Prospect Zimmer to be ready for Spring Training

Royals work Cuthbert at second base in instructional league

Prospect Zimmer to be ready for Spring Training

KANSAS CITY -- Royals right-hander Kyle Zimmer, the organization's No. 5 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, recently completed a four-week throwing program as protocol following thoracic outlet syndrome surgery last summer.

Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo reported all systems were go for Zimmer, 24.

"He's back home in San Diego and getting ready for his normal offseason with training and conditioning," Picollo told MLB.com. "So everything looks good on that end."

Zimmer, the team's first-round pick (fifth overall) in the 2012 Draft, has battled a variety of arm and shoulder issues since being selected. He is 12-19 with a 3.24 ERA in 64 games (46 starts) over five Minor League seasons, making just three combined appearances between Class A Advanced Wilmington and Double-A Northwest Arkansas before surgery. 

When healthy, Picollo has said Zimmer's overall stuff is as good as anyone's in the organization.

Zimmer should be ready to compete in Spring Training.

Cuthbert at second base

One of the interesting questions the Royals' front office faces entering the 2017 season is what to do with third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert, who filled in for the injured Mike Moustakas in '16 and hit .274 with 12 homers and 46 RBIs.

Moustakas will be back in Spring Training to reclaim his job, and Cuthbert will be out of options, which has Kansas City trying to determine how he could help the 25-man roster.

The Royals seem sure to decline the mutual option on designated hitter Kendrys Morales, and offering Morales the qualifying offer (around $17 million) could be risky, meaning the DH spot could be open for Cuthbert.

But if the Royals re-sign Morales, Cuthbert will have to show he can be versatile. Over the past few years, the Royals have been trying to get Cuthbert acclimated with second base. That was the intent of sending Cuthbert to the instructional league earlier this month.

Cuthbert's solo homer

The verdict?

"Cheslor did very well in very limited action in games," Picollo said. "He did not hit in games but got into a few games at second base.

"He did a lot of work with our coaches down there [in Surprise, Ariz.], and they worked on a lot of different things at second base. It all looked good. It was nothing he hadn't done before. It was just a 10-day window for us to hone in some skills, and he did well with it."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.