BLUF: Number two starter ceiling with at least two plus pitches and a feel for pitching.
The Player: Kyle Zimmer (RHP, University of San Francisco) – Pitched very little (5 1/3 innings) as a freshman before bursting onto the scene as a sophomore. Struck out 89 batters in 91 1/3 innings of work, finishing with a 3.73 ERA as the team’s Friday starter. Made an even bigger name for himself by beating UCLA’s Gerrit Cole in the 2011 NCAA Regional. In this his junior season, Zimmer has allowed 35 hits in 46 1/3 innings across seven starts. He has walked just seven batters and struck out 51 while holding opposing hitters to just a .210 batting average.
Basis of Report: Industry Contacts
Body (6-4, 215): Stocky lower half with thick, strong legs. Looks wider than he is. Strong upper body with good physical conditioning. Physically mature. Good athlete.
Delivery/Mechanics: Quiet windup with good balance throughout. Slight pause at the top to gather himself and then explodes to the plate. Lightning quick arm with consistent arm circle and arm slot. Ball jumps out of his hand and he has good angle to the plate. Finishes completely. Typically on balance but will occasionally fall off to first base.
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Wind-up): High – 98, Low – 91, Average – 92-94, Grade – 60/70
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Stretch): High – 96, Low 90, Average 92-93, Grade – 60/70
Fastball (FB) Movement: Good angle. Ball jumps out of hand and gets on the hitters quickly. Has good late life when down in the zone. Difficult to square up. Flattens out up in the zone. Could stand to add some sink or cut to the ball on occasion, just to give a different look. Grade – 40/50
Overall Fastball: Velocity has spiked this spring. Shows consistent plus velocity instead of average to above-average velo as in past. Will go in spurts where he’s consistently 94-96 mph. Hasn’t shown he can maintain that throughout a start, could come with added conditioning and a pro throwing program. Some scouts would like to see him manipulate the movement of the ball more, but admitted that was quibbling. Grade – 60/70
Curveball (CB): Averages 75-77 mph. When on top, shows tight over-hand spin with plus-plus 12-6 break. Sharp, biting break that can miss bats both in the zone and when thrown as a chase pitch. Doesn’t always stay on top of it, typically when he overthrows the CB, leaving it flat and up in the zone. Potential plus, bat-missing pitch with more consistency. Grade – 40/60
Change-up (CH): Averages 82-83 mph. Good arm speed and it comes out of the same slot as his FB. Struggles to command the CH and its more of a straight CH. Could use some fade or sink to be more effective. Below-average pitch with some potential to improve as he trusts it more and gains feel for it. Has a tendency to get too firm with it, running it up to 85-86 mph. Grade – 30/50
Control: Throws strikes consistently with both FB and CB. Can throw the CH for strikes as well but doesn’t trust the pitch enough to throw it in the zone consistently. Repeatable delivery should lead to consistent plus control long term. Grade – 50/60
Command: Good arm action with simple mechanics and good athleticism. All signs point to at least average big-league command down the line. Flashes average now but needs more consistency, particularly with ability to move CB to both sides of the plate. Needs to improve ability to elevate FB and go for the kill. Should come with experience. Grade – 30/50
Summation: FB-CB combo could provide two true plus pitches that can miss bats and get outs in the big leagues. FB has a chance to be a 70-grade pitch if improved velo can be maintained with higher pitch counts. Intelligent pitcher that knows how to work a batter and set up his pitches. Consistency with the CB and improvement with the CH should allow him to take advantage of his intelligence. Potential number two starter if everything comes together, and a workhorse number three starter without reaching full potential with all pitches and command.
Relative Risk: Moderate. Durable body with good mechanics and rapidly improving raw stuff. Carries inherent amateur pitcher related risk but little beyond that.
Draft Projection: Easy mid-first round pick with potential to go in the top ten with continued success this spring. Really strong showings leading up to the draft, including maintained plus-plus velocity and CB consistency could push him into the top three or four picks in the draft.