Just a half-game back of the Twins in the AL Central, the Indians on Tuesday decided the time was right to promote their No. 2 prospect, Bradley Zimmer, to the major leagues. Zimmer, the Indians’ first-round pick in 2014 out of San Francisco, had been on fire early this season in his return to Triple-A Columbus and was hitting .294/.371/.532 with five home runs at the time of his promotion. Cleveland has been playing Lonnie Chisenhall in center field, so Zimmer’s addition gives them more suitable option in the outfield as well.
At his best, Zimmer offers the classic mix of power and speed that teams covet. At the beginning of last year, however, he had some holes he had to work to close. The Indians helped him adjust his bat path to both keep the barrel in the zone longer and give himself a better chance at inside pitches. He also had big-time trouble against lefthanders, which seems to have been alleviated some this year, albeit in a small sample size. Against southpaws this season, the 24-year-old Zimmer is hitting .323/.389/.581 in 31 at-bats with a longball.
The team also says he’s done a better job this year at paying attention to details, understanding game situations and sticking to a daily preparation routine. Zimmer is a true center fielder with the speed and arm strength to stick at the position over the long haul. At his best, he could be a 20-20 player, albeit with a fairly high amount of strikeouts as well.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Terry Francona is likely to slot Zimmer into center field immediately and move Chisenhall back into a corner, where he is more comfortable, and shift Abraham Almonte back to the bench. If he produces as the Indians expect, Zimmer will have an impact for your fantasy team in the power and speed categories and on both sides of the ball in the real world.