Approaching Majors, Zimmer eyes family matchup

Indians' top prospect could soon face older brother Kyle, a Royals prospect

Approaching Majors, Zimmer eyes family matchup

CLEVELAND -- Brad and Kyle Zimmer have talked about it plenty of times. Someday, and perhaps not too far off in the future, the brothers might get to face each other in the Majors. Brad is a fast-rising outfield prospect in the Indians' system, while Kyle is working his way up the Royals' organizational ladder.

If the stars align just right -- with Brad forcing Cleveland's hand and Kyle having a strong comeback from surgery last summer to address thoracic outlet syndrome -- the brothers could clash as American League Central rivals at some point in 2017. It might be more likely that the Zimmer boys will realize their childhood dream in '18. No matter when that moment arrives, Brad has an idea of how his older brother will pitch him.

"I think he'll come after me," Brad Zimmer said with a smile during MLB's Rookie Career Development Program earlier this month. "I would hope he would. He talks a lot about it."

Top Prospects: Zimmer, KC

For now, Brad Zimmer is focused on the more-important goal: reaching The Show.

As things stand, Zimmer appears ticketed back to Triple-A Columbus to start the 2017 campaign. Cleveland's No. 1 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com, ended last season with the Clippers and saw his strikeout rate climb above its usual level. That will surely be an area of focus for Zimmer during Spring Training, as he will likely be in camp with the Indians as one of the team's internal non-roster invitees.

Cleveland's outfield currently projects to include Lonnie Chisenhall, Brandon Guyer, Tyler Naquin, Abraham Almonte and Michael Brantley. There are still questions about Brantley's status, considering he is still working his way back from August surgery on his right biceps. A year ago, the Tribe's depleted depth opened the door for Naquin to make the Opening Day roster. This spring, Zimmer wants to make an impression, too.

Zimmer said his Arizona Fall League experience this offseason helped.

"I think any additional games, practice, is huge moving forward," Zimmer said. "Especially for me, because it keeps me that much more ready for this upcoming spring and making an impact on the big league squad, hopefully, this upcoming spring, and winning a job for the upcoming season."

Last season, the 24-year-old Zimmer -- selected with the 21st pick in the first round of the 2014 Draft -- posted a .250/.365/.425 slash line in 130 games between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus. Along the way, the outfielder had 15 homers, 25 doubles, six triples, 38 steals, 62 RBIs and 76 runs scored. Zimmer had an .842 OPS in 93 games at Double-A, compared to a .654 OPS in 37 games at Triple-A.

During the Fall League season, Zimmer hit .257/.421/.514 in 22 games for the Mesa Solar Sox, who won the league's championship. Zimmer led the AFL in runs (25), was tied for first in walks (19), and tied for second in doubles (seven) and home runs (four). He also collected 16 RBIs, stole eight bases and earned a spot on the Fall League's Top Prospects Team.

"I think I've always been kind of a speed guy," Zimmer said. "That's kind of my calling card right now. I think the power, and the consistency with power, is coming. That's something that I'm really working towards. But, I think speed's probably been the main thing for me from the time I signed up until this point."

Zimmer was asked which Major League pitcher he'd most like to face once he reaches Cleveland.

"I feel like Chris Sale would be a good battle," Zimmer said. "It probably wouldn't be a fun at-bat, but it'd be a challenge. I'd like to face him."

And, of course, Brad hopes to someday face his brother, Kyle.

"That's something I've been really looking forward to," Brad Zimmer said. "I think he has, too, as well, along with my family -- my mom and my dad. It'll definitely be a special moment. I think we're both looking forward to it. We're both really competitive guys. It'll be fun."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.