With the 21st overall pick of the 2014 MLB Draft, the Cleveland Indians selected University of San Francisco star Bradley Zimmer. Although originally drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 2011 as the 699th overall pick, Zimmer opted to stay in school and keep developing. This turned out to be a great decision on Zimmer’s part as the 21 year old, left-handed hitter from La Jolla, California was selected as a preseason All-American in 2014 just before his junior year in college. He finished the year at USF with a .368 batting average and 7 homeruns in 220 at-bats. Zimmer’s quickness on the base paths allowed him to also add 21 stolen bases to his list of accomplishments.
These statistics put him in the conversation as a midseason hopeful for the Golden Spike’s award, an annual award created by USA Baseball for the best amateur baseball player in the United States. In the end, Zimmer fell short of the award. However, last summer Zimmer won the play-off MVP honors in the Cape Cod league with the Cotuit Kettleers and batted a solid .300 with the U.S. collegiate national team. His achievements were noticed as he entered the summer as the No. 14 top prospect by Baseball America.
Zimmer is currently playing with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, a single-A affiliate of the Tribe. As reported by James Ingraham of The News-Herald & The Morning Journal, Cleveland’s scouting director Brad Grant claimed, “He’s got a good combination of athleticism, speed, ability to hit, defense, and power.” At the plate, Zimmer has a soft stride when he swings which hampers his power somewhat, but if he can develop more pop at the plate to compliment his strong throwing arm in the field, Zimmer could find himself as a likely candidate for right field as he moves up the minor league ladder.
Bradley has typically been a lead-off hitter for most of his young career, but he is currently sitting third in the lineup with the Scrappers. He is an intelligent hitter and will continue to progress, but he also has a tendency to strikeout a few more times than one would like. While watching some of Zimmer’s strikeouts, his long swing through the hitting-zone is noticeable and his eyes tend to trail off towards first base rather than staying in on the ball. On the other hand, when he makes good contact with the ball, he keeps a short compact swing and watches the ball all the way into the hitting-zone. The inconsistency will need to improve. Mike Rosenbaum, a lead writer for MLB Prospects with the Bleacher Report, likes Zimmer’s ability to work deep counts, and this skill helps in a couple ways. It puts more mileage on an opposing pitcher’s arm and this allows his fellow teammates to get a better look at a hurler’s arsenal of pitches. When he is on base, he has the ability to get inside a pitcher’s head because of his speed, long legs, and keen awareness of his surroundings. Baseball is a strategic game and every bit of leverage can be the difference between a win or a loss.
In last night’s game against the Jamestown Jammers (Pittsburgh Pirates) Zimmer went 0-4, however he still leads the Scrappers with a .303 AVG, a .399 OBP, and an .866 OPS. Zimmer is in the top five on the team with 50 hits, 32 runs, 11 doubles, 4 homeruns, 30 RBIs, and 77 total bases.
The Mahoning Valley Scrappers face off against the Auburn Doubledays (Washington Nationals) for the final two home games tonight and tomorrow followed by the season finale against the Jammers on Sunday and Monday.
The Indians are hopeful Zimmer will take his game to the next level. He already has the intelligence to rise above the competition. Bradley’s father played collegiate ball at the University of California, San Diego, and his brother Kyle was the fourth overall pick, by Kansas City, in the 2012 Draft. If Bradley can harness his raw talent and couple it with his profound knowledge of the game, he has the potential to be a strong asset to the Cleveland Indians down the road.