Royals’ Brady Singer looking for more in 2021.

By Lynn Worthy
The Kansas City Star/TNS
Kansas City Royals pitcher Brady Singer works against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sept. 22, 2020, at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, MO.

So much of Brady Singer’s approach to pitching feels like perpetual motion.

Once his windup begins, the Royals’ 6-foot-5 right-hander seems like a blur of legs starting with the drop step that leads into a high knee drive, and then he unleashes the baseball darting quickly towards home plate.

By all accounts, Singer, 24, also can’t stomach staying at a standstill in his development as a pitcher. He accepts challenges, devises a precise plan of attack to conquer the task at hand and goes full-steam ahead.

He keeps charging forward. Royals manager Mike Matheny described Singer as “machine-like.”

True to form, Singer has set his sights higher this spring training than last when he entered his first big-league camp hoping to prove he could compete at the highest level.

Now, he wants to show he can be counted on over a full season for a team with designs on competing in the American League’s Central Division.

“This year it’s different,” Singer said. “It’s a different feeling. We’re definitely excited, especially about this team. Last year was good. I personally learned a lot. I think a lot of other guys did too. It’s different too with 162 games scheduled.”

The Royals’ top draft pick in 2018 (18th overall) out of the University of Florida, Singer willed his way through Single-A and Double-A in just one minor-league season in 2019.

He forced his way into consideration for the starting rotation last spring before camps were suspended.

Last season, he made the jump to the majors and started the second game of the regular season. He made 12 starts as a rookie hurler, and he posted a 4-5 record with a 4.06 ERA, 64 strikeouts and 23 walks with a 1.17 WHIP in 64 1/3 innings.

In his ninth start, he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Cleveland Indians on the road. He got into such a rhythm in that full-steam-ahead approach that the most veteran Indians hitters started stepping out of the batter’s box against him in attempts to throw him off that night.

Singer went 3-1 with a 1.50 ERA, a .114 batting average against, 25 strikeouts, nine hits and eight walks in his last four starts (24 innings).

“September was the month that I felt like everything was coming together,” Singer said. “Everything that I learned, I put into the game. I was rolling there, and I definitely wanted to keep going.”

Matheny likes the maturity he sees in Singer and his hyper-focused and intense nature.

“I want him to keep that urgency, but also not forget what he did was really special,” Matheny said. “For any young player to come in and have some success (is special).”

The change between last spring and this spring for the youngster is more internal than anything else, Matheny asserted.

“I think the main difference is going to be the story that he tells himself,” Matheny said.

Whereas Singer may have had to talk himself into believing he could pitch at that level in 2020, the success he experienced lets him know with a level of certainty that he belongs, Matheny explained.

Now, the task at hand becomes striking a balance between recognizing last year’s success and continuing to push for more improvement and increased consistency.

This year, he’ll need to make strengths stronger, strengthen weaknesses, understand how hitters will adjust to him, be able to execute pitches in different locations and add to his repertoire.

Singer certainly sounds as though he’s on the same wavelength. He said the biggest lesson from last season was “never take your foot off the gas.”

For a guy who always seems to have the pedal down, that shouldn’t be hard to remember.

And as far as his repertoire goes, he seemed encouraged by the development of his changeup.

He did most of his damage last season with a sinking fastball and a slider. Those two pitches accounted for more than 1,000 of the 1,071 pitches he threw.

“It’s going to be huge,” Singer said of the changeup. “I feel like we’re going to be talking about this for a long time, the changeup, but it came a long way this year just in this short offseason that we had. I feel like I’ve taken a whole other step up with it. I’ve taken a lot of velocity off of it. I feel like I’m getting it to move a lot more.”

He found a feel for the changeup with the help of some different finger placement and finger pressure.

“Feels better than it ever has,” Singer said.

The young fireballer who always seems to be hard-charging forward just might have added a pitch that abruptly hits the brakes before it reaches home plate.

One more thing for opposing hitters to think about.