A former top five pick has just signed a major league contract. No, Bryce Harper or Manny Machado have not announced where they plan to play in 2019. Kyle Zimmer, the fifth overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft by the Royals, has rejoined his former team on a one-year contract. Zimmer has managed just 259 innings since making his professional debut, and has not appeared in a game since 2017.
To make room for Zimmer on the roster, the Royals have designated Cheslor Cuthbert for assignment.
For the better part of the 2018 season, Zimmer spent his time in Kent, Washington, working with the fine folks at Driveline Baseball. There, Zimmer regained his velocity, reaching 100.2 MPH on a pull-down throw, and 94.1 MPH on the mound, as shown in the videos below.
Beginning the high-intensity phase of throwing rehab for @kylezimmer11. From ~58 MPH with pain to 💯 MPH with none. Still a long road back; the mound comes in a week or so as workload capacity is built.
Next tweet details the steps the last few months have looked like. pic.twitter.com/8iWSVVqpFW
— Kyle Boddy (@drivelinebases) August 18, 2018
Kyle is progressing to full mound throwing after completing the previous phases of rehab and force acceptance/generation. 94+ MPH off the slope – good start! @kylezimmer11 #royals pic.twitter.com/jyQvVysNnj
— Kyle Boddy (@drivelinebases) September 27, 2018
Before he had the chance to become one of the best feel-good stories of the 2019 season, Zimmer was a promising prospect for the Royals. After signing for $3 million, Zimmer exploded on the scene, posting a 2.04 ERA and striking out over a batter per inning in 39.2 innings in 2012. Zimmer’s success continued in 2013, reaching AA for four starts, before injuries hampered his development. Between 2016 and 2017, Zimmer was healthy enough to throw just 42.1 innings, facing elbow, lat, and shoulder issues, and surgery to correct Thoracic Outlet Syndrome in July 2016.
As recently as 2016, Zimmer found himself in various Top 100 prospect rankings, with a 2015 MLB.com report grading Zimmer’s four offerings as at least plus pitches, including a plus-plus fastball and a plus-plus curveball. Zimmer’s control graded as a plus as well, marking all the makings of a future ace.
At 27 years old, there is still plenty of time for Zimmer to carve out a significant MLB career. Whether that career includes starting or a spot in the bullpen, it will be hard not to root for Kyle Zimmer in 2019 and beyond.