In what seems like record time – a mere three days – Kyle Zimmer has gone from being the unsigned #5 overall pick to a member, and no doubt one of the top prospects, of the Royals organization.
The Royals held a press conference yesterday afternoon to announce that they had reached a deal with Zimmer. While the terms of the contract were not made public at the time, the figures eventually made their way out.
The Royals and Zimmer agreed upon a $3 million signing bonus, $500K lower than the slot the Royals were given at the number five. The extra $500K the team saved could help them potentially sign high school players who are on the fence between college and the pros.
Alongside Royals assistant general manager of player development J.J. Picollo and scouting director Lonnie Goldberg, his parents in tow, Kyle adorned a Royals jersey and cap and answered questions from the KC media. Questions arose about the hamstring and subsequent groin injury he suffered toward the end of the season. Zimmer assured that he is nearly 100% and ready to take the mound again.
“The hamstring is feeling great and the groin is feeling pretty good, too. It’s just a little bit of tightness. But my arm’s never felt better … I’m really looking forward to just getting back on the field and being able to just feel the dirt under my feet again.” – Kyle Zimmer
So where does he go from here?
The plan is for Kyle to attend extended spring traning in Arizona, where the Royals can keep a close eye on his hamstring, before likely being assigned to Low A Kane County. The hope is for him to get in 45-60 innings on the mound this summer in order to keep him on track to start next season in High A Wilmington.
The Royals hope to see Zimmer take the bump in Kansas City within the next two to three years.
Side note: The Royals also signed another draft pick – third round selection LHP Colin Rodgers. The Louisiana high schooler signed for $700K ($223,500 over the suggested bonus).
Tuesday was a busy day for the Boys in Blue.
The Draft: Rounds 2-15
Apparently Kyle Zimmer wasn’t enough for the Royals. One day after taking Zimmer 5th overall, the Royals selected a total of seven pitchers in rounds 2-15 (3 college, 4 high school).
They started the day by taking Vanderbilt lefty Sam Selman with pick no. 66. Selman,21, hasn’t been a front-line starter for the Commodores, but he’s a guy that Royals scouts saw get better as the season went on. The Royals took Louisiana high school lefty Colin Rodgers, 18, with their 3rd round pick, their first selection from the high school ranks. Rodgers is currently commited to play baseball at Auburn. He possesses a plus-curveball that normally sits between 75-78 with a sharp break. The Royals addressed their biggest organizational need by selecting three pitchers with their first three picks.
Kansas City finally selected their first position player in round four by selecting Stanford infielder Kenny Diekroeger with the 133rd overall pick. Diekroeger was selected out of high school in the 2nd round by Tampa Bay in the 2009 draft. Opting rather to attend Stanford, Kenny turned down a signing-bonus of $2 million from the Rays. He saw his numbers dip a little bit during his time at Stanford, but Royals scouting director Lonnie Goldberg still sees great potential – “We think this guy has plus-plus makeup. We’re anxious to get a wood bat in his hand. We think he has a ton of upside.” – Goldberg to Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star. During his time at Stanford, Kenny played third base his freshman year before shifting over to shortstop for his sophomore season. He then shifted across the infield again during his junior season by moving over to second base.
They didn’t waste any time picking up their second position player in the next round, drafting catcher Chad Johnson. No, not that Chad Johnson. This Chad Johnson is a high school catcher out of Illinois. The left-handed hitting catcher’s clame to fame is hitting a homerun into the right field seats of Busch Stadium.
Rounds 6-15 went as follows:
6. Zach Lovvorn RHP, Oxford HS (Alabama)
7. Fred Ford 1B/OF, Jefferson Community College (Missouri)
8. Alfredo Escalera-Maldonado OF, Pendleton HS (Florida)
9. Daniel Stumpf LHP, San Jacinto Junior College (Texas)
10. Alexis Rivera OF/1B, Montverde Academy (Florida)
11. Zeb Sneed RHP, Northwest Nazarene Junior College (Idaho)
12. Jackson Williford 2B, Ramona High School (California)
13. Hunter Haynes LHP, Mexico High School (Missouri)
14. Mike Morin C, University of Utah
15. Dylan Sons LHP, Halifax County High School (Virginia)
The draft concludes today with rounds 16-40 taking place via conference call.
Verdugo Promoted, Smith Optioned
After another rocky outing, the Royals decided to option lefty Will Smith back to Omaha and promote lefty Ryan Verdugo.
Will Smith sandwiched one quality outing with two sub-par starts. He was 1-2 in those three starts, allowing 14 runs in 14 innings pitched.
Verdugo was 3-1 in 11 starts for Omaha and sported a 3.61 ERA. Although he’s been a exclusively a starter this season, he’ll serve his time in Knasas City as a member of the bullpen – likely as a long-reliever.
Verdugo may not be in Kansas City for long, as manager Ned Yost anticipates the Royals adding a position player to the roster before Friday when the Royals travel to Pittsburgh to continue their road portion of interleague schedule. In the mean time, he’ll wear #62 – the number he wore for the Royals in spring training.
The Royals acquired Ryan Verdugo last November, along with lefty Jonathan Sanchez, from the Giants in the Melky Cabrera trade.
Speaking of Interleague Play…
When the Royals travel to Pittsburgh this Friday, don’t expect to see Eric Hosmer roaming the right-side of the infield.
Instead, you’ll be seeing Hoz snagging flyballs in right field.
In an effort to maximize offense, the Royals plan to use Billy Butler at first base. In turn, Hosmer will be in right field, thus shifting Jeff Francoeur to center field and Jarrod Dyson to the bench.
Hosmer got a handful of innings in the outfield this spring in preparation for interleague play.
Pitching and Defense Does it Again
For the third time in the past five games, the Royals have shutout their opponent.
It all got started last Friday when Felipe Paulino, Kelvin Herrera, Greg Holland, and Jonathan Broxton combined for a three-hit shutout over the A’s (final 2-0). They matched that 2-0 victory over the A’s by earning another 2-0 shutout over them that following Sunday. The bullpen combination of Herrera, Holland, and Broxton worked just as well this time behind starter Vin Mazzaro.
Then last night came. Bruce Chen pitched a masterful seven innings against the Twins. He surrendering only four hits, striking out five, and walking zero. Greg Holland followed suit by striking out the side in the eighth. Broxton came in to close the ninth in typical Jonathan Broxton fashion (one hit, one walk, tying and winning runs on base).
The only offense the Royals got (and needed, apparently) came in the bottom of the second. With two outs, after reaching on a fielder’s choice, Eric Hosmer swiped second base off of Twins starter Francisco Liriano. The move paid off when Brayan Pena brought Hosmer home on a single to left field.
The Royals will look to take the series 2-1 tonight at The K. Felipe Paulino (3-1, 1.70 ERA) will take the hill for the Royals. he’ll be pitted against the recenelty promoted Twins righty Nick Blackburn (1-4, 8.37 ERA).
- The Royals are 7-3 in their last 10 games. They have outscored their opponents 42-34 in that stretch.
- Jonathan Broxton has recorded a save in six of the last ten games.
- They have won their last three series’, and have won six of their last nine series’.
- Six Royals are listed among the leaders in the balloting for the All-Star game: SS Alcides Escobar (4th), DH Billy Butler (4th), 3B Mike Moustakas (5th), 2B Chris Getz (5th), OF Jeff Francoeur (10th), and OF Alex Gordon (13th).
- The Royals are averaging nearly 23,000 fans at home this season thus far. At this point last season, they were averaging just over 17,600 fans per home game.
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.
It’s June, which means the MLB draft season is upon us. Now, this isn’t like the NFL draft at all. Scouts work quietly all year in preparation, but rarely do you hear any chatter about the draft until about a week before it actually takes place. And the players that the teams select carry little to no impact on the team’s plans for that season or possibly the season after that.
Most years – with the exception of 2009 (Stephen Strasburg) and 2010 (Bryce Harper) – the first overall pick is usually surrounded by a cloud of mystery. Since most draft picks are at least 1-3 years away from being deemed “big league ready”, teams generally don’t draft for need (unless the organization is severely lacking depth at a certain position). Ergo, the concensus “best player available” is usually taken with each selection.
Since 2002, the Royals have had a fairly solid track record with the first round. They’ve picked a few duds (’03- OF Chris Lubanski; ’04- LHP Matt Campbell), but have for the most part done very well, selecting solid big league contributors (’02- RHP Zack Greinke; ’03- C Mitch Maier; ’04- 3B Billy Butler; ’04- LHP J.P. Howell; ’05- 3B Alex Gordon; ’06- RHP Luke Hochevar; ’07- SS Mike Moustakas; ’08- 1B Eric Hosmer; ’09- RHP Aaron Crow) and promising top prospects (’08- LHP Mike Montgomery; ’10 – SS Christian Colon; ’11- OF Bubba Starling).
The Royals are picking 5th overall on Monday night. The general frame of mind around baseball is that the Royals are seeking a college pitcher who is as close to big league ready as possible. Within this draft, there are three top-tier college pitchers who fit the bill:
RHP Mark Appel (Stanford), RHP Kevin Gausman (LSU), and RHP Kyle Zimmer (San Francisco).
Mark Appel (2012: 9-1, 2.37 ERA, 116 K/24 BB) is regarded as the cream of the crop and could likely be taken first overall by Houston, although nothing is certain. He has the frame (6’5″, 215) and the stuff (high-90s fastball and sharp slider) to make a rather quick transition from college to the bigs. Kevin Gausman (2012: 10-1, 2.84 ERA, 125 K/24 BB) possesses two plus-pitches (fastball and changeup), but needs to develop a third pitch. Kyle Zimmer (2012: 5-3, 2.85 ERA, 104 K/17 BB) has a powerful mid-90s fastball and a plus-curveball. He tends to leave his fastball up in the zone, which could lead to him getting knocked around a bit before he begins to remedy it.
The other two college names the Royals could consider – if the previously mentioned are gone by the time their selection rolls around – are RHP Michael Wacha of Texas A&M and RHP Marcus Stroman of Duke. Wacha and Stroman are seen in this draft as second-tier pitchers to the trio of Appel, Gausman, and Zimmer.
At 6’6″ and 200 lbs., Wacha’s frame is extremely projectible to the major leagues. He’s 8-1 with a 2.21 ERA and 107 K/17 BB in 2012 and has a plus-changeup, a low-90s fastball, and excellent command. Stroman, at least size-wise, is the anti-Wacha. He stands a stocky 5’9″ 190 lbs. But the former high school SS has what some scouts see is an MLB ready pitch repertoire. He is capable of dialing his fastball up to 98 mph, as well as a hard-biting slider/curve and a quality change-up. He’s a starter right now for Duke, but many teams may view him as a hard-throwing reliever in the majors due to his size.
Other intriguing names include a long list of highschoolers: power-hitting SS Carlos Correa (who scouts say is the best Puerto Rican prospect since Carlos Beltran), five-tool OF Byron Buxton (generally viewed as the top non-pitcher in the draft), 6’6″ RHP Lucas Giolito (who could’ve been the top pick if it weren’t for an elbow injury), LHP Max Fried (the top left-handed pitching prospect in the draft), and catcher Mike Zunino (solid both offensively and defensively – the draft’s top catcher).
If any one of Mark Appel, Kevin Gausman, or Kyle Zimmer are available at the no.5 spot, the Royals will undoubtedly take them. But if 2012’s draft is anything like 2011’s, where the Royals were selecting 5th and the first four picks were high-ceiling pitchers (3 college, 1 high school), they’ll be left to select who they deem the best player available (likely either OF Byron Buxton or SS Carlos Correa).
For what it’s worth, my selection for the Royals at no.5: RHP Kyle Zimmer (San Francisco)
The first round of the 2012 MLB Draft takes place Monday afternoon at 6 pm CT on MLB Network. Rounds 2-15 take place at 11 am CT on Tuesday, while rounds 16-40 will be on Wednesday at 11 am CT. Since only the first round will be televised, the remaining rounds will be simulcast live on MLB.com.