In the midst of a week of Tribe blasts from the past, starting with the ‘95 Tribe Reunion weekend, coupled with a Jason Kipnis reminiscent of his 2013 All-Star season and Chris Perez once again violating MLB’s drug use policy, the future is looking bright for the Cleveland Indians. No, I don’t mean the immediate future, but rather the organization down the line. Between the recent promotion of Francisco Lindor and the strong prospects in the Tribe’s farm system, the future of the Tribe looks a little brighter than their present state.
One of the most prominent moments this week that emphasizes the Tribe’s bright future is the naming of Bradley Zimmer to the MLB Future’s Game roster. Zimmer was a 2014 draft pick out of the University of San Francisco and signed with the Indians for PRICE. He spent his inaugural season with the Tribe as a member of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers before appearing with the Lake County Captains for only three games. He hit an overall .302 in 2014 with six home runs and 32 RBI in 48 total games. The Indians spent no time holding Zimmer back, as he started 2015 with the High-A Lynchburg Hillcats, where he is hitting .300 in 65 games with nine home runs. That the outfielder hasn’t been promoted to Akron yet is almost surprising, though the call can’t be far off.
Zimmer is the lone Indians representative on either the U.S. or World rosters for the Futures game, which will be played on July 12. Last year, Lindor represented the Tribe in the game.
If Lindor’s current status means anything, the Indians have a bright future with Zimmer.
Despite being the sole Indians representative in the game, Zimmer isn’t the only future hope for the Tribe. As stated, Kipnis is bouncing back from his struggling 2014 season in rare form. He is hitting .354 in 70 games, finally getting back to being the Kipnis fans loved in 2013. He’s drawing attention to the squad and is Sports Illustrated’s early favorite for the AL MVP.
To Kipnis’ right on the infield are two other players who will contribute to the Tribe’s future success. Lindor and Giovanny Urshela were both recently called up from Columbus to fill in gaps and struggles that the Indians faced on both offensive and defensive fronts. In 14 games, Urshela is hitting .250 with one home run, and has committed two errors at third. He replaced Lonnie Chisenhall at the position, who may very well be becoming a career AAA success who struggles when he hits the big leagues.
Lindor is also proving that he was big league ready with his performance since coming to Cleveland. He has had a few flubs, including tripping while rounding first after his first Major League hit, but has not been a disaster on the field by any means. He is hitting .243 in ten games and recently had his first big league home run.
The Indians need some fresh, new faces and talent on their roster to boost them into future playoff contention. It’s common knowledge that their current team, while at first glance looking like it may have the makings of a potential winner, is bogged down with large contracts of players who have been with the team for a while and haven’t been huge contributors (do I even need to flat-out say the names Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn?). Carlos Santana is looking more and more like a viable trade piece, and the Columbus Clippers have a few bullpen arms that could help out any struggling relievers.
If Tribe fans learned anything from Lindor, though, it’s the Indians will not rush a player through the system if they believe he isn’t ready to move up. There is talent on the horizon for the Tribe, and though there may be some waiting for it to arrive, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Photo: Charlie Neibergall/Cleveland.com