We are about a week into the college baseball season, but Universityof San Francisco RHP Kyle Zimmer has already made a huge jump on the draft boards. Baseball America wrote an article Thursday on the young man and they talked about how he ranked 28th overall on their top 100 draft prospect list but he is now much higher on the list. The article even quoted some scouts that see Zimmer as a front-runner now as the first overall pick, a title that Stanford’s Mark Appel previously held.
You really have to be doing something right to jump up draft boards like that this early on in the season. Zimmer has only pitched in one game thus far, San Francisco’s season debut and he already has scouts raving about him. So why has Zimmer jumped up Draft boards so much?
Zimmer came out and pitched a very impressive season opener. The stat line in that first start may not say it all but his overall stuff is what had scouts drooling over themselves. He pitched a great 4.0 innings giving up only one hit, zero walks, and striking out three. The reason we did not see Zimmer go very deep is that he is relatively new to pitching and he was shut down for almost the entire fall soSan Franciscois easing him back into things. They had him on a 40 pitch limit during that first game. Baseball America quotes a National League scout who said Zimmer’s velocity was great. He was up in the high 90s and “he never threw a pitch under 93.” One thing that really impressed me that the same scout also points out was that each of Zimmer’s first 22 pitches were thrown for a strike. Now that is something special.
To go along with his electric fastball, Zimmer’s arsenal also includes a curveball, a slider, and a changeup. All three of those pitches were also displayed in his season debut. His curveball was in the mid-80s, a hard curveball with some nice bite on it. Scouts view both his slider and curveball has good pitches, but giving the curveball the edge. The changeup has good deception and is another good pitch. One thing that scouts may like the most about Zimmer though is his pure athleticism. The scout Baseball America quoted in the article mentioned above also said “We’re not talking about a guy that just has good stuff. He’s an off-the-charts athlete—as good an athlete as you can get.” His athleticism leads me to my next point.
Reading a report of Zimmer from last year by Baseball Prospect Report they were really impressed by his arm strength and speed. The thing that Zimmer hadn’t quite figured out yet was the polish though and a feel for pitching but that was because he was so new to pitching. The report says, “He’s just chucking and ducking. He’s practically throwing standing up.” They talked about how he did not have a good feel for his extension and mechanics. Well in his 2012 season debut, Zimmer showed scouts a new developed feel for pitching and I think a large part of that was his him being able to work on those mechanics and most importantly repeat them because of his athleticism.
While Zimmer really helped his own stock, Mark Appel didn’t really help his stock. Yes, he did go out and have a great start pitching 7 innings, giving up only one run, and getting the win but he did not answer some of the questions scouts have had about him. The big question scouts have is Appel’s ability to make batters miss more frequently, rather than pitch to contact. Kevin Goldstein tweeted “A lot of teams love Stanford RHP Mark Appel; a lot of teams want to know when he’s going to miss college bats like a No. 1 pick should.” Well the season is still very young but Appel did not do the best job in his season debut of answering the question as he struck out only five batters. He did not really hurt his stock, but like I said he didn’t help it really either and Zimmer showed Appel up in terms of stuff in each of their season debuts’.
So there you have it. Baseball may just have a new, number 1 draft prospect in the right-handed arm of Kyle Zimmer. Zimmer is a hard throwing junior who can locate his pitches and has elite athleticism to top it all of. The season is still very early and a lot could happen but Zimmer has jumped onto the scene. He pitches again today (Friday) against Missouri. If his stock continues to rise like this, I may just have to make the two and a half hour drive down to the University of Portland where San Francisco comes up to play in April and see Zimmer myself.