Draft Preview: Cubs scouting RHP Kyle Zimmer

Draft Preview: Cubs scouting RHP Kyle Zimmer

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.


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  • Given the status of the system, I would really like it if the Cubs took a college starting pitcher with their first pick. It will fill our greatest need, and he would hopefully require a short development time.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    There's two very good ones in Appel and now Zimmer, but there's also a high school kid named Giolito who will also go in the top 5 or 6. College arms Gausman and Beck are also in play for that pick, but the Cubs may go for a position player if one of the top 3 arms isn't available.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Any chance they takeTexas commit "Billy" Williams with a later pick, after the new changes in the CBA?

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    He's dropping fast. Scouts love his tools but worried about his hit tool. Looks like a late first rounder now. Cubs could maybe get him with supplemental.

  • You never know with prospects John, he can flame out again. The draft is so fluid , I'm sure we have brand new people popping up by may

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    I'm sure the list will change again. Appel looked like a sure #1 a few months ago but now he has competition from Zimmer and Giolito.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Exactly!! We have 2 or 3 new names by late May, happens every year.

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    Good article John, but something just went off in my head as I was reading this, and I wanted to share.

    What if one of the unintended consequences of the new CBA is to exacerbate the problem of small market teams drafting even more based on signability?

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Not sure about that. The players are going to want to get picked higher because the team will have a higher limit to spend. The only way it's a problem is if small market teams don't want to spend as much as their allowed for that pick and want to make a pre-arranged deal with someone for..say..75% of the cap. But if I'm that player, why wouldn't I just wait, get the same money and be drafted by a better team?

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I should have stated so, but I was actually thinking about small market teams in the latter parts of.the early rounds where the pool money allotment will be smaller.

  • Great job, john! Hey, just curious- why do you think jed would be there if this guy's a 1 or 2 pick? Is it likely he could fall? Or would jed see all top 6 or 8 players, normally? Probably a stupid question.

  • In reply to MikeyB:

    There's a chance he could fall and he has to get out there and see if this is a guy they want if he falls to #6. He is a quick riser and as Steve said, things can change. Sometimes guys just get enamored with a guy and then he drops a bit again by draft time. Maybe Appel gets hot or someone else emerges. There are 3 top pitchers in Appel, Giolito, and Zimmer. A top college SS in Marrero, a top college C in Zunino and a top HS player in Buxton. The order can vary to some degree depending on team need and preference. Cubs are going to get a pretty good player at #6.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    One of them is sure to be there, maybe 2-3. I like it

  • keep up the great draft stuff John! I love it!

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Thanks! I know your a draftnik like I am. I'll profile players that I think the Cubs might be interested based on philosophy and need. With the sixth pick, it might be easier to peg down this year. Wilken made it difficult to predict because he goes to the beat of his own drummer, but with McLeod in charge we probably won't get so many surprises in the first round.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That's where my passion in sports lies the most - scouting & drafting

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Mine too.

  • Ive really liked Zunino for awhile & it looks like he's tearing the cover off the ball.. He looks like he can be an all star quality catcher for a long time.

    I like one of the college pitchers for sure -- Appel, Gausman & Zimmer, & Giolito out of the HS ranks--- but if those four are gone, I'd like them to take Zunino (though hard to pass on Marrero if he's there).

    Any way it shapes out, the #6 pick is looking pretty good right now.

  • In reply to Cub Fan Dan:

    Love that guy too. He's a Cubs type player, plays good defense, good plate approach, has some power.

    I think if Marrero shows well all year he doesn't get out of the top 5. Hard not to pick a true SS out of college with his potential.

  • From a 6th round pick to the possible #1 in a month is impressive. Thanks for the article John.

  • In reply to Moonlight:

    Thanks for reading!

    By the way, though, I meant 6th pick overall in baseball. Preseason he looked like a late first round pick, now he's almost certain to be a top 10 guy.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Great stuff as always partner, I really hope we are going to start drafting some college pitchers. That has always been my preference.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Thanks, Tom. Could be as many as 4 college arms worthy of the 6th pick plus 1 HS arm who may have the best stuff of them all in Giolito. Odds are good Cubs will get a good arm if they want one, but if there is a run on their favorites, that'll leave a pretty good position player for them. Either way they look to be in good shape the way things are playing out.

  • Minorleagueball did a mock with Cubs going picking up Max Fried LHP from one of the California HS.

  • In reply to furiousjeff:

    I've been told the Cubs have been scouting him as well and was planning on writing a piece on him next week sometime. He's another fast riser.

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