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posted: 7/30/2012 10:33 PM

No. 5 overall draft pick creates 'buzz' for Kane County Cougars

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  • Kyle Zimmer created some buzz with his first start for the Kane County Cougars last week.

    Kyle Zimmer created some buzz with his first start for the Kane County Cougars last week.
    Photo Courtesy of the Kane County Cougars

By Chad Thornburg

Kane County Cougars general manager Curtis Haug said nearly triple the typical number of scouts turned out to see last Thursday's game against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

And it was no coincidence.

Haug said the additional scouting presence -- which included former Bulls general manager Jerry Krause, who declined an interview -- was in Geneva to watch pitcher Kyle Zimmer make his first start for the Cougars.

Zimmer, the No. 5 overall selection by the Kansas City Royals in June's MLB draft, is the highest draft pick to play for Kane County since Adrian Gonzales in 2001.

"They're all curious," Haug said. "They all want to see a top pick like Kyle."

Zimmer (0-1) allowed 1 earned run and 5 hits and struck out five batters through 4 innings in the Cougars 4-0 loss to the Timber Rattlers.

With 4 professional starts under his belt -- 3 with the Royals' rookie team in Arizona and 1 with the Cougars -- the 6-foot-3, 215 pound right-hander has yet to give up a walk.

"I thought I did all right," Zimmer said after his first start for the Cougars. "I rushed a few pitches a little bit too much, but stuff felt good. It felt good to get that first one out of the way."

Zimmer played three seasons at the University of San Francisco before signing with the Royals in June. After traveling from Arizona to Geneva just a few days before taking the mound Thursday, Zimmer said he's glad to have the opportunity to settle into the Cougars' rotation.

"It's always nice to sort of get in a routine and be able to know what you're doing day by day to prepare for the next start," he said. "I think it will be helpful."

Zimmer's next start is scheduled for Tuesday night in Beloit, Wis., against the Snappers.

Despite being a high-profile acquisition, the California-native said he's focused on just fitting in with his teammates.

"I just feel the same as everybody else in here," he said. "I'm just trying to be part of the team, make pitches and give everybody a chance to win."

But as much as Zimmer wants to fit in, there's no denying the excitement around the new Cougars pitcher.

"We're happy that the Royals sent him here," Haug said. "It's a nice thing for the fans to get to see and experience a top pick like that. We're very excited about it."

Haug said he noticed a "buzz" around the ballpark for Zimmer's first start.

"Maybe even sold some tickets because of it," he said. "It's not often you get to see a kid like this pitch."

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