Outfielder Bradley Zimmer has not yet gotten an opportunity to show his skills on the baseball field beyond the minor league level, but with nearly a dozen teammates playing in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, he has been given an extended chance to prove himself against Major League competition.
Like with most young players, there have been ebbs and flows, but Zimmer has impressed Indians manager Terry Francona during spring-training practices and games.
“You don’t take 30 spring-training at-bats and describe a guy’s career. I think the season will do that, but when he has had a chance to play, he has been impressive, and it’s fun to watch,” Francona said. “He can hit the ball out of the ballpark to all fields.
“His speed is really good. His outfield play is improving, and with the tools he has, that’s going to probably get even better. He had a tough time last year against left-handers. (Sunday) he didn’t have a good day, but there have been some really some good at-bats this spring.”
Over 14 games this spring, Zimmer has collected 11 hits in 34 at-bats with three doubles and two home runs, eight runs driven in and 10 runs scored. In addition to his .344 batting average, .400 on-base percentage and .625 slugging percentage, Zimmer has drawn a pair of walks.
Francona credits that productivity to Zimmer’s increased work with hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo and assistant hitting coach Matt Quatraro.
“I think they’re really comfortable with where he’s at,” Francona said. “Now, it’s go perfect it, and at-bats do that, but it’s been fun to watch. He’s not on the roster. I’m glad he’s been in camp. I think it’s been good for him, and we’ve enjoyed it too.”
Since being selected by the Indians with the 21st overall pick in the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft out of the University of San Francisco, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Zimmer has 300 hits in 1,120 at-bats with 196 runs scored and another 157 driven in with 63 doubles, 12 triples and 37 home runs in three seasons in Cleveland’s farm system.
After concluding the 2016 season with the Akron RubberDucks (Double-A) and Columbus Clippers (Triple-A), Zimmer participated in the Arizona Fall League with the Mesa Solar Sox.
Francona has seen Zimmer make “a little bit” of an adjustment in his approach at the plate.
“His stride’s a little bit closer than it was,” Francona said. “He was a little bit more spread out, and now, he’s made a few more this spring, smaller things with Ty, but he looks comfortable in the box. I think with young hitters, because they’re still trying to figure out who they are, as they progress up the ladder and see better pitching, they start to understand sometimes.
“There needs to be adjustments, but you don’t want guys changing every week. You want them to find a place where they can do the things you want, and then, they are able to repeat it.”
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