While the Cleveland Indians are playing in the World Series, their top prospect is holding his own against some of the brightest future stars of the game in the Arizona Fall League.
The Cleveland Indians and their fans are focused solely on the present moment right now, as the team attempts to finish off one of the most improbable postseason runs in Major League Baseball history. The Tribe needs just one more win to claim its first World Series championship since 1948.
But far away from Progressive Field, Cleveland’s future is also hard at work. I’m talking about the club’s No. 1 prospect, Bradley Zimmer, who is competing for the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League, and was just named to the league’s annual Fall Stars Game.
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Zimmer, the Indians’ first round pick in the 2014 MLB draft and the 25th-ranked prospect in all of baseball according to MLB Pipeline, will represent the AFL East alongside 15 other top 100 prospects. The game takes place Saturday night, November 6th, at 8:00 p.m. ET, and will be televised live on MLB Network.
Through the first dozen games of the AFL schedule, Zimmer is slashing .256/.442/.462, good for a .904 OPS that is seventh in the league. The center fielder has a league-leading five doubles, one home run, six runs batted in and seven stolen bases.
The knock on Zimmer thus far in his professional career has been his propensity for striking out, and that issue has persisted in the AFL. He’s struck out in 13 of 39 at-bats, but has also drawn 11 bases on balls. During the 2016 season between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus, his strikeout-to-walk ratio was 171-to-77, so it appears he’s making progress in a small sample size.
Fans waiting to see the former University of San Francisco standout at Progressive Field are likely to be kept waiting into the 2017 season. Barring any unforeseen developments, Zimmer will be manning the outfield grass at Huntington Park for the Clippers when next season gets underway, and should stay there into the summer.
Recognition as a participant in the Fall Stars Game is a good sign for Zimmer’s development, though. While he may require more minor league seasoning before making his big league debut, it’s clear that he is progressing and fine-tuning his game against stiff competition. It’s one more notch along the way to the majors, and should be encouraging for Tribe fans who have an eye toward the future.