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.