Cubs GM Jed Hoyer was in the stands on Friday to watch University of San Fransisco right hander Kyle Zimmer throw 6 innings of one run baseball with no walks and 7 strikeouts. He threw as hard as 98 mph while also featuring a slider, a change, and an 11-5 curveball (h/t reader Kevin).
The 6'4", 220 lbs Zimmer has come a long way as a pitcher. He pitched sparingly in high school where he was primarily a big slugging infielder. In his freshman year, Zimmer was still learning how to grip certain pitches. As you might expect, that lack of polish caused him to struggle a bit and he finished that year with an 8.44 ERA. The next year he improved to 6-4 with a 3.73 ERA then followed that up with an outstanding showing in the Cape Cod League. Zimmer ranked as the league's #8 prospect and then started the year as Baseball America's 15th rated college player and 28th player overall. He has since moved up the ranks and now seems certain to be a top 10 pick. One NL scout speculated that he could even go 1st overall.
One disadvantage is that Zimmer doesn't have a lot of experience. He is slowly working his way up to a heavier load as USF has been cautious with an arm that's relatively new to pitching. He seemed to wear down a bit by the end of his last outing and pitched in the lower 90s. In the long term, however, this could be an advantage as well as scouts will see an arm that doesn't have a lot of mileage on it.
Despite this lack of experience, Zimmer has excellent command and control of both his fastball and breaking pitches. As mentioned, he didn't walk a batter in his previous outing. He also started the season by throwing 22 straight strikes and completed 4 innings despite working with a 40 pitch limit.
Aside from his great stuff and command, Zimmer has an advanced feel for pitching already, something we've heard Director of Amateur Scouting Tim Wilken talk about in the past as something he values. That feel makes it more likely that the pitcher can remain a starter as he moves up the ladder. Zimmer is also very athletic, which should help him maintain his smooth delivery and command long term.
A month ago, Zimmer would have seemed a cinch to last until the Cubs 6th pick, but he's gaining a lot of momentum and one scout believes he's already passed pre-season top pitching prospect Mark Appel of Stanford.