The Kansas City Royals already have the majority of their offensive future in the majors and will complete the latest edition of their lineup rebuilding once they call up Wil Myers in 2013, but despite the vaunted pitching depth that their farm system boasted not long ago, their major league pitching staff is still in need of much help.
It's not surprising then that there is speculation that 2012 first round pick (fifth overall) Kyle Zimmer could start the 2013 season as high as Double-A. That speculation comes from Paul Neilson of NWAOnline (a Northwest Arkansas newspaper, the home of the Royals Double-A affiliate) via KingsofKauffman.com.
Thanks to the new earlier signing deadline, Zimmer was able to throw 39 2/3 innings this season, making three shortened starts in the Arizona Rookie League before joining the Low-A Kane County Cougars. He made six starts in the Midwest League, posting a 2.43 ERA in 29 2/3 innings and showing good control. He struck out almost a batter per inning and walked just eight batters during his stint.
As a college pitcher, it's easy to believe that Zimmer could move quickly through the Royals system, and thanks to his experience this summer, it's not out of the question to think that he could make the jump to Double-A to start the season. There is little harm, however, in sending him to High-A Wilmington to begin the season in a pitcher-friendly ballpark, unless they are worried about exposing him arm to the cold weather of the Carolina League in April.
As Michael Engel of KoK points out in the linked article above, a promotion like this would signal a change in philosophy for the Royals, who to this point have been patient with their pitching prospects. That approach hasn't worked terribly well in the development of their pitchers, however, so it may be time to try something new.