Draft : : Top Prospects
Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Draft Focus: Kyle Zimmer

Allan Simpson        
Photo: San Francisco
Every weekday leading up to the 2012 MLB Draft, Perfect Game will be providing a scouting profile on a notable draft-eligible prospect.  Stay tuned to Perfect Game and be sure to visit the Draft Page for all of the latest info and reports pertaining to the draft.

Kyle Zimmer Perfect Game player profile

Position:  RHP
Height:  6-4
Weight: 220
Bats/Throws: R/R
Birthdate:  September, 1991
College:  San Francisco
Hometown:  La Jolla, Calif.
Previously Drafted:  Never drafted

Projected Draft Round:  1

Zimmer was a virtual unknown in the scouting community late last spring when he hooked up with UCLA righthander Gerrit Cole in an opening-round game of the NCAA tournament. With a large mass of scouts on hand to take in what turned out to be Cole’s last opportunity to pitch before he was ultimately taken with the No. 1 overall selection in the 2011 draft, it was Zimmer who ended up taking center stage.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound righthander was dazzling in retiring 26 of the first 28 UCLA hitters he faced before settling on a 3-0, four-hit shutout with no walks and 11 strikeouts. It was the first complete game of his college career and the obvious highlight of an otherwise modest 6-4, 3.73 sophomore season that included 89 strikeouts in 91 innings.

That signature outing instantly catapulted Zimmer up 2012 draft boards, and he did nothing but enhance his new-found status as a potential first-round pick during the summer in the Cape Cod League, even with a deceiving 2-5, 3.38 record for Cotuit.

Zimmer showcased an extremely loose arm on the Cape with a fastball that was a steady 92-94 mph, topping at 96 in his final outing. He also flashed a power slider and improving changeup, though the spotty command of his secondary pitches left room for improvement in the spring in order to solidify his new-found draft status. Though not as polished as his Cotuit teammate Chris Beck, a projected early first-round pick in this year’s draft, some scouts who saw both pitchers work in the latter stages of the Cape Cod season believed Zimmer had the higher upside of the two.

Prior to his breakout sophomore year, Zimmer had pitched sparingly in his career and was viewed, at best, as a mid-round draft pick. His only measureable success came during the summer following his freshman year at San Francisco, when he compiled a 1.37 ERA in 46 innings in the Cal Ripken League. Throughout most of his career at California’s La Jolla High, he was known mostly for his hitting acumen, and took up pitching in earnest only as a prep junior. As a freshman for the Dons, Zimmer worked just five innings as he transitioned to a full-time pitcher.

Zimmer made steady and significant headway on the mound as a sophomore for USF, and yet even as he took the mound in his celebrated showdown against Cole, he was less-known to a majority of southern California scouts than his younger brother Brad, a senior at La Jolla High who was drawing significant attention in the 2011 draft as a power-hitting outfielder.

As fate had it, the younger Zimmer (just 14 months Kyle’s junior) broke a bone in his hand in the weeks leading up to the draft, which curtailed much of the draft momentum he had gathered. He subsequently was picked by the Chicago Cubs in the 23
rd round, and elected not to sign in favor of joining his brother Kyle on the baseball team at USF.

Together, the Zimmers should become one of the top brother acts in college baseball this spring. But with Kyle’s spiraling draft status, they’ll likely end up playing together at USF for only one year.

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