It was thought that Kyle Zimmer could end up having a season similar to what Yordano Ventura had last year. In 2013, Ventura spent most of the first half of the year with Northwest Arkansas before moving up to Omaha. Ventura performed well enough to earn a September callup, starting three games despite the Royals being in the chase for the Wild Card. It seemed natural to think that the road map had been set for how the Royals would promote Zimmer this season.
Unfortunately, those plans seemed to have been for naught when Zimmer strained his latissimus dorsi muscle, causing him to miss the entire 2014 season at this point. However, Zimmer could still get a chance to perform this season. He has begun throwing from a mound, and if all goes well, may join one of the minor league teams in approximately two weeks.
When/if Kyle Zimmer does get into minor league games this season, it would reportedly be as a reliever. Given how late the minor league teams are into their season, there just is not enough time to allow Zimmer to build up his pitch count and start this year. That does not mean that his future in the organization is to be a reliever; the Royals plan on having him start in the Arizona Fall League and in one of the winter leagues.
What this also means is that there could be a chance that Zimmer is able to make an impact upon this Royals this season. If he pitches well and continues to set down minor league hitters the way he was able to upon his promotion to the Naturals last season, he could be promoted to Kansas City for the stretch run. Should Zimmer be able to get his incredible strikeout rate to translate from the bullpen, he could become another solid strikeout artist for Ned Yost to turn to.
It may also be that the injury does nothing to slow down the timetable for when Kyle Zimmer stays on the major league roster. Should he perform well in the Arizona Fall League and in the winter leagues, the Royals could have an open spot in the rotation for him. With James Shields expected to depart as a free agent this offseason, the Royals could slot Zimmer right in, hoping that he will be able to provide similar production to what Yordano Ventura did this season.
Kyle Zimmer could still make an impact upon the Royals this season. It just may not be in the way that he was expected to at the start of the year.