Thursday’s opening day for Major League Baseball and that means another chance for Local star Jakob Junis to pitch against the best. Junis is a native of Rock Falls had to wait till the 29th round of the 2011 MLB draft to hear his name.
But Junis has climbed up the ranks and made the most of his opportunities. Since 2017 he’s started 83 games for the Kansas City Royals and he believes this season he is in the best shape of his life.
“Thankfully the Royals bought me back this season and I can honestly say that I really the work I put in this offseason I haven’t felt this good in my entire career with my command, my pitches are working. My confidence is super high and it’s just been a lot of fun seeing my offseason work pay off going into this season after a strong spring” said Jakob Junis.
Back in 2011, Junis was going to attend North Carolina State after graduating from Rock Falls but the Royals made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“That was the last year that they could give bigger signing bonus out later in the draft so I didn’t hear my name until I got called that first day by a couple of teams and the number I set out that I would sign for was a little high for their liking and I was fine I was fully convinced after I didn’t go that day I was going to go to school but the Royals called the next day in the 29th round, I said ok I wasn’t excited about it at all I thought for sure I was still going to go to college. After pitching around in the summer I went to a few different places and coming to my house some of the front office coming to Rock Falls actually and ultimately got a deal done” said Junis
April 12 2017, Jakob Junis finally got his opportunity to pitch in the Big Leagues against the Oakland A’s and Jakob made the most of that opportunity.
“Super nervous you know, obviously your whole career builds up to that moment of finally fulfilling that dream of pitching in the Big leagues so, super nervous. Pretty shaky inning I had, I ended up loading the bases and ended up getting the double play to get out of it so I started my career on kind of a shaky note but also a good note throwing up a 0” Junis said.
After his first outing Junis had his welcome to the MLB moment against his childhood Idol.
“This first time that I faced Albert Pujols in a game I definitely had that moment because being from Illinois and him being a Cardinals legend. He was one of my favorite players growing up. He was unbelievable when I was a kid he was a God you know so, a guy like that to face him for the first time was definitely a moment that I will never forget and a lot of fun and it still is till this day even though he’s older” Junis said.
Being from Rock Falls Jakob Junis is excited to see his organization the Kansas City Royals be affiliated with the Quad Cities River Bandits.
“Super Cool, actually the Quad Cities I mean Rock Falls is only 35/40 minutes from there. So, I spent a lot of time in the Quad Cities. Some of my best friends live in Rock Island. Right across the bridge from Modern Woodmen. I think it’s a big deal that our team is going to that area. Hopefully they an make the most of it you know. I think it’s cool that I’m from that area and I’ve played for the Royals and hopefully that brings some people out to watch them” said Junis.
Jakob Junis believes the Royals are an up and coming team for the 2021 season and he is excited to see what the future holds. Junis currently has a career record of 27-31 with a 4.78 era.