Mar. 11, 2017
The Zimmer Effect: When We Can Expect to See Bradley Zimmer
As you survey the Indians farm system, there are several young, really good prospects that catch your attention, but none of them capture your attention as much as Bradley Zimmer.
According to MLB's latest prospect rankings, Zimmer is the number one prospect in the Indians farm system at the moment. In addition, Baseball America along with FanGraphs rank Zimmer as the second best prospect behind only catching prospect, Francisco Mejia.
Zimmer, who just turned 24 years old this past November, was drafted in the 1st round of the 2014 Amateur Draft by the Cleveland Indians and has been tearing it up ever since. During his first full season in the minor leagues down in A Ball, Bradley Zimmer finished the season hitting: .302/.400/.492 with 54 hits, 6 home runs, 32 RBI, 21 walks, and 33 strikeouts.
His success carried over into 2015 as well as last season as he finished both years with 246 hits, 31 home runs, 125 RBI, 132 walks, and 302 strikeouts in 941 at bats. Granted, his strikeout rate was high during both seasons, but he finished the 2015 season with a .814 OPS and last season with a .790 OPS.
The power is obviously there with Zimmer and it will only continue to get better as he matures with time and gets comfortable with big league pitching. That is one reason why the Indians currently have him in the big league camp and hope that he continues to learn, while getting the opportunity to see big league pitchers in action and get as many at bats as possible before Spring Training concludes.
When you look at Cleveland's outfield on paper, it is crowded and there is virtually no room to fit Zimmer in. After all, the Indians have Michael Brantley over in leftfield through the conclusion of this season, Tyler Naquin locking things down in centerfield for the foreseeable future through 2023, and Lonnie Chisenhall over in rightfield through 2019 with Brandon Guyer serving at the Indian's fourth outfielder through at least the end of next season.
Therefore, when can we expect to see Bradley Zimmer at the big league level and, better yet, how does he fit into the Indians outfield equation sooner than later?
Up to this point in his career, Zimmer has played a majority of his innings in centerfield, but does also have over 200 innings over in rightfield. Obviously, he is not going to fit right into either of those positions in the near future with both Naquin and Chisenhall locking both spots up.
However, there is the possibility that Bradley Zimmer gets called up to play sometime this coming season especially if the Indians lose, Michael Brantley, due to an injury like they did last year. Brantley has yet to appear in a Spring Training game so far this year, but has been taking batting practice with the team which is a good sign. If the Indians lose Brantley, then look for Zimmer to be a leading candidate for the spot.
The only drawback to that situation is that neither Tyler Naquin or Lonnie Chisenhall have experience playing over in leftfield.
Of course, there is always the possibility of a trade occurring which could include any of the outfielders really. Of the four, Tyler Naquin, likely has the best chance of staying since he is under control for the foreseeable future, but the Indians might view Bradley Zimmer the same way. If you remember, the Indians included, Bradley Zimmer, in the trade package last summer at the trade deadline for then Brewers catcher, Jonathan Lucroy, before that deal fell through.
Therefore, it is not crystal clear when we can expect to see Bradley Zimmer at the big league level or how he fits into the Indians equation, but for now Indians fans can rejoice as they have a top level prospect, knocking on the door, waiting to play an everyday position. Whether he will get that chance in 2017 has yet to be seen, but if he ends up staying in Triple-A the entire season with the Indians, then there will be a lot of excitement among Tribe fans heading into the 2018 regular season assuming he is still with the organization at that point.