Royals Officially Sign First Round Pick Kyle Zimmer

Kyle Zimmer seems to want to get on the field and start his professional career.

After being selected with the fifth overall pick in the MLB draft on Monday, Zimmer and the Royals agreed on a signing bonus that gets him into the fold right away. The reported amount of the bonus is $3 million, half a million less than MLB’s slot figure for the pick.

Everything about this signing and bonus is beneficial to the Royals. They don’t have to worry about signing their first rounder at the deadline like last year when Bubba Starling’s bonus was announced just before midnight on the last night. They saved money on the bonus but still got one of the top three college arms in the draft (which allows them to use their draft pool for the first ten picks more flexibly with other signees). Zimmer is in the organization now so he can jump to Arizona to recuperate from hamstring and groin tightness that followed him after his season ended at San Francisco and then he can still get in some time in a minor league rotation.

After that, it’s up to Zimmer and his performance.

College pitchers can fly through a minor league system. Unlike high school pitchers who may need additional instruction, teams won’t always hold college pitchers in extended spring training, instead sending them off to short season leagues or lower levels. With early round picks, they often go right into game action or close to it.

That’s the path Zimmer will likely be on. Greg Schaum suggested that once Zimmer gets assigned to a team, he’ll be able to log 30 to 40 more innings in 2012. The Royals reportedly haven’t come up with a location for him yet, but Bob Dutton suggests it may be Idaho Falls or Kane County.

The signing also benefits the Royals because of the alternative. When Mark Appel slipped, there may have been a chance the Royals would have selected him. The issue with that would have been his bonus demands. The Royals were allotted a $6.2 million pool for their first ten picks. Appel reportedly turned down $6 million from Houston to be the first overall pick. To sign him would have likely taken $7 million, a number that would have left the Royals mostly unable to sign any other picks in their top ten. Their best move in that case could have been to have let Appel walk and taken a compensatory pick next year, but for a team like the Royals who may be a few pitchers away from true contention in 2013 and 2014, getting a player in line and ready to contribute was important.

Essentially, they chose Zimmer, most of their top ten picks, no penalties or lost draft picks (which could have resulted from going over the bonus pool by 15%) over Appel alone, and that decision is a prudent one. Appel may indeed turn out to be better than Zimmer when their careers are over (though not all scouts agree that there’s that big of a gap between the two), but Zimmer’s pretty darn good and allows for more talent to be brought in overall. ]

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