Kyle Zimmer did not make a start before May because of a shoulder problem that surfaced in spring training and he did not make a start after May because of shoulder fatigue. He underwent Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery in July -- a procedure that essentially ended Chris Carpenter's career and was one of the final straws before Josh Beckett was forced into early retirement. Perhaps no pitching injury has been as consistently limiting in recent years as Zimmer's ailing right shoulder. He has only logged 74.1 innings since the start of 2014. There is no denying that he still has frontline stuff, as he logged a 2.30 ERA and 88:30 K:BB over that stretch. However, his inability to overcome the shoulder issue and this subsequent surgery overshadow all of the potential he demonstrates when he toes the rubber. He is expected to be ready for spring training, but at age 25 and with just 67.2 innings logged above High-A, Zimmer amounts to no more than a lottery ticket in dynasty leagues.
Zimmer left Thursday's start for Triple-A Omaha after one inning with right shoulder soreness, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports. The Royals are saying that his removal was precautionary, but given Zimmer's long history of shoulder troubles, this is cause for concern. Zimmer was limited to just three starts last season due to shoulder fatigue and he has thrown fewer than 100 innings total since the start of 2014. The fifth overall pick in 2012, he ultimately underwent Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery last year in hopes of putting those issues behind him.
Zimmer will have his minor-league innings carefully managed this season and the righty is not expected to join the MLB club this year, Mark Schremmer of The Joplin Globe reports. Zimmer, the Royals' first-round pick (No. 5 overall) in 2012, has been plagued by injuries that have limited him to just 66 games over parts of six minor-league seasons. The organization's No. 6 prospect can sling his heater near triple digits, and by most accounts, has the makings of a front-line starter when healthy. Currently being used as a starter for Triple-A Omaha, Zimmer is not following the same routine for off days as the other minor-league pitchers in an effort to protect his health. While the number is unknown, the Royals are expected to impose an innings limit on the 25-year-old this season.
Zimmer was moved to Triple-A Omaha on Tuesday, Rustin Dodd of MLB.com reports. The Royals apparently felt comfortable promoting Zimmer after he pitched in one game at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, where he threw four innings and allowed one run on six hits while striking out six. The 25-year-old is coming off Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery in the summer, though he still remains one of the Royals' top prospects. If he is able to bounce back well from the procedure at Triple-A, he could make his big-league debut as a reliever at some point in 2017.
Zimmer was optioned to Double-A Northwest Arkansas on Wednesday, MLB.com's Jeffrey Flanagan reports. Though Zimmer remains one of the better pitching prospects in the Royals system, he's lost a little luster in dynasty formats over the last few years to ongoing shoulder troubles, which he addressed through Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery last summer. If Zimmer bounces back well from the procedure, he could make his MLB debut as a reliever at some point in 2017, but for now, the Royals will let the 25-year-old stretch out as a starter in the minors.
Zimmer (shoulder) threw his second bullpen session of spring on Tuesday, noting he felt no pain afterwards, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports. This is obviously good news for the 25-year-old, who at this point last season was already starting to feel pain and taper off. The Royals are continuing to bring him along slowly, after he failed to pitch more than 65 innings in each of the last three seasons due to injuries. He is set to start his first Cactus League game Sunday.
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