Zimmer brothers share their Draft day experiences

CLEVELAND -- A natural rivalry usually exists when it comes to brothers. The Indians threw some fuel on a familial fire on Thursday night, when the club nabbed collegiate outfielder Bradley Zimmer with its first pick in the first round of the First-Year Player Draft.

Cleveland used the Draft's 21st overall selection to pick Zimmer out of the University of San Francisco. Two years ago, Kansas City used the fifth overall pick on Zimmer's brother, Kyle, a right-handed pitcher working his way up the Royals' system.

If the Zimmer boys continue on their current paths, they could square off not just as brothers, but as division rivals. After being taken in the first round by the Tribe, the little brother flashed a wide grin and issued the first verbal jab in front of a national audience.

"We both know that I could take him all day," Zimmer said in an interview on MLB Network.

Asked for his thoughts on that potential clash, Brad Grant, the Indians' director of amateur scouting let out a laugh.

"I'd like to see that matchup," Grant said. "I think it'd be a really good matchup. Hopefully, Bradley can take him out of the yard."

The Indians have looked forward to Thursday for several months. With a wealth of picks on the first day of the Draft, Cleveland had a number of directions to explore within the first two rounds. With the 21st pick in the first round, the Indians kicked off their busy night by grabbing the 21-year-old Zimmer, who brings a unique blend of speed and power potential.

With his parents -- Eric and Cathy -- at his side, and a host of family and friends surrounding him, Zimmer donned an Indians cap after the room erupted in cheers at the call of his name. The hat was brought to the house by one of Zimmer's aunts, who purchased one for each of the clubs that had a pick in the first 30 spots.

"I haven't been very familiar with the Indians in the past," Zimmer said. "But I'm looking forward to diving in there and making an impact right away for them, and getting up to the big leagues and being an impact player for them, and bringing back a World Series to Cleveland."

What about the rest of the hats?

"Return them," Zimmer said with a laugh. "Those are in her hands."

The Indians also drafted high school pitchers Justus Sheffield (Tullahoma High School in Tennessee) and Grant Hockin (Damien High in California) with the 31st and 61st picks, respectively. In the Competitive Balance round, Cleveland used the 38th overall pick on Virginia outfielder Mike Papi.

The first-day flurry was much different than a year ago, when the Tribe took prep outfielder Clint Frazier with the fifth overall pick in the first round, but then did not pick again until the Draft's second day. This year's Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com pregame show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 1 p.m. ET.

"We didn't go in with a plan to try to balance out the four picks," Grant said of taking two position players and two pitchers. "It worked out that way and it's exciting that it did."

This past season, Zimmer was the only collegiate player to be ranked in the top 50 in both stolen bases (21) and slugging percentage (.573). In 54 games for San Francisco, the left-handed-hitting Zimmer hit .368 with seven home runs, 10 doubles, seven triples, 31 RBIs, 31 walks, 42 runs scored and 81 hits. He posted a .461 on-base percentage along the way.

The two-time All-West Coast Conference member was named a 2014 preseason All-American selection by Louisville Slugger, Baseball America and Perfect Game USA. Heading into the Draft, he was ranked 10th overall on MLB.com's Top 200 prospects list.

"It's the combination of tools that are really exciting with Bradley," Grant said. "It's a plus runner, a chance for a plus center fielder, plus arm and then just an advanced feel to hit. Despite the thin athletic frame, there's power in the bat as well. It's an exciting player that brings a lot of tools to the table."

After Zimmer was selected by the Indians, San Francisco head coach Nino Giarratano had the opportunity to chat briefly with Kyle Zimmer, who was on hand for his brother's big moment.

"Kyle said he was probably happier for Bradley than he was for himself two years ago in the Draft," Giarratano said. "It's got to be just a wonderful feeling to see your younger brother get an opportunity and have the same chance that you're going to have to play at the professional level. I can't imagine how excited the family is."

Bradley Zimmer -- a junior at USF -- was previously drafted by the Cubs in the 23rd round of the 2011 Draft, but he did not sign. Instead, Zimmer attended San Francisco, where his older brother also went to college. The boys have their parents to thank for their athletic ability. Their dad played baseball at UC San Diego and their mom ran track at San Diego State.

"I definitely got my speed from my mom," Zimmer said on MLB Network, "and got the power and the arm from my dad."

Kyle Zimmer was also gifted with a strong right arm which convinced Kansas City to Draft him in 2012.

The brothers have never faced one another in a game.

"Hopefully, in the near future I'll be squaring off against him on the big stage," Bradley Zimmer said. "I know that day will come eventually. I think everyone's looking forward to it."

Tribe selects RHP Hockin for final pick of Day 1

Draft Report: Grant Hockin, High School Pitcher

CLEVELAND -- The Indians were impressed with the advanced approach to pitching that Grant Hockin has displayed as a high schooler. Cleveland likes his fastball, feels his slider can be a real weapon and was impressed with what it saw in the right-hander's developing changeup.

That is all well and good, but there is also the fact that Hockin is a grandson of Hall of Fame slugger Harmon Killebrew. Maybe that played a role in Cleveland selecting the young pitcher with the 61st overall pick on Day 1 of the First-Year Player Draft on Thursday night.

"I did not," said a laughing Brad Grant, Cleveland's director of amateur scouting. "But, it's always good to have bloodlines, for sure."

2014 Draft Central

On a long and fruitful first day of the Draft, the Indians wrapped things up with the selection of Hockin, an 18-year-old right-hander out of Damien High School in California. Hockin joined left-hander Justus Sheffield (31st overall) as one of two prep pitchers selected by Cleveland within the club's four picks on the annual event's opening night.

The Indians began their part in the 2014 Draft by selecting University of San Francisco outfielder Bradley Zimmer with the 21st overall selection, marking the third straight year Cleveland has picked an outfielder first. The Tribe also grabbed Virginia outfielder Mike Papi with the 38th overall section, which fell in the Competive Balance round.

One year after having just one pick on the first day, Cleveland reeled in a balanced quartet of prospects.

"It wasn't anything that was intended," Grant said. "We didn't go in with a plan to try to balance out the four picks. It worked out that way and it's exciting that it did. To get the two advanced college bats, and then mix in the upside with the high school pitchers, that part of it is extremely exciting."

Hockin -- with his 6-foot-4, 195-pound frame -- offers a solid arsenal of pitches and a wiry build that has room to grow in the coming years. He possesses good movement on his changeup, has a fastball that tops out around 95 mph and will mix in a curveball and slider, as well.

Hockin went 9-3 with a 1.49 ERA during his senior season at Damien, striking out 99 across 80 innings.

"[Hockin] is an advanced high school feel-to-pitch pitcher," Grant said. "He brings a solid-average fastball up to 95 with good sink to it. He's got two different breaking balls, a curveball and a slider, with the slider probably being the better of the two. It's hard with depth. It's up to 83-84 and then there's a good feel for a changeup.

"I think with Grant, what really stands out is his feel [for pitching]. He can really locate his fastball. He changes speeds extremely well and has a really good feel for a right-handed pitcher."

Hockin is currently committed to play college baseball for the UCLA Bruins, but Grant did not sound worried about being able to sign the pitcher.

"When we take players," Grant said, "we do it based on that understanding of their willingness to sign."

Indians take Virginia OF Papi with 38th pick

Draft 2014: Indians draft OF Mike Papi No. 38

CLEVELAND -- The Indians have had success with drawing from the University of Virginia player pool in the past. On Thursday night, Cleveland used its third pick of the First-Year Player Draft on another Cavalier, outfielder Mike Papi.

In Competitive Balance Round A -- sandwiched between the first and second rounds -- the Indians used the 38th overall pick of the Draft on Papi, adding a hitter who strikes a balance between selectivity and power. It is Papi's keen eye at the plate and versatility in the field that caught Cleveland's attention.

2014 Draft Central

"He does have that advanced feel to hit,' said Brad Grant, the Indians' director of amateur scouting. "He is extremely patient at the plate. He doesn't expand the strike zone. He has a natural ability to hit the ball and he has the ability to move around the field.

"He can play left, he can play right, he can play first. He brings you a lot of versatility in terms of defense to his game. And, there's power that can develop."

Cleveland's selection of the 21-year-old Papi came within a busy day for the Indians, who boasted four picks on the first day of the First-Year Player Draft.

The Tribe's previous selections on Day 1 included University of San Francisco outfielder Bradley Zimmer (No. 21 overall) and high school left-hander Justus Sheffield (No. 31) out of Tennessee. Cleveland later took prep right-hander Grant Hockin out of Damien High School (Calif.) with the 61st overall pick to wrap up its evening.

A year ago, the Indians used a fourth-round selection on Virginia left-hander Kyle Crockett, who then soared though Cleveland's farm system. Earlier this season, Crockett reached the big leagues, becoming the first player from any organization taken in the 2013 Draft to reach the Majors.

No pressure, Papi.

Through 60 games for Virginia this season, Papi has posted a .297/.445/.498 slash line to go with 11 home runs, nine doubles, 51 RBIs and 51 runs scored. The lefty-swinging outfielder also had more walks (53) than strikeouts (43).

Papi was previously drafted in the 30th round of the 2011 Draft by the Angels, but he did not sign.

Grant said Cleveland will likely look to start Papi off in the outfield, but the organization will sit down with him to discuss the situation.

"Once we get Mike into the organization," Grant said, "we'll sit down with him and see where he's comfortable and see what he wants to do. But, we'll expose him to probably multiple different positions and probably start him off in the outfield."

Papi has plenty on his plate right now with Virgina, which is scheduled to face Maryland in a best-of-three super regional series, beginning Saturday.

After being drafted, Papi took to Twitter and posted this message: "Extremely blessed to be an [Indian] and a huge thank you to all my supporters. But we still have some [Virginia baseball] business to take care of."

Indians agree to terms with LHP Sheffield

Draft 2014: Indians draft LHP Justus Sheffield No. 31

CLEVELAND -- Justus Sheffield did not make the same decision his brother did a year ago, but their situations were decidedly different.

On Thursday night, the Indians used their second first-round pick in the First-Year Player Draft on Sheffield, a highly-touted high school lefty out of Tennessee. Sheffield had already committed to Vanderbilt University, where his brother, Jordan, redshirted this season after choosing not to sign with the Red Sox after last summer's Draft.

The brothers have discussed this moment numerous times and they chatted again after Cleveland drafted Justus out of Tullahoma High School. By the end of the night, Sheffield had agreed to terms with the Indians on a bonus of $1.6 million, according to MLB.com's Jim Callis.

"Jordan has talked to Justus I couldn't tell you how many times," said Travis Sheffield, the boys' father. "Jordan, we just got off the phone with him. He's excited."

Cleveland used its top first-round pick (No. 21) on University of San Francisco outfielder Bradley Zimmer, but the club addressed pitching 10 picks later. The Indians were awarded the 31st overall selection as compensation for Ubaldo Jimenez leaving via free agency. When Jimenez declined a qualifying offer from the Tribe, and then signed a long-term deal with Baltimore, the Indians earned the extra pick.

The Indians also selected Virginia outfielder Mike Papi (No. 38) and Damien High School (Calif.) righty Grant Hockin (No. 61) on Thursday.

The 18-year-old Sheffield was recently named the Gatorade National Player of the Year, becoming the first player from a Tennessee high school to take home that honor. Cleveland's top Draft pick last year, outfielder Clint Frazier, earned that away in 2013. Pitchers who have won the title in previous years include Zack Greinke (2002), Clayton Kershaw (2006) and Rick Porcello (2007).

"Looking at those names, it's like, 'Wow, how did I win this award?'" Sheffield told the Tennessean on Wednesday.

The Indians know the risk of selecting a prep player committed to a college, but taking such an athlete so high in the Draft tends to help convince them to sign. The 31st selection has a suggested signing-bonus value of $1.733 million, but Sheffield was willing to sign on the dotted line for slightly less. As part of the deal, Cleveland agreed to pay for eight semesters of education at Vanderbilt.

Sheffield might not have been taken by the Tribe if they thought he would not sign.

"With any of our picks in the first 10 rounds," said Brad Grant, Cleveland's director of amateur scouting, "it's extremely important under the new system to ensure that you're able to sign them, and that you can work towards an understanding. So, I think with any of the picks, obviously there's a lot that goes into it to ensure that they're interested in signing."

Last year, the Red Sox selected Jordan Sheffield in the 13th round of the Draft, but the pitcher was sidelined with an elbow injury. Under the circumstances, he opted not to sign and pursue a collegiate career with Vanderbilt.

Justus Sheffield was hardly facing the same situation.

"It was hard for Jordan just because he was injured," Justus told the Tennessean.

This past season, Sheffield spun a perfect 10-0 record for Tullahoma High, turning in a 0.34 ERA to go along with 131 strikeouts in 61 2/3 innings. As a batter, he also fared well, hitting at a .405 clip with three homers, 12 doubles and 16 RBIs.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Sheffield features a fastball that sits around 89-92 mph, but can top out around 94 mph. He also throws a power slider and changeup, giving him multiple weapons that will allow the Indians to give him a shot as a starting pitcher.

"Justus Sheffield is a very athletic left-handed pitcher," Grant said. "He's another guy with a really good track record. He played for Team USA, played in all the showcases over the summer."

Brad White, Sheffield's coach at Tullahoma High School, said Justus' height should not be viewed as a hindrance.

"If he's two inches taller, I think he's a guy being talked about at the very top of the Draft," White said. "You can't measure heart and you can't measure competitiveness and compassion. Justus is an 80 on all of those grades, and I think Cleveland is going to reap the benefits of taking him right there."

Travis Sheffield said their family kept the Indians in mind when Draft day arrived.

"The area scout, Chuck Bartlett, he talked to Justus about a week ago," Travis said. "The last words Chuck told Justus I believe were, 'I believe in you. You've got to believe in me.' That was it. It's surprising that it's the Indians, but it's not because, when it's those last words, we put them up on the radar."

It was a proud day for Justus' father.

"We've been on pins and needles all day long," Travis Sheffield said. "He's happy to be an Indian."