Zimmer’s Power Could Surge Prospect through Tribe System

By definition, a prospect is someone with potential, yet some work to do before becoming a finished product.

It should come as no surprise then, Indians first round pick Bradley Zimmer is one of the team’s top prospects. Last June the Indians selected Zimmer 23rd overall in the First Year Player Draft. The three-year starter at the University of San Francisco follows in the footsteps of his older brother, Kyle, a prospect in the Kansas City Royals organization.

The Tribe’s Zimmer opens 2015 as the organization’s fourth ranked prospect. The 6-foot, 4-inch, left-handed hitting center fielder is a potential five-tool player. Before the draft, Perfect Game USA ranked him the sixth best college prospect while Baseball America ranked him eighth. If it’s possible, the Indians may have got a steal at the 23rd spot in the draft.

Zimmer has excellent gap-power, a fine eye at the plate and strong outfield arm. After signing for a $1.9 million signing bonus, Zimmer thrived a Short Season-A Mahoning Valley in 2014. In 45 games and 197 plate appearances, Zimmer had a .304/.401/.464 with 11 doubles, two triples and four home runs. His solid season in the New York-Penn League led him to a quick promotion at the end of the season. Zimmer hit two home runs in the final three regular season games at Low-A Lake County before helping the Captains with six hits in eight postseason games.

“I’m a really aggressive player, overall,” Zimmer said last summer. “I think you’ll see me taking bases when I can…like trying to stretch a single into a double. I’m pretty aggressive at the plate too—driving the ball into the gap. I just try to have fun and be loose out there.”

While Zimmer does possess the ability to be a five-tool player, it is his power that needs the most development. Scouts believe Zimmer has the potential to become a 20-home run hitter at the big league level, but an unorthodox swing may be one of the reasons behind his lack of power. Like many developing prospects, adjusting his swing to the professional game is one of the biggest changes he’ll have to continue to work on.

If Zimmer’s power develops, he has the necessary arm to become a big league right fielder. But if his power does not blossom in the next few minor league seasons, Zimmer may remain a center fielder—a position that usually does not require as much offensive prowess, instead trading range and speed.

“I just want to keep improving every day,” Zimmer said. “I try to stay with my approach and just go out and have fun. Ultimately, I just want to get better every single day.”

Entering his age-22 season, and having three years of collegiate play under his belt, Zimmer may very likely open at High-A Lynchburg in 2015. The Indians took a similar approach a few seasons ago with first round pick and college player, Tyler Naquin. If Zimmer does open at Lynchburg, he may have fellow 2014 first round pick, Mike Papi flanked to his side in right field. Papi also finished the season at Lake County.

Regardless of where Zimmer starts the season, his development and growth has potential to create a quick climb to the big leagues. Despite an organization with out field prospects like Papi, Naquin, James Ramsey, Carlos Moncrief and Bryson Myles, Zimmer could reach the big leagues in just a few seasons.

Photo: Lianna Holub/DTTWLN photographer

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