David Lee picked up a telephone in the library of a Central Florida high school in early June and talked for 15 minutes with nary a pause about one of the most polished high school pitchers he has ever seen.
At 18 years old, the prospect could touch 96 mph with excellent command. He’d throw the fastball, which regularly sat in the low 90s, to both sides of the plate and occasionally mix in a slider that high school batters struggled to hit. He was ultra competitive, too, the kind of kid who would “want to stand in line better than you.”
“Brady Singer,” said Lee, who has coached in the talent-rich region for more than 30 years, “was special from the beginning.”
Three years later, Singer was selected 18th overall in the 2018 draft by the Royals for his ability to sustain that hard fastball and tenaciously fill the strike zone with a change-up and above-average slider. He finally signed on Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium for the same fiery attitude Lee, who coached Singer during his senior year at Eustis (Fla.) High School, witnessed years ago.
“He is gonna be what people in Kansas City are gonna love to come to the ballpark to see,” said Royals scouting director Lonnie Goldberg during a news conference.
Just one day after his University of Florida rotation-mate Jackson Kowar inked his own contract with the Royals, Singer agreed to join an organization that in the last few years has seen its depth at pitching both tested and taunted. Swayed by general manager Dayton Moore’s honesty and the familiarity fostered by area scout Jim Buckley, Singer and his family came to Kansas City to sign a contract with a bonus of $4.25 million.
Singer warranted little introduction before he slipped on the first Royals jersey of his professional career. His collegiate success — 12 strikeouts in a College World Series Finals game, a national championship, numerous player of the year awards, a 3.22 career ERA — had already spoken for him.
Singer won the Dick Howser Trophy presented to the collegiate player of the year and finished the season with a 2.55 ERA across 17 starts. He struck out 114 batters, issued 22 walks and allowed a .204 batting average as he led the national No. 1 seed Gators back to the College World Series, where they lost to eventual runner-up Arkansas.
As they delved into Singer’s pedigree, neither Goldberg nor Buckley emphasized much of what the right-handed pitcher had accomplished on the field. They focused, instead, on his makeup.
“He’s gonna blend into the community,” Buckley said. “I grew up here in KC, and he’s gonna be perfect.”
Most of that, of course, can be attributed to his competitiveness. Singer made headlines last year when he blew up at an umpire after learning a super regionals game he was pitching in would be delayed by rain. The tirade went viral.
“That’s just something that — did I mean it to happen? No,” Singer said. “Did it happen? Yeah, it did. That’s my emotion. That’s my competitiveness and I don’t think I’ll ever go away from that.”
The Royals paid Singer nearly $1 million above his assigned slot value trusting it never will.
“It sounds cliché but I really am excited about this organization,” Singer said. “I’m excited to hopefully lead our pitching staff to a World Series and help out as much as I can.”
The Royals on Tuesday also signed outfielder Eric Cole for $500,000. They wielded their MLB-best spending pool of $12,781,900 to sign all their selections in the top 10 rounds and offer an above-slot bonus to junior college pitcher Rylan Kaufman.
The Royals have signed their top 17 picks and 33 of their 43 selections, spending about $14.6 million on all 40 rounds.
"You look at what we did in draft and what Lonnie was able to accomplish here, I thought it was second to none in my personal opinion," Buckley said. "I’m excited, I think the players are excited in talking to them and I think everybody should be excited.