Royals pitcher Jake Junis has had many call ups to Kansas City this season

Jake Junis holds a Kansas City Royals record, although not verified, as a rookie. He has been called up a half dozen times this season from Triple-A Omaha. Twice he wasn’t even with the big league club for 24 hours as the 26th man for doubleheaders.

“Six times, I’ve been all over the place this summer,” Junis said. “But it is fun and I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m very thankful every time I’ve been able to come up here and try to contribute to the team.”

He was initially called up on April 12 and made his major league debut against Oakland at Kauffman Stadium, sandwiching two walks around a Stephen Vogt double and prompting a mound visit from pitching coach Dave Eiland. He got out of the one-out bases loaded jam when Yonder Alonso grounded into a double play.

After five days in the majors, he was optioned back to Omaha.

On May 9, with left-handed reliever Scott Alexander going on the disabled list,he was requested to join the team, again. The Storm Chasers were in Salt Lake City.

“From Salt Lake to Tampa, catch a redeye in the middle of the night,” Junis said. “I got to Tampa around 8 or 9 o’clock. I got a couple of hours of sleep then I went to the ball park.

We ended up going extra innings and I ended up pitching. That’s when I got my first win was that night.”

The next day, Jake Junis was sent back to the Pacific Coast League and Al Alburquerque was called up.

The next time Jake Junis was brought up was May 21 and this was for less than 24 hours. He was the 26th man for a doubleheader start at Minnesota.

“My first 26th man,” Junis said. “I was in Omaha. I was supposed to pitch that night, but we got rained out, the same as the big league team.

I had to fly to Minnesota that next day and got there and pitched in the doubleheader. So that’s kind of a crazy one, too.”

He was removed after 4 2/3 innings as the Royals got the victory. Jake Junis went back to the minors.

Junis spent most of June with the big league club. He was called up June 6 and made four starts that month with Danny Duffy on the disabled list with a right oblique strain. He was sent back on June 30 to Omaha.

On July 22, the Royals needed Jake Junis again to be the 26th man for a Sunday start against Seattle after a rainout the previous night. Junis went eight innings and allowed one run on four hits, while striking out seven and walking one to pick up the victory. Nice game, Jake, here is your return airline ticket back to Omaha. So good to see you again.

Junis was promoted again on Aug. 13 when starter Trevor Cahill, one of the three pitchers the Royals acquired in a July 24 trade with San Diego, went on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. It appears this time Junis will stick with the club until the end of the season with Cahill and Duffy on the disabled list.

Junis took out no long-term apartment lease this summer in Kansas City.

“Not anything permanent that’s for sure. I’m staying with (teammate Kevin) McCarthy now.

He has an apartment. Beforehand, I was just staying at a hotel each time I came up, not knowing how long I’d be here.”

Junis is a 2011 29th-round draft pick. He was on most boards as a second or third round pick out of Rock Falls, Illinois High School. He had played in tournaments in Japan and Puerto Rico with high school All-Star teams. He had a scholarship to North Carolina State.

“I was dead-set going to college,” Junis said. “After being drafted that late, I thought there was no way I was going to sign, but thankfully the Royals and myself could agree upon the right amount of money and it worked out for me. They can’t do that anymore.”

The Royals signed Junis for $675,000, but that could not be accomplished with the draft rules that went into place the next year. Teams are allotted total money they can sign draft picks and slotted money for each round. If a club ventures out of that boundary, there are high penalties.

Junis was also an all-state high school basketball player.

“I did a little bit of everything,” Junis said. “I handled the ball. I played guard. I could shoot it. Anytime I got the ball and I was open, I was firing it.

“I never pursued anything because I would always play summer baseball. I never played AAU or anything like that. I’d be interested to know if I did pursue basketball, where it would have taken me. I was pretty good and I didn’t really practice all that much.”

Illinois State, Southern Illinois and Northern Iowa contacted him about playing basketball.

“And I got some stuff from Iowa State. That was probably the biggest school, letters and stuff,” Junis said. “I don’t really have a favorite college team. I just like watching the best teams play each other, like the top 10 teams when they match-up and play each other is always fun to watch.

“My NBA team has always been the Bulls, being from Illinois. I know they’re not so good anymore.”

Jake Junis, who turns 25 on September 16, did not jump – maybe crawl – on the Bulls’ bandwagon during the Michael Jordan era.

“I was really young, too young. I don’t remember it at all,” Junis said

Junis’ era started when the Bulls picked Derrick Rose first overall in the 2008 draft. “He was my favorite player. Obviously all those injuries came,” Junis said. “He was a lot of fun to watch. We used to go Bulls games.”

Jake Junis won his last start in August, beating Tampa Bay while striking out a career-high eight. He is 4-0 with 2.86 ERA in his last six outings.

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Article by Alan Eskew

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