VIDEO: Changes help lead players to Blue Rocks
Sometimes the best laid plans don't always come to fruition. For two Blue Rocks two unexpected paths have led them onto the same Blue Rocks roster which will open play Thursday at Myrtle Beach.
Kyle Zimmer was recruited as a 3rd baseman to the University of San Francisco after graduating from California's La Jolla High School in 2009.
The Dons already had a 3rd baseman in Stephen Yarrow who hit 16 home runs with 46 RBI, putting a lock at the hot corner. Due to this, the coaching staff had to find another way to get Zimmer on the field.
Recognizing his strong arm, USF converted Zimmer from 3rd base to pitcher, with the right-hander recollecting, "one day at practice they had me throw a bullpen (session) and I threw in a couple intersquad games and I guess they saw somevpotential there and made the move permanent."
They were rewarded with two seasons where Zimmer was named 1st-team All-West Coast Conference, including his 2012 season where he finished 5-3 with a 2.85 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 88 1/3 innings. Baseball America rated him the college prospect with the best fastball entering the 2012 draft.
This impressed the Royals enough to take Zimmer with the 5th overall pick in June's draft. Zimmer didn't disappoint, making just 3 starts in the Rookie League with Surprise, going 1-0 with a .090 ERA in three starts with 13 strikeouts in just 10 innings. A promotion to low-A Kane County followed, and despite a 2-3 record Zimmer pitched to a 2.43 ERA and struck out 29 batters in 29 2/3 innings.
Zimmer will be on the Blue Rocks opening day roster along with outfielder Lane Adams, who returns to Wilmington after playing the 2nd half of last season with the Blue Crew.
Adams also graduated from high school in 2009, and was recruited to Missouri State after being named Oklahoma Small School Player of the Year at Red Oak High, as a basketball player.
Adams led the state in scoring (over 32 points per game) and free-throw percentage (93.7 percent) while winning the 2009 Oklahoma Class B State Championship. His 3,251 points ranks 5th all-time in Oklahoma history.
Lane said he was ready to continue to pursue basketball when the Royals stepped in and selected him in the 13th round of the 1999 MLB Draft, creating a tough decision for Adams.
After consulting with then-Missouri State basketball coach Cuonzo Martin, "I was very fortunate that Coach Martin... was very understandable, and told me this was a great experience and I should jump on the opportunity. He made the decision easier on me."
Instead of lacing up the sneakers with the Bears, Adams reported to Sunrise and stole 14 of 15 bases.
Adams steadily has worked his way up the Royals system, having his best season in 2012 earning Midwest League All-Star honors with a .298 batting average for Kane County in the 1st half before being promoted to Wilmington.
His debut with the Blue Rocks couldn't have gone better, hitting a home run in both halfs of a doubleheader on June 23. He finished with a .240 average, 6 home runs and 25 RBI.
While Adams says "I definitely still miss basketball" and Zimmer misses swinging the bats, both look to have promising futures with a Blue Rocks team that is confident of big things in 2013.
The Blue Rocks will play their home opener next Friday, April 12, at 7:05pm.
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