Sometimes guys in the baseball world joke about throwing an exploding slider and disappearing fastballs like described in the movie Bull Durham. I actually got to see them. I got to see them in 2013 when I watched Kyle Zimmer make his first AA start in Springdale and then followed the Naturals to Springfield to watch his second. Nineteen strikeouts in 12.0 dazzling innings later, I knew he was special. In fact, I still believe he is the best pitcher I have ever watched live in AA. I have been a fan of Zimmer ever since. To say that his stuff is explosive is an understatement.
We all know the disappointment of injuries that have plagued Zimmer’s career. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Zimmer was a promising fresh arm out of the University of San Francisco who signed for $3 million just 3 days after being drafted by the Royals fifth overall in 2012. He was a hard worker, a self-made 90 mph club member who ended up topping out close to 100. In fact, at one point before injury, he was described as having at least the ability of the late Yordano Ventura. Unfortunately, that’s when the injuries started coming fast and furious.
Zimmer went down early in 2014 with a lat strain. His rotator was cleaned up later that year. Then it was TOS. He got through that relieving the numbness and pain on his right side. Then he suffered fatigue related to TOS. He’s had that elbow cleaned up as well. Hopefully all of that was because of the TOS and he can be healthy from here on out.
There is still hope. Zimmer was up to 97 as recently as last July. He has potential to be an ace. He has the potential to be a shutdown closer getting the 27th out routinely. He has the ability to do whatever you want him to do on the mound in a major league baseball game. A lot of people have given up on him and just make jokes about his injuries. It is disappointing for sure, and I’m sure no one feels worse than him as he watches his little brother live out his dream.
I don’t know what the Royals plans are for Zimmer but I would love to see him start 2018 in the bullpen with the major league club. I am telling you, when he finally stays healthy and dominates, you will appreciate what he brings every time he takes the mound. It is a show to be seen and I just hope he gets back to what he was on that mound in 2013.