!
For the sake of the Royals, their fans, scouts, and most of all Singer and Kowar themselves, I hope they have an easier go than Puk and Shore have had in their early professional careers. While Puk has flashed brilliance, he’s also been inconsistent or hurt. Presently recovering from Tommy John Surgery, the big lefty won’t return to the mound until mid-2019 at the earliest. Shore on the other hand has never flashed the sort of front end potential as Puk, and has had to deal with injuries of his own—particularly a trap issue that cost him most of May and June in 2017. The right-hander returned to High-A Stockton last year but struggled to get outs, compiling a 4.97 ERA over his final eight games with a .300 BAA. Not great to see from a strike thrower, even if the K%-Bb% of 18.8% was more than acceptable.
Therein lies the rub with Shore. There’s much to like: he throws strikes, has a decent swing-and-miss pitch in his changeup, has pitched in big games, and is hyper-competitive on the mound. The issue is, his fastball and breaking ball are too hittable, and he doesn’t have the velocity or movement to fit a relief role. That’s not to say there’s no foreseeable pathway to a decent major league career. It will just need to be driven by sequencing, control and executing a game plan. In other words, he ain’t got “stuff.” This is probably a good time to introduce you to Shore’s stable of offerings. His fastball is a four-seamer, and grades below average at 90-93, with little to no movement, making it very easy to pick up—as was on display last Fall in the Arizona Fall League. His slider is also below average, lacking shape, depth, or any consistency. The jewel of Shore’s arsenal is the aforementioned changeup. With very similar arm action to the fastball, it gives hitters fits, and stands as really the only bit of deception in Shore’s profile. The movement is a sharp downward tumble that also runs slightly in on right-handed batters. It’s a legitimate plus pitch, and paired with the possible plus command/control projection, gives Shore an outside shot of developing into a number four starter. Mechanically, he’s a bit short in his lower half drive, which doesn’t create much extension—potentially the culprit of that hittable fastball. His arm action is a low three-quarters slot, bordering on side-arm. He’s pretty fluid and athletic in his movements and his lower half is sturdy. All in all not a bad get for the Tigers, and certainly a better situation for Shore to get some Major League innings in 2019, barring injury.
Fantasy Slant: Still not a player I would add outside of very deep dynasty leagues that feature 24 teams or more.