When the KC Royals drafted Kyle Zimmer with the 5th overall pick of the 2012 draft the expectation was that by now he would occupy one of five spots in the Kansas City rotation. That has not come to pass.
Zimmer was a college pitcher with all the tools to one day front a Major League rotation. Injuries have plagued his professional career however. Going into the 2017 season there were many who questioned if he would ever contribute to the big club.
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This season has already included yet another trip to the disabled list for Zimmer as he dealt with shoulder soreness. It appeared that it would be just the next wasted season in what was to be a promising career. He has drawn comparisons, for all the wrong reasons, to former #1 overall KC Royals pick Luke Hochevar.
Hochevar never was able to find success as a starting pitcher, struggling throughout his career as a SP and earning the title of bust. Hoch was able to endear himself to the Kansas City fan base when he transitioned to the bullpen. He played a role in the Royals’ lockdown group that lead to playoff runs in 2014 and 2015.
The Hoch comparison may not be over.
Since coming back from the DL Zimmer has also made the move to the pen for AAA Omaha. It is still early, but the results so far are promising.
Zimmer has appeared in two games throwing two innings in both. He has not allowed a hit to go along with two strikeouts and one walk. There has never been any question about the skill that Zimmer possesses; the tricky part has been figuring out how to get it to the big leagues.
The KC Royals and Zimmer may have found the answer.
No longer is the Kansas City bullpen the best in baseball. In fact 2017 has been a bit of a struggle for the pen. If Zimmer can continue what he has started in Omaha he could help to get the relief group back on track.
He has the tools to become a dominant late inning reliever.
Expectations once again are starting to rise. There is a buzz around not only Zimmer, but the KC Royals as well. A hot June has seen the team go from last place in the American League to being two games back of .500 and 3.5 games out of the division lead.
If the team indeed has another postseason run in them Zimmer could be called upon to give Ned Yost another option to close out games. Perhaps he becomes a bridge to Kelvin Herrera. The biggest obstacle to Zimmer seeing time in the show this season will be his health.
I hope that I get proven wrong about my previous assumption when it comes to Kyle Zimmer. I pray that Dayton Moore knew what he was doing when he held onto Zimmer and parted ways with other pitching prospects. The good news for the KC Royals is that I am wrong a lot which means I will soon owe Kyle an apology for my foolish doubt.
Where does Kyle Zimmer stand in the eyes of #RoyalsNation? What do you expect from him the rest of 2017?