Jim Callis

Tribe's Zimmer flaunts terrific tools in Fall League win

Tribe's Zimmer flaunts terrific tools in Fall League win

MESA, Ariz. -- Cleveland's top prospect Bradley Zimmer has some of the best all-around tools in the Arizona Fall League, and several of them were on display Friday afternoon. The Indians outfielder led the Mesa Solar Sox to a 4-3 victory over the Scottsdale Scorpions, opening the scoring with a first-inning homer and ending it with the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth.

The 21st overall pick in the 2014 Draft, Zimmer has the approach, bat speed and leverage to hit for average and power. He also runs well, which gives him 20-20 potential and allows him to cover ground in center field, and he has a better arm than most at his position. His presence in the organization made it easier for Cleveland to part with 2013 first-round outfielder Clint Frazier in the Andrew Miller trade with the Yankees in July.


A little more than two years into his pro career, the 23-year-old Zimmer still has some rough edges to smooth out. He struck out 171 times during the regular season, the 11th-highest total in the Minors. He batted a combined .250/.365/.425 with 15 homers, 38 steals and 77 walks in 130 games between Double-A and Triple-A, and he can make a greater impact if he can make more consistent contact.

"I've been happy with how it's going so far here," Zimmer said. "I've been working on my patience at the plate and I think I've been doing pretty well. I'm seeing the ball well and I haven't been missing pitches to hit when I've gotten them."

Zimmer certainly didn't miss a 91-mph fastball from right-hander Grayson Long (Angels) in the first inning, pulling it well over the fence in right-center at Sloan Park. He leads the AFL with nine walks and drew two more against the Scorpions, parlaying both into runs.

Zimmer drew a free pass, stole second base -- he also tops the AFL with six swipes -- and scored on a Brian Anderson (Marlins) double in the fourth inning. He laid off a steady diet of breaking balls low and away from left-hander David Roseboom (Mets) to coax another walk in the bottom of the ninth, went to second on an errant pickoff throw and scored the game-winner when third baseman Miguel Andujar (Yankees) couldn't cleanly field a grounder off the bat of Yu-Cheng Chang (Indians) with two out and the bases loaded.

After playing a career-high 130 games during the summer, Zimmer admits that fatigue can set in at times during the AFL. But he still relishes the opportunity to hone his skills and his bat hasn't looked tired at all. He's batting .300/.533/.600 through seven games, albeit with eight strikeouts in 30 plate appearances.

"The work I'm putting in here is going to translate right into spring training," Zimmer said. "I'm really looking forward to working on things and getting better. You can improve in every aspect of this game. There's no ceiling in my mind. I'm pretty hard on myself, and every day there's something I feel I can do."

The hardest part of the Arizona Fall League for Zimmer may be that he hasn't been able to follow the Indians' run to the World Series as closely as he would like. Because the Solar Sox often have played at the same time as Cleveland's postseason contests, he's had to rely on trainers to provide him with in-game updates.

"It's awesome what they're doing," Zimmer said. "I've played with a handful of them and gotten to know some of the big leagues. It's been pretty cool watching them when I can."

Jim Callis is a reporter for Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.