21. Bradley Zimmer, OF
Bradley Zimmer, the younger brother of Kyle, a fifth overall selection by the Kansas City Royals in 2012, was selected by the Indians as the 21st overall pick in the 2014 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft.
Zimmer had a very good 2014 season for the University of San Francisco, ending with a solid .368 average and seven homers. He was the only collegiate player in the top 50 in in both SB (21) & SLG (.573). He has five-tool potential similar to Clint Frazier who was drafted fifth overall by the Tribe in 2013. Zimmer is slightly above average across the board with a few tools that could be plus. Like Frazier, he has tremendous speed for a player his size. Certainly it would rank above-average but could easily be plus. That speed will be enough to allow him to compete with Frazier for center field at the next level. He also has an above-average to plus arm that could allow him to play either right or center. He should be an above-average defender in either spot.
Zimmer certainly has the SLG numbers to play a corner spot in the outfield. He shows a great approach at the plate as he drew 29 walks to 31 strikeouts during his sophomore year and was hit by a pitch a whopping 16 times, proving he’ll do whatever it takes to get on base.
It is interesting to note that the Indians have selected two center fielders in the first round the last two years. Keep in mind that they signed Michael Brantley to a long-term contract this season. By the Indians drafting athletic center fielders, they will be able to move them around all three outfield spots until one finds a niche. From a defensive perspective, it is nice having three toolsy/speedy outfielders to track down fly balls all season.
31. Justus Sheffield, LHP Tullahoma HS- Tullahoma, Tennessee
No relation to Gary Sheffield, Justus is a prep LHP from the great state of Tennessee. Although it is very difficult to project high school stats, he earned a 10-0 record, 0.34 ERA, 131 strikeouts in 61.2 innings. He also batted .405 with 16 RBI his senior year.
His fastball sits around 89-92 with good natural sinking action. According to Baseball America, he does not have good command of it yet but could learn how to throw a two-seam fastball to compliment his natural sinking action. With a very compact delivery, he projects to be a starter at the next level but could be a closer candidate with a refined fastball to go along with his sharp curve ball. He is a great athlete and has good strength to go along with a good mix of his fastball and curve that are very advanced for a high school arm. Sheffield is a polished prep arm that doesn’t appear to be as much of a gamble as some of the high round prep arms in the last few drafts.
In an unprecedented move, the Indians drafted and signed Sheffield on the same night. He joined the Indians for a $1.6M signing bonus as well as payment for four years of education at Vanderbilt. This was slightly under his slot value of $1.77M.
38. Mike Papi OF, University of Virginia
Papi put up good numbers for Virginia this past season. While Papi doesn’t have big power potential, he keeps his hands in well and has quality hip rotation and he can turn on fastballs. He’s also shown an improved feel for hitting and extension to hit the ball the other way. This trait is easy to replicate at the next level with the use of wooden bats. He has excellent plate discipline, and doesn’t swing and pitches outside of the strike zone.
Papi currently plays right field for the Cavaliers and he has a strong throwing arm, but more than likely he’ll have to move to first base as he’s not a great athlete with limited speed and initial quickness. Jeff Ellis of Indians Baseball Insider compared him to Nick Swisher although I believe Papi could hit for more power.
61. Grant Hockin RHP, Damien (CA) High School
A very good high school prep pitcher who could be the closest player to being Major League ready the Indians drafted on Thursday evening.
Hockin “…has a nice frame with a fastball that sits around 87-90 (91) mph and shows solid command with the a little ability to work it and change eye levels. He also has a plus changeup to go along with a big 12-6 curve ball which projects well at the next level.