According to J.J. Cooper of Baseball America, 2012 first round pick Kyle Zimmer will be shut down for the rest of 2013 due to shoulder stiffness suffered in his last start. According to Bob Dutton, the Royals are denying Cooper’s report but conceding that with the time left on the year, it is a “likely” option.
UPDATE: Scouting director Scott Sharp offered quotes and confirmed the decision later in the day.
Zimmer pitched two innings for Northwest Arkansas on Wednesday and gave up no hits but was pulled when his shoulder acted up. The Royals will be cautious so as to not aggravate the injury. To this point, there hasn’t been any mention of surgery or any medical diagnosis, so hopefully it’s entirely a precaution. NWA has 17 games left on their schedule for this year, so Zimmer’s just missing a couple of starts the rest of the way. Cooper’s report notes that the Royals felt he was within their expected range of innings for this year.
Still, with the Royals track record, any sort of injury or issue is a red flag. Mike Montgomery was a top prospect before forearm issues popped up and he wasn’t the same after. John Lamb hasn’t seen his velocity return since coming back from his Tommy John surgery of two years ago. Even Zimmer had been drafted with knowledge of bone spurs in his right elbow and had surgery almost exactly a year ago.
Zimmer had a string of dominant starts for Wilmington in mid-July and earned a promotion to Double A, after which he kept rolling, striking out 27 in 18.2 innings and walking just five.
It’s worth reminding that just one pitcher has made a big league start after being drafted, signed, and developed by Dayton Moore: Danny Duffy.
Before we panic, though, my hunch (based on nothing but gut feeling and the timing), is that this just shuts Zimmer down for his remaining starts since there’s little point in pushing him now. The Royals have seen him throw some quality innings in Double A and there’s little need to push him further at the moment. If he was shut down in June with the same shoulder stiffness, then it’d be much more worrisome to me. More information should come out over the weekend.