Zimmer Makes Quick Impression on Carolina League
David Freier | On 06, May 2015
By each and every measure Bradley Zimmer is emerging as an elite prospect. His standard five-tool talent is obvious to those who watch him play, but he stays humble and remains focused on developing his talent in the High-A Lynchburg Hillcats outfield he shares with fellow first round picks Clint Frazier and Mike Papi.
Power – Leads the Carolina League with 4 homeruns.
Speed -Twelve bags, good for second in the Carolina League.
Average – A robust .318 as the season nears the end of its third week.
Fielding /arm strength – He has yet to make an error this season, has two assists, one each in right and center fields and his speed and focus make difficult plays look routine.
In the traditional counting stats he has totaled 14 runs batted in and fifteen runs scored, both in hailing distance of the league leaders. Even with his early success, Zimmer continues to work on his hitting as he pursues his dream of reaching the Major Leagues.
In the short time of his professional career he has a hitting performance [or in more recent parlance, slash line] of .405/.500/.905 (OBP/SLG/OPS) with 29 of 81 hits for extra bases.
“Just kind of sticking with what’s been working the past year or so. What I worked on in Spring Training, and kind of carried over to begin the season.” says Zimmer.
Cleveland’s first round pick (21st overall) in 2014 out of the University of San Francisco, Zimmer also has the notable distinction of being in rather select company. Since the inception of the draft in 1965 he makes only the third set of brothers to have been selected in the first round of the First Year Player Draft.
The first was the Drew brothers, J.D., Stephen, and Tim Drew (Cleveland’s top pick in 1997). This was followed by the Upton brothers Melvin Jr. (B.J.) and Justin.
Kyle Zimmer, his older brother, was selected by the Kansas City Royals 5th overall in 2012.
“It was pretty special for myself and my family.” said Zimmer. “Getting to share that with him and my parents and looking forward to facing him in a couple of years.”
What makes this pair even more unique is that Kyle is a pitcher, while Bradley, of course, is a hitter. This sets up the future potential matchup of brother facing brother, when critical games for the American League Central Division could be on the line.
Bradley looks forward to his first opportunity to face Kyle in professional competition.
“First pitch fastball along the inner half of the plate, maybe brush me back a little bit.” he says about the first time squaring off in the batter’s box against his brother. “He’s a competitor and I’m sure it will be a battle, so I’m looking forward to it.”
The two had the opportunity to play together at the University of San Francisco in 2012 and both are now connected to teams that play in the American League Central. Though his family and pedigree provide an interesting background, it is his on field performance that is making opposing teams take note.
At 6’4”, 185 pounds, he has a lanky, quiet confidence when he digs in to the left-handed batters box. As the current Carolina League leader in homeruns, opposing pitchers have been offering him fewer chances to put runs on the board.
This third homerun for 2015, and the third in three home games, this was the kind that makes everyone sit up and take notice. In a slugfest against the division rival Potomac Nationals, where the final score was 15 – 8 in favor of the P-Nat’s, Zimmer came to bat for the fourth time in the bottom of the 7th inning. His previous three trips to the plate had produced only a sacrifice fly to left field.
This at bat would produce memorable results. Facing Jake Johansen, the Nationals 2013 2nd round pick from Dallas Baptist, Zimmer jumped on his early offering and launched a shot that went over the flagpole that rises 50 ft. above the batters eye and stands beyond the wall at the 390 ft. mark in center at Calvin Falwell Field.
“Looking for pitches out over the plate, something you can drive.” says Zimmer about bringing his power into play. “If your timing is right and the pitcher makes a mistake, you capitalize on it.”
In this instance he more than capitalized, crushing a ball that would have been a four bagger in any park.
His feats earned him player of the week honors in the Carolina League, and have clearly been noticed by the rest of the league as he has just a single homerun since that prodigious shot.
As the Carolina League fans watch this emerging star, Zimmer remains humble and hardworking.
“I love the game of baseball or I wouldn’t be here. I watch a lot of baseball,” he grins as he talks about fitting into the Indians system and their approach to development, “and got the opportunity to mix in with the big league team quite a bit in Spring Training. Talk to some of the veterans and watch how they work.”
As Bradley Zimmer continues his tour of the Carolina League it might not be that far into the future when he is the veteran and his natural style of play in centerfield, confidence at the plate, and gregarious nature will serve as an example for newly minted Cleveland Indian draftees.