A quarter of the 2017 MLB season has come and gone and the feeling in Northeastern Ohio is optimistic yet concerning. The Cleveland Indians opened 2017 as the overwhelming favorites to win the American League's central division and even the league's pennant itself. Entering Tuesday, the tribe were a modest 23-20, only a game back of the soaring Twins.
There is no sign of panic in tribe town, but the injury bug has struck early and it brings with it a series of interesting questions. Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco are on the right path with their injuries, but the knocks to both Brandon Guyer, Austin Jackson and Abraham Almonte have opened the door for highly-touted center field prospect Bradley Zimmer. Zimmer was the Indians first round selection in the 2014 MLB draft and since his selection has been scorching the minor leagues. Bradley brings a unique build to the table, especially as a center fielder. Standing at 6 feet 5 inches, his best quality is his bat as he is a great power and contact bat. Zimmer has appeared in just six games so far since the call up and is the owner of a .313 average with 2 XBH's and a HR in just 16 at-bats.
The question is not whether Zimmer can produce for the Cleveland Indians, it is a matter of timing. Is it too early to make him the everyday center fielder? Abe Almonte is on track to return in 3-4 weeks which gives Zimmer plenty of time to impress. Once both Guyer and Jackson recover from their injuries, we should see a platoon in the right and center outfield positions, with Zimmer and Chisenhall facing right handed pitching and the aforementioned outfielders facing the southpaws.
Depth is not an issue for this year's Indians side, as there are serviceable options in all positions going forward. As time passes by and the Indians continue to get healthy it will be interesting to see which role Bradley Zimmer will fall in to. Regardless of whether Zimmer remains on the roster throughout the summer, we should see the young star on the team in September when the rosters increase by 15 members.
All Center Field options include: Bradley Zimmer, Lonnie Chisenhall, Austin Jackson, Abraham Almonte, Tyler Naquin, Daniel Robertson, Brandon Guyer (only if absolutely necessary)