Kansas City Royals top pitching prospect Kyle Zimmer has been shut down with a lat injury and won't throw again for six to eight weeks, the club announced Tuesday. This comes on heels of phenom Yordano Ventura's elbow injury, so it's been a rough 24 hours for the Royals.
Zimmer, 22, was the Royals' first-round pick in 2012 (fifth overall) and entered the 2014 season ranked among the top 25 prospects in baseball by both MLB.com and Baseball America. He closed last season with four starts in Double-A and posted a 1.93 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings. He hadn't yet pitched this season as the Royals were trying to bring him along slowly and avoid an injury.
"We're not trying to reinvent the wheel," Kansas City assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said to MLB.com several weeks ago. "It's just a decision based on this individual and what's best for the organization. There's not an example or a model we can follow, but with all of the Tommy John surgeries and injuries to pitchers, getting guys through their first couple of seasons is so paramount. Our research shows that most of the injuries to pitchers occur in their first two full seasons in professional baseball, and then after seven or eight years."
Instead, Zimmer fell injured the first time he faced hitters:
Kyle Zimmer felt tightness in his first time against hitters on May 19. His velocity dipped to 89 mph, assistant GM JJ Picollo said.— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughStar) May 27, 2014
The good news is that Zimmer's shoulder and elbow are fine:
Team doctors examined Zimmer extensively and ruled out structural damage to his shoulder and elbow. “We know that his shoulder's fine."— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughStar) May 27, 2014
Still, going six to eight weeks without even playing catch means that 2014 is likely to be a lost season for the promising young pitcher.