Indians top pick from 2014 moving fast
The Cleveland Indians top pick last season, Bradley Zimmer, is the organizations only player that was named to either roster (U.S. or World) for the minor-league exhibition of top talent. Even more impressive is that of the six outfielders selected for the U.S. squad, he’s the only one yet to reach Double-A.
Zimmer was the 21st overall pick in last year’s draft. After starting in Low-A, he moved up to Class A Lake County, then began this season with High-A Lynchburg. He’s hit nine home runs and collected 27 RBIs while posting a slash line of .300/.399/.488 in 65 games at High-A Lynchburg this season. He has also swiped 28 bases in 32 attempts.
At 22-years-old, Zimmer is more experienced with his time at the University of San Francisco. Players with college experience tend to progress through the system faster, and Zimmer is no exception. In just over a year, he’s moved from Low-A to High-A ball, and continues to torch pitching there. He’s hit at every level, and now is beginning to show more power as well as good speed and instincts on the bases.
With good speed and an above-average arm, Zimmer could fill any of the outfield spots, as well as be a designated hitter. Some believe he could be the heir apparent to Michael Bourn‘s spot in center, and it is possible. Some scouts do wonder if he’s a better fit at a corner spot even with his time in center field.
So could we see Zimmer in Cleveland soon? His progression through the system leads me to believe it’s possible. But one key to why I think we could see him soon–as early as this September–is because of the Chicago Cubs.
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The Cubs have made news in recent years with the development of their farm system. Putting pitching secondary, they’ve acquired what they believed were the best hitters in each draft. Two years ago it was Kris Bryant, who is now their starting third baseman, Rookie of the Year candidate and possible All-Star. Last year’s top pick was Kyle Schwarber, who has sped through the system like Bryant did–and similar to what Zimmer is doing in Cleveland–even being called up for a week to DH and did very well batting .364 with a home run and six RBIs in six games.
The relevance here? The Cubs drafted Zimmer out of high school in 2011, but he chose to honor his scholarship to San Francisco. The Cubs have their critics with their history, but GM Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein have made good moves drafting hitters. So if it was good for them, it’s good for the Indians.
There has been a sudden shift in philosophy this year, not just with the Indians, but prospects in general. Many teams were sitting on them, preaching that they needed more work, to refine their tools. Suddenly in recent weeks, many of the top prospects have gotten the call–Francisco Lindor and Giovanny Urshela included.
So will the Indians consider a call-up of Zimmer? It’s hard to say. The thinking of promotions seems to shift from contractual issues to development, to simply “let’s do this now”. Much of it will fall on where the Indians are come September. If they can fight their way back into the race like last year? If Zimmer can help, I think they need to make the call.