About David Freier
He was the 8th overall pick of the Colorado Rockies in 2007 and joins three Cleveland first round picks on the High-A Lynchburg team in 2015. The time between has been filled with challenges, but Casey Weathers is determined to persevere in pursuit of his dream of playing in the majors.
Casey was not always a pitcher, having been an outfielder at Laguna Creek High School in Elk Grove, California, and then at Sacramento City College. It was in junior college that he was converted to the mound, featuring a 94 mph fastball. He transferred to Vanderbilt in for his junior and senior years, joining a team led by current major leaguers David Price and former Lynchburg Hillcat Pedro Alvarez.
Asked if he would go back to hitting if he couldn’t get his arm fully healthy, Weathers said, “Absolutely not! There is a reason they converted me to a pitcher really fast.” With only a slightly diminished grin, “I don’t think hitting was my calling, ever.”
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.
Hillcats outfielder Clint Frazier is a player to watch. You will never have any difficulty in picking him out on the field when you go to see him play. This is because he is one of a small number of baseball players to have red hair. At some point in the future it is likely that Frazier will join pitchers Charles “Red” Embree (1941 – 1947) and current ESPN baseball broadcaster Rick Sutcliffe (1982 – 1984) as red-headed Cleveland Indian major leaguers, based upon his pedigree as the 5th overall pick in 2013.
Traditional baseball scouting is based upon five tools, while noted prospect analyst John Sickels prefers to about seven tools. By either measure current Frazier is an up and coming player. He features power, speed, running skills and a plus arm and is one of three first round picks by the Indians to be featured in the High-A Lynchburg outfield.
A first glance at the 2015 High-A Lynchburg roster will pull your attention to the all outfield prospects, but don’t overlook the pitching. The pedigree of Adam Plutko may be amongst the most intriguing of all the pitchers in the Cleveland Indians farm system. Drafted in the 11th round following his junior year at UCLA in 2013, the third year professional from Upland, California now has 20 starts at the High-A level.
Plutko is a prospect on the rise, but this should be no surprise following his college career. The leader of a UCLA team that captured the Bruins first College World Series championship in 2013, that pinnacle was bracketed by his freshman experience. That season he was part of a Bruins’ staff that featured two current major league starters in Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole, and the Indians own Trevor Bauer as the team won the Pac-12 Conference. In Plutko’s sophomore year the team earned a birth in the College World Series and his junior year was capped by UCLA’s first national title on the diamond.
The Hillcat green and gold are set to take the field again for another season. For 2015 this marks the 20th season of the Hillcats moniker for a team in Lynchburg and the 75th anniversary of professional baseball in the hill city. On top of all these momentous milestones the Hillcats will be at the start of a new four-year affiliation as a farm club of the Cleveland Indians. With this new affiliation the hometown fans will kick off their connection to Cleveland with a team comprised of some of the best and brightest prospects the Indians farm system has to offer.
The coaching staff is headed up by second year manager, Mark Budzinski. He was once a Cleveland minor-leaguer himself and a product of the University of Richmond. Budzinski makes his home in Richmond, Virginia so this season provides added opportunities to see his family. As any devotee of professional baseball knows family time is precious as there can be long periods of absence when you are far from home and there the breaks in the season are few in number.