Royals no. 2 prospect Kyle Zimmer remains in Surprise, Arizona for extended spring training due to a “dead arm”. The Kansas City Royals front office is uncertain when he will return to action.
Zimmer was the KC Royals no. 1 draft pick in 2012 (fifth overall) ahead of such players as Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager, Cardinals starting pitcher Michael Wacha, Toronto pitcher Marcus Stroman, and Astros pitcher Lance McCullers. Though he possesses top-of-the-rotation stuff by all accounts, he simply hasn’t been durable.
Kyle Zimmer has thrown no more than 108.1 innings in a single season in four years of professional baseball. That 108-inning season came in 2013 in which he compiled an unimpressive 4.32 ERA at High A and Double A. Zimmer was limited to 14.1 IP in 2014 and opened 2015 on the disabled list. Zimmer hurled a whole 64.0 IP last season.
That’s not very good for a guy that the Kansas City Royals hope to headline their rotation in the future.
The good news is that Zimmer hasn’t blown out his elbow. Though he’s avoided Tommy John surgery, he’s had a nagging shoulder ailment along with knee problems. KC Royals officials constantly characterize his problems as relatively minor, including his latest injury. Assistant general manager J.J. Picollo told MLB.com reporter Jeffrey Flanagan Wednesday:
"“He’s slowed up and in extended [spring],” Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said. “He needs more time before he’s ready to get out. [His] shoulder has been a little erratic — some great days and some so-so days, so we slowed him up.”More from KC Royals NewsKC Royals Rumors: Is a monster move in the cards?KC Royals Free Agent Hunt: 3 Tampa Bay pitchersGrading the 2022 KC Royals: The $25 million manKC Royals Winter Meetings Tracker: Expectations metKC Royals Winter Meetings Tracker: Day 3 update"
According to Brooks Baseball’s pitch f/x data, Zimmer’s fastball dropped from averaging 94.56 mph against Texas on March 2, to averaging 89.36 mph against Arizona on March 12. Yeah, losing 5 mph in 10 days is cause for concern.
Picollo didn’t, however, sound any alarm bells in his conversation with Flanagan:
"“He’s day to day right now,” Picollo said. “He’s throwing side [sessions] starting next week, and we will determine it day to day.”“We’re more concerned for his psyche than his health,” Picollo said."
The irony is that Kyle Zimmer enticed the KC Royals in the 2012 draft, in part, because he only converted to the mound after beginning his college career at University of San Francisco as a position player. Kansas City Royals scouts believed that his lack of extensive pitching outings in high school and college would make him less likely to suffer arm troubles as a professional.
Instead, the exact opposite has been the case. He’s been the guy that can’t stay on the mound.
I know the Kansas City Royals insist that Kyle Zimmer’s current problems are minor. But if Zimmer keeps on suffering “minor injures” and “dead arms” season after season, how long are we supposed to believe he can headline a rotation?