You couldn’t have scripted it any better. There was drama, mystery, suspense, and joy all within the first hour of 2012’s First Year Player Draft.
The Houston Astros shocked everyone by taking Pureto Rican high school SS Carlos Correa with the #1 pick. The pick of Correa wasn’t what shocked people. It was the fact that they passed on the two names who were thought to be the concensus #1 and #2 picks in Stanford RHP Mark Appel and 5-tool high school OF Byron Buxton.
The Twins, to nobody’s surprise, took Buxton with the second pick. Catcher Mike Zunino of Florida went third overall to Seattle, while LSU RHP Kevin Gausman was taken fourth by the O’s.
Insert possible Royals drama here.
Both Mark Appel and Kyle Zimmer were still on the table. Jim Callis of Baseball America, who was working with MLB Network during the live broadcast, thought there was no way Appel would fall further than Kansas City at #5. Afterall, Appel was going to Houston with the first pick on thousands of draft boards (including every single one of Jonathan Mayo’s mock drafs). If someone who was supposed to go #1 overall falls to #5 somehow, the general M.O. is that you take him. Period.
But the Royals knew exactly who they wanted. The clock ticked it’s way down to zero when commissioner Bud Selig made his way to the podium.
The pick was in: RHP Kyle Zimmer.
Royals scouting director Lonnie Goldberg had this to say about Zimmer:
“He was the No. 1 pitcher on our board. I think it’s important that everybody know that. He was our guy. He was the guy we wanted, the guy we targeted.”
Kyle Zimmer, 20, fits the bill of what the Royals have been wanting all along: an advanced college pitcher who has a legitimate chance to make his way through the system quickly. Zimmer has the perfect frame for a starting pitcher (6’4″, 225 lbs.) and has the stuff to possibly contribute at the bug league level sooner rather than later.
Zimmer has great command of all of his pitches (evidenced by his unreal 104 Ks to just 17 BB). His fastball consistently sits in the mid-to-upper 90’s (capable of hitting 98-99 mph), while his curveball is considered his out pitch. His changeup needs some polishing, but isn’t far behind the rest of his pitches.
Baseball America noted:
“(Zimmer) has a businesslike approach on the mound and pitches with a bit of a mean streak, which scouts love. (His) athleticism also helps him on the mound. He repeats his delivery well and fields his position like an extra infielder.”
Another reason to favor Zimmer over the other college arms is that he has been a full-time pitcher for only two seasons, meaning his arm is still relatively fresh and has nowhere near the amount wear and tear a pitcher of his age and caliber should have. He was converted from a third baseman/outfielder to a pitcher at the University of San Francisco. According to Zimmer: “I was always a hitter growing up. But I guess the move paid off.”
The MLB draft will continue today at 11 pm CT with rounds 2-15. Each club is allowed one minute to make their selection in rounds 2-10. Every pick after that is to be made without any delay. The Royals first pick today will be pick number 66.