Player: Bradley Zimmer
Drafted by: Cleveland Indians
DOB: 11/27/1992 (Age: 21)
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 205 pounds
School: San Francisco
Previously Drafted: 23rd round, 2011 (Cubs)
Outfielder Bradley Zimmer is expected to be selected in the first round this year, two years after his brother Kyle, a right-hander pitcher and former teammate at San Francisco, went No. 5 overall to the Kansas City Royals.
The Cubs drafted Bradley out of high school in the 23rd round of the 2011 draft, but he chose to honor his scholarship and join his brother at San Francisco. He enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2013 after struggling the previous year as a true freshman, as he batted .320/.437/.512 with 22 extra-base hits (seven home runs) and 19 stolen bases in 58 games.
Zimmer’s stellar sophomore campaign earned him a spot in the Cape Cod League and also one on the Team USA collegiate national team last summer. He batted .281 in 22 games for the Cotuit Kettleers on the Cape, though his season was split into two parts due to his time with Team USA. Speaking of Team USA, he impressed on that circuit as well, batting .300 with one home and 11 RBI.
The 21-year-old has continued to make strides this spring, hitting for more average and demonstrating a better feel for the strike zone. However, despite his early-season power surge, Zimmer’s over-the-fence pop hasn’t emerged as expected. That being said, he’s still leading the Dons in triples, home runs and slugging percentage.
He won’t come off the board as early as Kyle did, but this year’s draft should still produce another first-rounder for the Zimmer family.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.
Left-handed, 6'5" hitter has an upright stance and sets up with his hands at face level above his back shoulder—he reminds me a bit of Christian Yelich; smooth, quiet swing with line drive-oriented bat path through the hitting zone; his swing is long at times but doesn’t prevent him from consistently getting the barrel to a solid contact point; can handle secondary pitches as well as any college hitter in the class; demonstrates present feel for using the whole field.
Served as San Francisco’s leadoff hitter this season thanks to his advanced approach and plate discipline; understands the strike zone and how it relates to his strengths/weaknesses as a hitter; excellent pitch recognition allows him to work deep counts and should result in steady on-base rates as a pro.
Power is Zimmer’s down tool (below average) headed into the draft, but his frame and lower-half strength suggest plenty of untapped potential; shows plus raw power in games to his pull side; might improve power by adding a modified leg kick and/or deep hand load—basically something that will create a more pronounced weight transfer; more likely to be a source of doubles and triples thanks to line-to-line approach; will need to develop at least average power to hold down a corner spot in the major leagues.
Zimmer’s above-average speed gives him impact potential on both sides of the ball, though he may lose a step as he adds strength and develops physically; aggressive base stealer who could amass roughly 20 steals over a full season; his jumps and feel for reading pitchers will require refinement in minor leagues; long strides allow him to cover a ton of ground, which may help him stay in center field as a professional.
Plus, accurate arm is more than enough for center field and would support a move to either corner spot; gets good carry on throws.
Zimmer’s highest ceiling is as a center fielder, where he’s played during his career for the Dons; consistently gets good jumps thanks to a strong first step and great instincts; combination of above-average speed and long, gliding strides translates to above-average range; mixed opinions as to whether or not he can remain in center field long term.
MLB Player Comparison: Paul O’Neill
The popular comparison for Zimmer is former outfielder Paul O’Neill; both guys are tall and lanky left-handed hitters with excellent bat-to-ball skills and an overall feel for hitting. The team that ultimately drafts Zimmer will have to believe he’ll develop similar power.
Projection: First-division corner outfielder
Major Leagues ETA: Mid-2016
Chances of Signing: 95 percent
Zimmer is a safe bet to come off the board in the first half of Round 1, as he’s long been considered one of the top college players in this year’s class. However, his specific draft slot will come down to whether or not a team believes he can stick in center field.