Kyle Zimmer Needs to Live Up to His Potential


At 10:00 PM EST on Jaunary 23rd, the Top 100 Prospect list by MLBPipeline.com will be unveiled as part of a one hour special on the MLB Network. However, before that date, they are releasing lists of the top ten prospects at each position, beginning with right handed pitching. Cracking the list as the tenth best right handed pitching prospect is the Royals own Kyle Zimmer.

Zimmer, the Royals top prospect, is likely to be on many such lists this season. It is easy to see why, as his upper 90′s fastball, excellent curve and the ability to command all four of his pitches mark him as a potential ace. Zimmer, along with Vordano Ventura, are expected to lead the next wave of Royals pitching prospects who are anticipated to lead the team in the next half of the decade.

However, to do so, Zimmer is going to have to break what has been a recent trend with Royals prospects. The Royals have had quite a few highly touted prospects to come through their system in the past few years, but few of those prospects have actually panned out. Eric Hosmer may be the closest to reaching his potential of any of those prospects still in a Royals uniform. In fact, Salvador Perez, possibly the best young player for the Royals, was not considered a top 100 prospect at any point during his minor league career.

Now, Kyle Zimmer is the latest Royals prospect to be considered a sure thing. He certainly has the arsenal of pitches, and his performance during his rapid ascension through the system bodes well for his future. Should he be able to come close to his performance for Northwest Arkansas last season, when he went 2-1 with a 1.93ERA and 27 strikeouts in 18.2 innings, it is conceivable that Zimmer reaches the major league roster as a September callup.

The Royals may well need him to. With James Shields asking for a contract extension similar to the contract that Zack Greinke received with the Dodgers, the Royals are likely going to need someone to step in and be the ace of the staff next season. Considering the present options for that role, it may well come down to Ventura and Zimmer.

While it is certainly nice to see that Kyle Zimmer is rated as highly as he is, the Royals need one of these prospects to come through and live up to their billing. Of all the top prospects that the Royals have had in the past few years, it may be that Zimmer is the is the one that they need to perform to expectations.

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  • Eric Akers

    One of my thoughts has been that the Royals are due (Lamb, Montgomery, Dwyer, Melville) to actually get a good starting pitcher to the majors.

    • unclejesse40

      If not very soon it probably means that there is something fundamentally wrong with the approach that Royals are taking with pitching prospects. I am kind of already thinking this but want to see what Ventura, Zimmer, and Duffy end up doing first.

      • Dave Hill

        Uncle – that idea has been kicking around inside my head as well. Been thinking about it as a possible post topic, so I may go in depth into those thoughts in the future.

        • Eric Akers

          That has been discussed a bit on several sites. Even doing it incorrectly, you would think we would have better luck than we had. There was an interview with Odorizzi recently where he discussed that he loved how the Rays did things. The main thing seems to be that he likes the communication and how everybody is on the same page. He also said that they like to make tweaks here and there (although he goes on to say they did not do much of that with him).

          What we need is a comparison from the lower levels of the Rays organization all the way to the top in how they handle the pitchers to the Royals way. The Rays have had the exact opposite success rate with pitchers compared to the Royals.

          • jimfetterolf

            I would note that Wade Davis came up through the Tampa way.

          • Eric Akers

            I don’t know that there is a huge difference between the two organizations, and I think Jake was blowing some smoke, but there has definitely been a difference in results for starting pitchers. Most of the difference could be luck, where we were below average in luck and they were above average. But it would be nice to investigate this to determine if it is more than luck.

          • jimfetterolf

            This is worthy of a major post and discussion. I suggested two KoK guys and would add Greg Schaum of Pine Tar Express.

            On Jake, not sure of how the Brewers do things, But Odorizzi’s stock had fallen with the Royals and he was projecting as a #4-5 starter when he was thrown in with Myers. Will be interesting to see if Tampa can save Jake and Montgomery.

          • Eric Akers

            Yeah, I agree with that. I was surprised to learn that Jake is listed as their top prospect according to baseball america and number 2 in baseball prospectus. He has either improved a lot, or the Rays’ minor leagues are a bit depleted.

          • jimfetterolf

            Odorizzi was hot snot through AA, then he sort of hit a wall, still had some good numbers but having a hard time getting through five innings and teams would whack him around the second and third time they saw him. His last minor league game for the Royals was against Reno for the championship and he got abused, then he came to KC and looked clearly over his head in two starts.

            Jake gets by on pitchability and lacks the pure stuff of any of our current top young guys or even our bullpen. I’m fairly sure Dayton Moore figured if he got Shields and Davis that Odorizzi had no chance at the majors ’til ’15 at the earliest. He wouldn’t have made the rotation last year and he wouldn’t make it this year, so was expendable.

          • Dave Hill

            It’s a little of both actually. The Rays upper minors do not have a lot of top talent, since most of those prospects have already come up to the majors. However, Odorizzi has improved to the point where he looks like he might be able to slot in as a third starter on most teams. It could be that he improves his stock further and gets back to the level that he was expected to prior to coming over to the Royals.

            It is very interesting seeing how the Rays can seemingly churn out pitcher after pitcher, yet the Royals struggle in that department. It is definitely worth researching and writing up an in depth post about.

          • Eric Akers

            Where would Jake sit in the Royals prospect list now?

          • Dave Hill

            I’d say possibly in the top five. I’d have him as their third best pitching prospect, so fifth overall in my ranking.

        • jimfetterolf

          You might ask Mike Engle and Kevin Scobee about the Royals’ old approach compared to new. More trouble and I have gone around this on these very pages. The fact that approach has changed makes me more optimistic abot the next wave and even Duffy and Hochevar, who have been able to go back to what made them top prospects in the first place.

        • moretrouble

          Dave, reading this thread reminds me of the logic a criminal might use in court — he says nothing is his fault because he had a bad childhood.

          It’s too easy to say an athlete would have been great, except he had bad coaches. On a fundamental level, players are responsible for their own performance.

          • Dave Hill

            There is a lot of truth to that statement. However, it is also expected that at least one or two of these pitchers would come through and, to some degree, be close to the players they were expected to be. Why is it that teams like the Rays or the Cardinals can seemingly develop pitchers without trouble, while the Royals cannot? There is a point where it goes beyond bad luck.

            It may not be all on the coaching staff or on the way that the Royals develop these players. The players have to put in the work as well. It is, however, a troubling trend, and one that probably needs to be looked into.

          • moretrouble

            I think the difference is that some clubs have a better eye for talent than others. The assessments before the draft are slightly more accurate than other clubs.

  • moretrouble

    There is nothing wrong with the development of KC’s prospects. Pitchers like Busby, Saberhagen, Greinke, etc. are once in a generation type players. No organization turns out those kind of players every year.

    The biggest jump is between AAA and the MLB. Zimmer hasn’t even played at AAA yet. How can anyone expect him to walk right into Kauffman, throw on a uni and be a dominating his first year in the bigs.

    A first rounder has roughly a 65% chance of getting to the big leagues — not becoming a great player, just getting there. The odds drop dramatically each round. Fans want miracles and I suggest they see one every day at Kauffman. KC has so many of their draft choices in their dugout, I think they have done an incredible job with development.