Royals

Scouting report from Ned Yost’s son led to Royals calling up Jake Junis

Kansas City Royals pitcher Jake Junis was called up to the majors for the first time.
Kansas City Royals pitcher Jake Junis was called up to the majors for the first time. jsleezer@kcstar.com

Royals manager Ned Yost got an additional scouting report on pitcher Jake Junis, called up along with Scott Alexander on Wednesday to bolster the major-league team’s bullpen.

Yost’s son, Ned, is the batting and third base coach for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, who played Junis’ Omaha Storm Chasers last week. Junis started and pitched 6  1/3 innings, allowing four hits and two runs while striking out seven.

“I called him after the game and asked him how Jake did, and he said really, really good,” Yost said. “We got reports from all angles.”

Junis was scheduled to start for Class AAA Omaha on Wednesday. Instead, he was in the Royals clubhouse, a No. 65 uniform hanging in his locker. Junis, the team’s 29th round selection in the 2011 draft, is with the parent club during the regular season for the first time.

He wasn’t expecting the call.

“It was a complete shock,” Junis said.

After a rough start to the season, reliever Matt Strahm was sent to Omaha. Outfielder Terrance Gore was optioned to Class AA Northwest Arkansas, with both moves made after the Royals’ home-opening loss to the A’s on Monday.

Monday was an off day for the Storm Chasers, and Junis was out to dinner with his wife, Brianne, when the call came.

“She got up out of her chair and gave me a hug, almost starting crying,” Junis said.

They had ordered their dinner but canceled it so Junis could get back to the hotel to begin the series of calls to family.

Junis was in big-league training camp for the first time this spring. Over five minor-league seasons, he has pitched almost exclusively as a starter, compiling a 4.41 ERA with 455 strikeouts and 124 walks over 539 innings.

Joining the Royals this soon “never crossed my mind,” said Junis, a 6-2, 225-pound right-hander. “I wasn’t really worried about. It was preparing for my next start in Triple-A.”

Junis’ repertoire is a fastball, curveball, slider and a changeup. Last season, he was chosen Northwest Arkansas’ pitcher of the year, finishing third in the Texas League with a 3.25 ERA. He pitched in league’s All-Star game and was a postseason All-Star.

His role with the Royals will offer a different vantage point, from the bullpen.

“I haven’t really come out of the bullpen too much,” Junis said. “I did in spring training a little bit so at least I’m not totally new to it. All it comes down to is going out there and getting guys out.”

Blair Kerkhoff: 816-234-4730, @BlairKerkhoff

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