Owning four picks – No.’s 21, 31, 38, and 61 – on the draft’s first day, the Indians have the potential to add tremendous depth to a thinning crop of minor league prospects. And the franchise has seemingly done so with its first pick, San Francisco outfielder Bradley Zimmer.
Prior to the draft I rated the now-center-fielder as the eighth best collegiate prospect available, ahead of several players taken earlier including the Cubs’ selection of Kyle Schwarber at No. 4, Michael Conforto, who went to the Mets at #10, and Blue Jays backstop Max Pentecost.
As far as the individual analysis for Zimmer, I wrote: “Incredibly toolsy for a bigger player – solid-average to slightly better power, sneaky speed, average-ish eye at the plate, and good plate coverage considering his frame size. At his peak, Zimmer could be a more athletic version of Corey Hart — .290/.340/.510 with 25+ homerun and stolen base potential.”
Needless to say, the Tribe found a potential cornerstone outfielder.
With their second pick, the club grabbed high school left-hander Justus Sheffield. The first player to from Tennessee to win a national award from Gatorade has a commitment to Vanderbilt, where his older brother Jordan headed to after bypassing the Red Sox last season.
I’m not a scout, nor do I play one on the internet – there’s clearly enough of those running around – so I’ll default to MLB.com’s report of Sheffield: “Showing an exciting three-pitch mix, he can dial up the fastball into the mid 90s and he combines it with a changeup and breaking ball, both of which have the to above-average offerings.”
And with former Tribe ace Charlie Nagy making the announcement for their third pick, the club grabbed the highly, highly underrated Mike Papi, an absolute personal favorite of mine.
I ranked Papi as the fourth best prospect in college this season, writing: “Quite frankly, Papi’s a Nick Swisher clone – or at least pretty darn close to it. Not only do both players play the same positions, but consider the following comparison over their final two collegiate seasons:
I continued, “And while Swisher bests Papi in power and slightly in plate discipline, it’s worth noting that Papi has played against stiffer competition while using the new “deader” aluminum bats, the ones that act more like wooden bats.”
Finally, “Elite, elite eye at the plate. Solid-average power, something along the lines of maybe 20 homeruns in a season.” LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this pick.
With their final pick on Day 1 they grabbed right-hander Grant Hockin, grandson of Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew.