CLEVELAND -- Brad Zimmer and Clint Frazier got a taste of playing alongside one another last season. The ultimate goal for both the players and the Indians is for the highly-touted prospects to someday share the outfield at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
Zimmer and Frazier were in the same outfield at Class A Advanced Lynchburg for much of last summer before the former was promoted to Double-A Akron. On Friday, the pair of young outfielders were also right next to each other on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list for the 2016 season. Zimmer (No. 26), Frazier (No. 27) and first baseman Bobby Bradley (No. 93) all made the cut.
"It's great to be able to pair two guys like that," Carter Hawkins, the Indians' director of player development, said of Zimmer and Frazier's time together with Lynchburg. "Brad, in a lot of ways, was able to give perspective to Clint, and I'm sure Clint was able to give a little bit to Brad as well. To have two guys pushing each other over the course of a full season ... that only helps to make them a little bit better."
The annual ranking of baseball's Top 100 Prospects is assembled by MLBPipeline.com Draft and prospect experts Jonathan Mayo, Jim Callis and Mike Rosenbaum, who compile input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, proximity to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. Only players with rookie status entering the 2016 season are eligible for the list. The rankings follow the guidelines laid out by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, in terms of who falls under the international pool money rules: Players who were at least 23 years old when they signed and played in leagues deemed to be professional (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Cuba) are not eligible.
Zimmer and Frazier were the Indians' first-round picks in the MLB Draft in 2014 and 2013, respectively. The 23-year-old Zimmer boasts an all-around skillset that makes him look like an athletic center fielder for Cleveland's future. Frazier, 21, is similarly skilled, but offers the kind of power that could potentially have a home in the heart of a lineup.
Last season, Zimmer turned in a .273/.368/.446 slash line to go along with 16 home runs, 26 doubles, four triples, 63 RBIs and 84 runs scored in 127 games between Lynchburg and Akron. Along the way, Zimmer stole 44 bases and drew 55 walks, while striking out 131 times. Zimmer dealt with a right foot injury late in the season, but is expected to be fine come Spring Training.
Frazier hit .285/.377/.465 with 16 homers, 36 doubles, three triples and 72 RBIs in 133 games at Lynchburg last season. The outfielder also stole 15 bases, scored 88 runs, struck out 125 times and drew 68 walks. Frazier is a little behind Zimmer in terms of age, but both are rising steadily through Cleveland's farm system.
"Playing with Zimmer is an awesome experience," Frazier said at the Indians' fall development program in September. "He's what I want to be. In three years, I want to be as polished as he is. I want to be able to steal bases like he does, cover the outfield like he does. He's an awesome role model for me to be around."
With a wealth of outfielders vying for Major League jobs this spring, though, the Indians opted against extending non-roster invitations to Zimmer and Frazier.
"Both of those guys had really great years last year, made a ton of progress," Indians general manager Mike Chernoff said. "You kind of always strike this balance of, when you have guys in camp, making sure there's enough opportunity for them. So, if those are two guys that are not looking like they're going to make the Major League team out of Spring Training, it's less important to have them as part of that unit in camp.
"I think you've seen [Indians manager Terry Francona] use his young players all the time in games, so I expect we'll see a lot of those guys in Spring Training. We've seen them in the past, and they'll have their chances."
Bradley, who was picked by the Indians in the third round of the 2014 MLB Draft, hit .264/.357/.518 in 110 games between Class A Lake County and Class A Advanced Lynchburg last season. In 108 games with Lake County, the left-handed-swinging slugger had 27 home runs, 92 RBIs and a .529 slugging percentage, which each ranked first among Class A batters.
"Our goal is to have him be an elite Major Leaguer," Hawkins said. "He's definitely not a guy that's going to slip under the radar at this point. So, understanding the approach that pitchers are going to have against him and how he needs to react to that, at-bat to at-bat, game to game, week to week, will be something that will help him to take that next step in his career."