NOVEMBER 22: The Royals announced Monday afternoon that they’ve placed Zimmer on release waivers.
NOVEMBER 19: The Kansas City Royals have added six players to their 40-man roster, per Anne Rogers of MLB.com. Making the move to the 40-man roster are some highly touted players, namely catcher MJ Melendez, first baseman Nick Pratto, shortstop Maikel Garcia, and right-handed pitchers Jonathan Bowlan, Collin Snider, and Nathan Webb. Right-handed pitcher Kyle Zimmer has been designated for assignment in order to accommodate these transactions, as the team’s 40-man roster is now full.
The 30-year-old Zimmer was a mainstay on top prospect lists for years following his fifth overall selection in the 2012 amateur draft. Frequent injuries ultimately dampened the hype surrounding the talented right-hander, but a very encouraging showing at the Major League level in 2020 gave some hope for optimism. A move to the bullpen yielded promising results in 2020 but that wasn’t true for the two seasons surrounding it, as Zimmer struggled to command the strike zone in the Major leagues either season. All told, Zimmer carries a 5.19 ERA through 95 innings at the game’s highest level. Teams will likely be lining up to take a flyer on a player who has shown flashes of brilliance when healthy enough to take the mound.
In one of the more obvious selections of the day, MJ Melendez finds himself on the 40-man squad after a monstrous showing in the minors. The 22-year-old catcher had only once seen his name appear on a Top 100 prospect list, back before a dismal 2019 season dimmed his star considerably. A .285/.372/.628 showing in Double-A this year turned into an even better .293/.413/.620 line at Triple-A however, putting him right back on the map as one of the more promising prospects in baseball. Positive reviews for his defense and 41 home runs in a minor league season should lead to a Major League promotion for Melendez soon.
The left-handed Pratto practically mimicked Melendez’s 2021 performance en route to a no-doubt 40-man roster selection. The fourteenth overall pick in the 2017 draft, Pratto struggled to live up to the hype in 2019 before the canceled 2020 minor league season allowed him to revamp his approach. Between Double-A and Triple-A Pratto hit a robust .265/.385/.602, with 36 home runs and 12 steals (in 17 tries).
By placing Maikel Garcia on their roster the Royals are protecting a more unheralded member of their organization. The 21-year-old has yet to show up on prospect lists or hit for much power, but the shortstop did show promise across two levels this past season. Garcia managed a solid .291/.380/.405 slash line across at the A and high-A levels, swiping 35 bags in 41 tries along the way.
Like the other Royals players listed here, 24-year-old Jonathan Bowlan found success in the 2021 season by pitching to a 1.59 ERA at the Double-A level. Unfortunately, that success came across just 17 innings before an elbow injury and subsequent Tommy John surgery wiped out his season. Bowlan’s second-round pedigree and strong 2019 season was clearly enough for the Royals to worry a rival team would pounce on a Rule 5 draft selection, even if Bowlan spends a portion of 2022 recovering from surgery.
A 26-year-old reliever, Collin Snider wasn’t listed among the Royals top 30 prospects in the eyes of MLB.com. After a solid Double-A showing looked to be upping his stock, Snider ran into Triple-A trouble. Across both levels and 66 innings Snider turned in a 4.48 ERA, with strong groundball rates but a strikeout rate that nosedived after the promotion. Kansas City likely views Snider as a player who more closely resembles the player he was in Double-A and may soon entrust him with a Major League gig with additional seasoning.
Nathan Webb is another relief prospect who showed enough in the minors this past season to warrant protection by the Royals. The 34th-rounder punched out 89 batters in just 59 innings, and saw both his command and groundball tendencies improve following a promotion to the High-A level. The resulting 3.94 is hardly elite, but rival teams may have been intrigued by a talented 24-year old who could pitch out of their bullpen for very little investment.