Royals assign Zimmer to Northwest Arkansas

Kyle Zimmer might contribute to Kansas City's pitching staff at some point this season, but it won't be right away. The Royals optioned him to Double-A Northwest Arkansas on Wednesday.

Zimmer, the Royals' first-round pick (fifth overall) in the 2012 draft, has outstanding stuff and is considered the organization's top pitching prospect. But the right-hander has endured a number of injuries in his short career, including arm pain last spring that limited him to 5 2/3 minor league innings before undergoing surgery in August for thoracic outlet syndrome.

So, Zimmer, 25, will open the season with the Naturals.

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Another top prospect, pitcher Josh Staumont, was reassigned to minor league camp. Staumont, a 23-year-old right-hander, has moved rapidly through the Kansas City system after starting last season at Class-A Wilmington.

The Royals reassigned seven other players to minor league camp: pitchers Jonathan Dziedzic, Luke Farrell and Eric Skoglund; catchers Xavier Fernandez and Chase Vallot, and outfielder Alfredo Escalera and infielder Corey Toups.

The Royals now have 55 active players in major league camp, which does not include left-hander Brian Flynn, who is on the 60-day disabled list. Of those 55 players, 16 are non-roster invitees.