Rotoprofessor’s Prospect Watch – Jordan Zimmerman
Written by Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor
The former second round draft pick in 2007 by the Washington Nationals (#67 overall) is coming off a stellar 2008 campaign that he split between High Single A and Double A. He threw a total of134 innings, going 10-3 with a 2.89 ERA and 134 K’s vs. 39 walks. The numbers were better at Single A (3-1, 1.65 ERA over 27.1 innings), but at 22-years old that isn’t a surprise.
His success should not be unexpected, as he likely would have been a first round choice had a series of events not caused him to drop significantly. As Baseball America described it, “Zimmermann took a line drive off his jaw while throwing batting practice in an offseason workout. That injury, combined with bad weather in Wisconsin and missed time when he had his wisdom teeth pulled, affected his spring”.
Given the fact that he’s gone 15-5 with a 2.74 ERA and 205 K’s in just 187 innings since he was drafted tells you that the Nationals drafted intelligently. Prior to 2008, Baseball America had him pegged as the #7 prospect in the Nationals organization, but I would suspect the ranking will increase significantly once they roll out their 2009 rankings.
There really isn’t much not to like about him thus far. At Double A he posted a WHIP of 1.20, and the supporting numbers are not all that unrealistic. Granted, the BABIP of .288 is a little bit on the lower side, but even if it increases a little bit the WHIP isn’t going to leap up significantly. His BB/9 was 3.29, a number that he could actually improve upon.
Obviously, I’m not going to suggest that if given the opportunity at the major league level that he could immediately throw to that type of WHIP. It’s pretty unreasonable to assume. Still, it would appear that he has the type of stuff that could translate to success, though like any young pitcher it is likely to take some time for him to get there.
Of course, he needs an opportunity, something that he could get in Washington. Like I recently discussed when it came to Daniel Cabrera, the Nationals rotation is pretty baron. They’ll have Scott Olsen, John Lannan and Cabrera, then two open spots that pitchers can compete for. Among the candidates are Colin Balester, Shairon Martis, Jason Bergmann and Ross Detwiler, but none have the same type of upside potential as Zimmerman.
That’s not to say that Zimmerman will start the season with the major league club. In fact, I think the Nationals will have him kick things off at their Triple A affiliate, the Syracuse Chiefs, in the International League. That will allow him to test his skills against some more advanced hitters before he joins the Nationals, which should happen by June in my opinion.
Let’s be honest here, what exactly do the Nationals have to lose? It is highly unlikely that they are even in the discussion among the NL East elite, with the Mets, Phillies and Braves all to likely be well ahead of them, as well as the Marlins seemingly on the verge of being competitive.
Pitching for the Nationals is going to make it difficult for Zimmerman to be a useful pitcher for fantasy owners. He’s not likely to get ample opportunity to win games, which certainly affects his value. He’s also likely to face an innings cap, meaning he may only give you 2-3 months of starts, another knock against him.
The strikeouts will be useful, but he has seen a decrease as he moved up the levels, at just 8.69 K/9 at Double A. If that trend continues, he’d likely be a useful strikeout artist, but far from the elite. The WHIP is also going to increase, and while I wouldn’t expect him to be in the 1.50 range, he’s also not going to be a 1.25 pitcher either.
Basically, what I’m telling you is that while Zimmerman has the potential and talent to be a tremendous pitcher, 2009 is unlikely to be the year that we as owners see it. Yes, I think he’ll get an opportunity and yes, I think he’s worth watching and monitoring. Outside of keeper leagues, however, he’s just not going to be worth grabbing, mostly because of the team he pitches for.
My real question here is how much faith do you have in a Nationals pitching prospect heading into 2009? Personally, I don’t have much, as you can tell here.
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