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'Close to helping,' Zimmer to start KC spring opener

Coming off healthy season, prospect will get the ball Wednesday vs. Rangers
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals manager Ned Yost named his starter for the Cactus League opener on Wednesday, and it was a bit of a surprise: right-hander Kyle Zimmer, the fifth overall pick of the 2012 Draft and the Royals' No. 2 prospect according to MLB Pipeline.

Zimmer, 24, is in just his second big league Spring Training camp, and he's coming off his first healthy season in 2015 after 2 1/2 injury-filled seasons. Zimmer likely will start the season in Double-A.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals manager Ned Yost named his starter for the Cactus League opener on Wednesday, and it was a bit of a surprise: right-hander Kyle Zimmer, the fifth overall pick of the 2012 Draft and the Royals' No. 2 prospect according to MLB Pipeline.

Zimmer, 24, is in just his second big league Spring Training camp, and he's coming off his first healthy season in 2015 after 2 1/2 injury-filled seasons. Zimmer likely will start the season in Double-A.

So, was this a reward for all of Zimmer's hard work?

Royals' Spring Training info | Schedule | Tickets

"I think it's more of, 'Hey, you're getting close to helping us,'" Yost said. "Just give him an opportunity to compete. He's healthy. Time to give him some starts.

"I've never seen the kid healthy, but all the reports you get is that his stuff is as good as [Yordano] Ventura's."

Zimmer found out he will be starting against the Rangers from pitching coach Dave Eiland.

"I said, 'Let's get it on,'" Zimmer said smiling. "But I'm not going to try to amp up too much. He told me don't try to go out there and do too much. Don't pretend you're in midseason form, because nobody is at this point. Just go out there and have some fun. That's really what I'll try to do."

Zimmer said that while it's only Spring Training, he still was very grateful to get the first start.

"It's obviously a great honor to be with the team in the dugout for the first time since they celebrated [a World Series title]," Zimmer said. "And to be able to run out with them, it will be exciting. It's an exciting time to be a Royal. Hopefully it won't be the last time I run out with the team. Maybe it'll happen again in September and October."

Zimmer expects to have some butterflies.

"Anytime you pitch the first game of spring or in some small town [in the Minors], before the game you want to have some butterflies because that shows you care," he said. "I don't want to say there will be nerves, but there will be some kind of anxiousness, I'm sure, because I want to do well and get some outs.

"It has been a long offseason, waiting to get in some action. I'm excited for the opportunity and to get out there."

The next five starters for the Royals in the Cactus League could be how the season's rotation goes: Edinson Volquez, Ventura, Ian Kennedy, Chris Young and Kris Medlen.

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.

 

Kansas City Royals, Kyle Zimmer