Top Royals prospect Kyle Zimmer will undergo thoracic outlet surgery, according to Soren Petro of Sportsradio 810 WHP (via Twitter). The young righty will miss the rest of the season, but the club hopes he’ll make a full recovery.
This represents the latest setback for Zimmer, who has long intrigued scouts but has been limited by numerous arm issues. Now 24, Zimmer was taken fourth overall in the 2012 draft out of the University of San Francisco and has been a mainstay in top-100 rankings ever since.
In the five seasons since he became a professional, Zimmer has shown his talent — but only in limited bursts. All told, he has thrown only 222 1/3 innings. When he has been available, he’s been impressive, compiling a 3.24 ERA with 10.9 K/9 against 3.0 BB/9.
Heading into the 2016 season, there had been some hope that Zimmer might be ready to contribute at the major league level at some point. He opened at the High-A level and soon moved up to Double-A, much as he did in 2013 and 2015. But Zimmer dealt with shoulder issues this spring and ultimately threw just 5 2/3 innings before he was shut down.
On the positive side, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan tweets that Zimmer’s version of thoracic outlet syndrome is “neurogenic.” That is said to be the most common and least problematic type of the issue, with a relatively short recovery time. Kansas City seemingly hopes that Zimmer will be ready for a full spring in 2017, and Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star tweets that there’s an approximately eighty to ninety percent success rate for this particular procedure. Other hurlers to undergo the surgery include Chris Young and, more recently, Matt Harvey.
Still, the diagnosis hurts a Royals organization that has already parted with several talented young pitchers via trade in recent years and is weighing yet more moves. A healthy Zimmer might well have profiled as a top-flight trade chip, if not a solution to K.C.’s current rotation needs. If he can bounce back, the Royals might still have an important piece as they look to capitalize on a contention window without crippling the future too badly, but the latest surgery certainly doesn’t bode well for his outlook.