Kansas City Royals: Brandon Marklund’s strange journey

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - NOVEMBER 08: Pitcher Brandon Marklund #24 of Canada throws in the bottom of eighth inning during the WBSC Premier 12 Opening Round Group C game between Australia and Canada at the Gocheok Sky Dome on November 08, 2019 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - NOVEMBER 08: Pitcher Brandon Marklund #24 of Canada throws in the bottom of eighth inning during the WBSC Premier 12 Opening Round Group C game between Australia and Canada at the Gocheok Sky Dome on November 08, 2019 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images) /
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Not every player has a direct path to affiliated ball. For Kansas City Royals minor leaguer Brandon Marklund, his journey had a few stops along the way.

Brandon Marklund has taken a strange path to the Kansas City Royals organization. The Canadian born right hander found himself pitching for Bryan College in Dayton, Tennessee, a school that had produced six other minor league players. Marklund, however, did not seem likely to be one of them, as he was undrafted following his collegiate career despite a strong showing when he transitioned to the bullpen as a senior. After pitching in the Coastal Plain League, he then headed to New Zealand, playing for the Auckland Tuatara in the Australian Baseball League.

It was there in Australia where Marklund was finally discovered. His 96 MPH fastball impressed several teams, including the Royals, who were determined to sign the Tuatara reliever. Once he signed, Marklund’s strange journey to affiliated ball was over.

One can see why he would have impressed major league organizations during his time in Australia. Marklund posted a respectable 2.29 ERA and a 1.220 WHiP, striking out 15 batters with just six walks in 19.2 innings. Of course, there was the question of whether or not that success would translate stateside.

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If anything, one could say that Marklund was better in his first season in the Royals organization. He impressed with the Lexington Legends, allowing just seven runs, two earned, over his 39.1 innings, leading to an eye catching 0.46 ERA and a 1.068 WHiP. While he had some command issues, with 19 walks and five wild pitches, Marklund also struck out 44 batters.

Marklund is certainly an intriguing pitcher. In addition to his mid 90s fastball, he possesses a slider with a high spin rate, a true swing and miss offering that also helped him post a 58.8% ground ball rate. That will get attention.

Obviously, Marklund is a long way from the majors. Chances are, he starts 2020 in high-A ball, looking to continue his dominant performance in the bullpen. Should he continue to display an elite ground ball rate, and tighten up his command, Marklund could find himself on a fast track through the system.

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Brandon Marklund did not have the most direct path to the Kansas City Royals organization. In his case, talent won out, and he could play a major part in their future bullpen.