The Indians had a busy first night of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft as one of a handful of clubs with four selections between the first two rounds. By the time the evening had to a close, the Tribe picked up two college outfielders and a pair of high school pitchers.
The Indians used their first-round pick (21st overall) to select Bradley Zimmer, a junior center fielder from the University of San Francisco. Turns out baseball is family thing for the Zimmers, as Bradley’s older brother Kyle Zimmer – a right-handed pitcher - was the fifth overall pick in the 2012 draft by the Kansas City Royals and also attended USF.
“We both know that I could take him all day,” Bradley Zimmer joked during an interview on MLB Network shortly after being selected.
Later in a conference call, Zimmer discussed why being drafted by the Indians meant so much to him and his family.
“My parents are very excited to have the opportunity to watch us play (professionally) and watch us play against each other,” he said. “I have a feeling that day will come eventually and I think everyone’s looking forward to it.
Zimmer hit .368 with 10 doubles, seven triples, seven home runs and 31 RBI in 54 games this season. The 6-foot-5, 200-pounder also had 21 stolen bases, 31 walks and scored 42 runs and was the only collegiate player in the nation to place in the top 50 in stolen bases and slugging percentage.
“This is the moment I've been waiting for since the day I could say the word baseball,” Zimmer Tweeted.
With the Indians second pick at No. 31 (compensation for losing veteran pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez in free agency), they selected left-hander Justus Sheffield - a high school hurler from Tullahoma, Tenn.
Sheffield, 18, just wrapped up his prep senior season, going 10-0 with a 0.34 ERA (just three earned runs over 61 2/3 innings) with 131 strikeouts. Wednesday, the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder became the first high school athlete from Tennessee to win a Gatorade National Player of the Year Award. Sheffield’s selection gives the Tribe back-to-back Gatorade National Player of the Year award winners, having selected outfielder Clint Frazier in the first round last year.
With their first selection of the second round (No. 38th overall), the Indians picked up another outfielder in junior Michael Papi from the University of Virgina, which was in the midst of NCAA Super Regional play when he got the call that he’d been drafted.
Papi, 21, was batting .297 with nine doubles, 11 home runs, 51 RBI and 51 runs scored in 60 games for the Cavaliers. As a sophomore, Papi was the Atlantic Coast Conference 2013 batting champion with a league-leading .381 batting average and a .517 on-base percentage.
Finally, with the 61st overall selection in the second round, the Indians picked up California high school right-handed pitcher Grant Hockin. A grandson of Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew, Hockin, 18, went 9-3 with a 1.49 ERA this season for Damien High School. Hockin is currently committed to play at UCLA.