CLEVELAND -- A handful of jewels from within the Indians' farm system will be in camp with the big league club when the reigning American League champions report to Spring Training. Outfielder Bradley Zimmer, Cleveland's top prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, will be among them.On Friday, the Indians announced that Zimmer
CLEVELAND -- A handful of jewels from within the Indians' farm system will be in camp with the big league club when the reigning American League champions report to Spring Training. Outfielder Bradley Zimmer, Cleveland's top prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, will be among them.
On Friday, the Indians announced that Zimmer will be among eight internal non-roster players invited to attend Spring Training with the Tribe. Including Zimmer, the Indians will have 10 of their top-30 prospects in camp in Goodyear, Ariz.
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The other internal invitees who are on the Indians' top-30 list include corner infielder and outfielder Yandy Diaz (No. 10), outfielder Greg Allen (No. 19) and first baseman Nellie Rodriguez (No. 23). Right-hander Josh Martin, lefty Tyler Olson, infielder Ronny Rodriguez and infielder Eric Stamets were also invited to camp, giving the Indians 15 total non-roster invites at the moment.
Six players on the Indians' 40-man roster are currently among the club's top-30 prospects, too. That group includes catcher Francisco Mejia (No. 4), infielder Erik Gonzalez (No. 8), left-hander Shawn Morimando (No. 12), right-hander Adam Plutko (No. 13), righty Shawn Armstrong (No. 28) and lefty Ryan Merritt (No. 29).
This will mark the first big league camp for the 24-year-old Zimmer, who was selected with the 21st overall pick in the 2014 Draft. Last season, he posted a .250/.365/.425 slash line in 130 games between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus. Along the way, the outfielder collected 15 homers, 25 doubles, six triples, 38 steals, 62 RBIs and 76 runs.
During the Arizona Fall League, Zimmer batted .257/.421/.514 in 22 games for the Mesa Solar Sox, who won the league's championship. Zimmer led the AFL in runs (25), tied for first in walks (19) and tied for second in doubles (seven) and home runs (four). He also collected 16 RBIs and stole eight bases, earning a spot on the AFL's Top Prospects Team.
Zimmer appears ticketed for Triple-A to start the season, but he could push for a promotion this summer.
"There may be an opportunity for Bradley at some point," Chris Antonetti, the Indians' president of baseball operations, said recently. "The question is, 'Is he the best option for us, and does he take advantage of it?'"
Among Friday's non-roster invites, Diaz, 25, might have the best chance at vying for a job with the Indians. Coming off a strong Minor League season, Diaz has the ability to play third base and has been tested at all three outfield positions. Cleveland will take a close look at him this spring for a utility role.
Last season, Diaz posted a .318/.408/.446 slash line in 121 games between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus, and he was a member of the World roster for the All-Star Futures Game. He finished with nine homers, 22 doubles, four triples, 58 RBIs, 11 steals, 66 runs, 71 walks and 86 strikeouts. While playing for Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason, Diaz recorded a .371/.451/.510 slash line in 151 at-bats.
"To be determined," said Antonetti, when asked recently if Diaz was in the mix for a job this spring. "We think he has a chance to be a good everyday player. We have to balance what opportunity and role he'll have on the team, what our other alternatives are there and what's best for Yandy."
Allen was a part of the four-prospect package that would have been sent to the Brewers had catcher Jonathan Lucroy not vetoed a trade to the Indians before the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Instead, the 23-year-old Allen finished a breakout season in Cleveland's system and will be in camp with the Major League team for the first time.
In 129 games between Class A Advanced Lynchburg and Double-A Akron last season, Allen hit .295 with a .416 on-base percentage and an .830 OPS. The fleet-footed outfielder belted seven homers, 23 doubles, seven triples, 44 RBIs and nearly as many walks (77) as strikeouts (78). Allen stole 45 bases and ended the year with 119 runs.
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.