Selected by the Royals with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2012 draft, Kyle Zimmer’s pro debut later in the summer was cut short after he underwent a procedure to remove loose bodies in his right elbow.
Fully healthy heading into 2013 and expected to move quickly, Zimmer unexpectedly struggled at High-A Wilmington during the first three months of the season. However, he was able to right the ship late in June and subsequently dominated following a promotion to Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
Over his final eight regular-season starts, Zimmer posted a 1.86 ERA and a 63-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 43.2 innings.
Zimmer boasts one of the more complete arsenals among the game's top pitching prospects. His fastball sits comfortably in the mid-90s with late life, and he has the ability to reach back for something extra in the 96-98 mph range as needed. In general, Zimmer’s quick arm and smooth delivery causes the pitch to seemingly explode out of his hand.
His curveball is a second plus pitch with excellent pace and a sharp downer break, and it should serve as an out pitch in the major leagues. He’ll also mix in an average slider with tight spin and decent depth as well as a changeup with late fading action out of the zone.
Even when he lacks a feel for his four-pitch mix, Zimmer still has the ability to work comfortably within the strike zone. With a walk rate right around 8 percent in 2013, Zimmer’s knack for pounding the strike zone separates him from most other top pitching prospects. The scary part is that he should become even more effective once he can get opposing hitters to expand their zone.
However, Zimmer’s advanced command can actually hurt him at times, as his propensity for working within the strike zone makes opposing hitters more aggressive. Plus, his delivery, though effortless and fluid, lacks natural deception. And while he has plenty of velocity on his fastball, Zimmer’s tendency to linger at the top of the zone enables hitters to lift the pitch.
Zimmer has the potential to be a monster with four impressive offerings and above-average command, as well as knowledge on how to attack hitters and exploit weaknesses. The only thing that could seemingly prevent him from a great career in the major leagues is an injury—something that has already been an issue early in his professional career.