Cleveland Indians 2016 Top Prospects: #2 Bradley Zimmer

Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Cleveland Indians 2016 Top Prospects: #2 Bradley Zimmer

One of the all-around best prospects in the system, outfielder Bradley Zimmer comes in at Number 2 on our 2016 Cleveland Indians Top Prospect countdown.

Who is Bradley Zimmer?

Zimmer joined the Indians when they made him their first-round pick in the 2014 draft (21st overall).  He was drafted out of the University of San Francisco and signed for $1,900,000 (about $100,000 under slot). The 23-year-old stands 6’4” and weighs just 185 pounds. He swings from the left-side and has played both center field and right field as a professional. He split 2015 between Advanced-A Lynchburg and Double-A Akron. He was slated to play in the Arizona Fall League but an injury nixed those plans.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Zimmer is a five-tool prospect. He can hit, run, throw, and field. He has some power and can hit for average.  He went to the Tribe’s Short-Season Mahoning Valley club as soon as he signed and even saw Class-A Lake County for a short while before the season ended. Overall he hit .302 with an .892 OPS, six home runs, and 12 stolen bases in just 48 games. He followed that up by hitting .308 with an .896 OPS at Advanced-A Lynchburg last season on his way to making the Carolina League All-Star team

More from Away Back Gone

He was then promoted to Double-A Akron where his numbers fell off (.687 OPS) but were still above average, including a 102 wRC+ (weighted runs created). It was later revealed that Zimmer was playing with a broken foot, which kept him from playing in the Arizona Fall League after the season and likely played a part in his second half struggles.

Defensively Zimmer bounced between center field and right field while with the Hillcats. He split duties with fellow prospect Frazier.  Zimmer definitely has shown enough to think he could stick in center field long-term. He uses that long frame of his to cover some ground in centerfield and has an arm that plays well there. The good news is, even if he were to have to move to left field (his arm isn’t the greatest), his bat should play fine there (think Michael Brantley).

There are few outfield prospects that scouts will rave about more than Zimmer. He may not have the highest ceiling, but his floor appears higher than most. Few will project him to be anything worse than at least an average big leaguer at this point. He has the potential to be a 20 home run-20 stolen base threat at the next level. There’s a reason that Zimmer has been pretty much a unanimous top prospect in the Tribe system this year while continuing to rank among the best in all of baseball.

Zimmer coming in at “only” number two may be a shocker to some, and he was strongly considered for the top spot here as well. However, I’m a bit less optimistic than some on his ability to stick in center field long term and think his ceiling isn’t the highest in the system.  He’s still a hell of a prospect, and it’s amazing that he fell to the Tribe at 21 in the 2014 draft. What a steal that is proving to be!

Where Does He Go From Here?

If not for the foot injury there was a legit chance that Zimmer would have opened 2016 with the Triple-A Columbus Clippers. He was flying through the Tribe’s system and not much seemed capable of slowing him down (except for injury it appears). He’ll instead head back to Double-A Akron to open the season, but if one plans on seeing him play there, I’d recommend going early in the season as I imagine with a hot start he could be in Columbus before you know it.  There’s no denying that Zimmer is viewed as someone that could help the big league club in the near future as well. I’d say 2016 may be a tad optimistic but it’s not a crazy idea.

Next: Indians Top Prospects: #3 Brady Aiken

Even if he’s not ready until sometime early in 2017, look for Zimmer to give guys like Tyler Naquin and Lonnie Chisenhall a run for their money. Both guys will need to step it up if they want to hold onto their starting roles in Cleveland.  Zimmer may not have the defense of those two but his bat is well beyond. I wouldn’t put Zimmer at the level of Francisco Lindor, but the excitement level isn’t that far behind. Make no mistake, Zimmer is a stud prospect and he won’t be in the minor leagues for much longer…