Ball Star

Royals' Kyle Zimmer continuing his education

Updated: 2013-09-04T18:24:34Z

By PETE GRATHOFF

The Kansas City Star

The regular season ended for most of the Royals' minor-league teams on Monday, but I have some leftover material in the notebook, so I'll be rolling it out this week.

Right-hander Kyle Zimmer has had a chance to see the country this year.

Zimmer, the Royals’ first pick in last year’s draft, has gone from Wilmington, Del., to Springdale, Ark., to San Francisco.

OK, San Francisco is not a Royals’ minor-league affiliate, but that is where he attended college before being drafted by the Royals after his junior year. After pitching for Class A-Advanced Wilmington and Class AA Northwest Arkansas, Zimmer went back to campus.

“He was going to go back to school,” said J.J. Picollo, the Royals' Assistant General Manager for Scouting and Player Development. “That was in the works the whole time, because he was going to get to the number of innings we thought was sufficient in his first full season.”

Between Wilmington and Northwest Arkansas, Zimmer threw 108 1/3 innings.

After a rough start with the Blue Rocks, Zimmer bounced back over this last eight starts, going 5-2, 1.84 over his final eight starts with 25 hits allowed, 63 strikeouts and nine walks in 44 innings pitched.

In Zimmer’s final start on Aug. 14, he was pulled from the game after throwing two perfect innings.

“He was experiencing some fatigue in his shoulder. Structurally there’s nothing wrong,” Picollo said. “We obviously did what we had to with our doctors to make sure there was nothing. He had some soreness and a tired shoulder, is really what it was.

“We didn’t want to push it. We skipped a start in there and then we pushed him back a little bit. We were going to do that until the end of the year. But at the end of that second inning, he was still feeling tired. There’s no pain there. We didn’t think it was worth the 10 to 12 innings we’re trying to get out of him to finish the year.”

Zimmer, who turns 22 on Sept. 13, showed so much progress that he could be in the mix to pitch for the Royals next season.

However, the Royals will be watching Zimmer’s innings.

“If he’s in the major leagues, not necessarily opening day, but if he’s in the major leagues come June, you’re already talking about pitching a full month extra, pitching through September,” Picollo said. “The general rule of thumb is 20 percent. You’ll let a guy go 20 percent more innings than he had the previous year. We’ll try to stick to that.

“It’s not a hard number, but history and research says that’s how you should handle guys. It’s a good target number to try to achieve from one year to the next. Of course, you’re going to top out at some point in a year. A No. 1 in the major leagues will go 250 innings, but I’d like to think we’ll have that problem in a couple of years.”

IDAHO FALLS WINS: Daniel Rockett stayed red-hot as he collected three hits, including two doubles, and scored twice in the Chukars’ 8-5 win at Orem.

Idaho Falls, the Royals’ Rookie-Advanced team, opened up a 3 1/2-game lead over Orem in the Pioneer League's South Division. The Chukars could clinch a playoff berth with a win today.

Rockett also had an RBI. In his last nine games, he is hitting .444 (16 for 36) with three doubles, three home runs and 12 RBIs. Frank Schwindel also had three hits, including a double, and collected three RBIs. In his last four games, Schwindel is batting .412 (seven for 17).

Tim Melville made his second appearance, allowing a run in one inning of work. Jonathan Dziedzic, 2-0, pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings. He gave up three hits and struck out five.

Kyle Bartsch struck out all four batters he faced in 1 1/3 innings.

To reach Pete Grathoff, call 816-234-4330 or send email to pgrathoff@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/pgrathoff

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