Kyle Zimmer is back. Did you hear? Kyle Zimmer is back. He pitched. He pitched in a baseball game, and it wasn't a baseball game on some backfield in Arizona. It was an organized, professional baseball game that counts in some manner. Okay.
But yes... Kyle Zimmer pitched last night for the first time since October in the Arizona Fall League. He's making his return back from a sore shoulder that is a return back from shoulder surgery. This was just a drop in the Kyle Zimmer injury history bucket as he's had for the most part one off injuries (much like Sean Manaea).
When he's on the mound, Zimmer is usually very good. He has the talent to be one of the best pitchers in the minors (something that hopefully translates to the majors), but step 1 (actually pitching) has to come before step 2 (being good), otherwise it's all just theoretical.
Zimmer returned to organized baseball on last Friday, making his 2015 debut in Lexington (the Royals A Ball affiliate). Here's something fun to think about. Kyle Zimmer's brother is Bradley Zimmer, a prospect for the Cleveland Indians. Kyle was drafted in 2012. Brad was drafted in 2014. Both of them went to college. Both went to college at U of San Fran. Both were first round picks. Kyle debuted at age 20 in 2012. Bradley debuted at age 21 in 2014. This year Bradley is in A+. This year Kyle is in A Ball. So despite being drafted two years earlier, and at a younger age, Kyle's younger brother Brad is at a higher level on the org charts. Now, Kyle probably isn't staying in A Ball for the whole season (he's already been to AA before) as this is likely a rehab spot for a bit, and Brad is probably not going higher than AA this year, but come September both brothers could be in AA.
So let's look at Kyle's debut. I'll pose a question for you: for your first pitch returning from rehab, who are the top 3 minor league players you would not want to face? I'll list mine:
As it turns out, Zimmer got to face #3 on that list, Boston Red Sox Yoan Moncada who signed a $63M contract this March as one of the most hyped latin players of all time. A talent that justified the hype too. You should note that the previous record for an international amaeutur was $8.27MM (Yoan Lopez) and also note that what Moncada received is some many times more than what Lopez did.
Not only did Zimmer have to face one of the best prospects in baseball for his first inning back, but he had to also face one of the best teams in minor league baseball talent wise, the Greenville Drive.
Zimmer was excellent in his first inning.
So how about that first pitch?
He didn't even have to throw Moncada a strike to get a strike.
Moncada then would ground out to third baseman Angel Franco on the next pitch.
One pitch later, Zimmer would retire Javier Guerra on this groundout back to him.
Three pitches, two outs (none being on hard contact). Almost the best possible outcome for a pitcher.
Zimmer had excellent command in his first inning. Hitting the catcher's (Chase Vallot) target on two of the above GIFs and these as well.
A 2-0 fastball
A 2-1 fastball
Then finally retiring Michael Meyers on a 2-2 fastball right where Vallot sets up
Unfortunately there were no velocity mentions from Lexington's play by play man (Rob Gidel), so we don't know what he was working at on the fastballs for that inning.
The next inning though posed problems for Zimmer as a blooper and a retreat in command would cause him to leave to an out shy of a full inning.
The inning starts off with this bloop to Joe Monge
Zimmer then works an 0-2 count to Mo Dubon, but let's a wild pitch move the runner over to 2nd before getting Dubon to ground out.
The next at bat would bring this blocked pitch to Derek Miller
Eventually ending in a four-pitch walk to Miller.
Next Zimmer would get Rafael Devers to ground out softly to third base
Zimmer then had Jordan Procyshen down 0-2 and a strike away from ending the inning, but instead walked him.
0-2 95 MPH ball one
A 1-2 curveball that misses
On 2-2, you'd want Zimmer to challenge the hitter. He's got the stuff to beat A Ball hitters and wasted a couple pitches prior trying to see if Procyshen would chase. He almost did on the curveball, but ultimately laid off.
2-2 fastball that misses
Vallot sets up a bit high and away from the Procyshen, but Zimmer misses way high and off target for ball three.
A 3-2 fastball for ball four
With that, Zimmer's night was done. He had Procyshen down 0-2 but missed well high on fastballs and couldn't get Procyshen to chase on a curveball buried in the dirt.
The second inning was shaky, but other than some command blips (something Zimmer usually doesn't struggle with) Zimmer just generated weak contact.
Velocity wise, Zimmer was anywhere from 90-97 MPH on the night for his fastball. Zimmer usually sits 93-94 MPH generated through an easy delivery.
While the night was a good outing for Zimmer, we don't care much about the results right now but instead his velocity and command, while also being able to carry his stuff over innings. This was just the first of what will hopefully be many regularly scheduled outings for Zimmer, but the results were good and his velocity is still there.