Indians prospect Zimmer makes the most of his first Cactus League game

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Bradley Zimmer took advantage of his first exposure to the Indians’ coaching staff.

Zimmer, who was the 21st overall selection in last year’s draft, had an RBI triple in his first Cactus League at-bat as the Indians defeated the Reds 9-3 on Thursday at Goodyear Ballpark.

With a "B" game earlier in the day, the Indians brought up some of the younger minor-league prospects so that they could get some playing time in the latter innings.

"That was a fun organizational day. We swung the bats well enough where the guys that started got their third at-bat fairly quick," Terry Francona said. "And we got these kids all some exposure to a game. I thought they handled themselves great."

Zimmer said he found out on Wednesday that he was going to be in the game. He replaced Mike Aviles in center field in the fifth. In his first at-bat in the sixth, he drew a walk and would later score on a sacrifice fly by James Roberts.

In the seventh, Zimmer took advantage of a favorable pitch count (2-1) and laced a triple to right-center, scoring Taylor Murphy. In his final at-bat, Zimmer was hit by a pitch in the ninth.

Said Zimmer of the triple: "The guy (Jose Mijares) fooled me before on a changeup and left one up in the zone and I pounded it."

Zimmer said that he wasn’t nervous playing in front of Francona and the coaching staff and that it was a great experience being in the same dugout as some of the other major-league players. Zimmer spent most of last season with Mahoning Valley and could start this year with either Lake County or Lynchburg.

Third-round pick Bobby Bradley and Yu-Cheng Chang also got into the game. Bradley was the MVP of the Arizona Rookie League and Chang was third in the Arizona League in hitting last year.

"It’s going to be fun to see what he looks like in another year and a half to two years. He’s a lanky kid. You know there’s going to be some more muscle put on there," Francona said.

STARTING OFF: Trevor Bauer went three innings and allowed an unearned run on three hits. Bauer went with four pitches — two-seam, four-seam, splitter and curve — but said he was mostly trying to work on the two-seam and split.

"It was nice to be in a game situation again. With live batting practice or a bullpen session the adrenaline is not quite there," Bauer said. "You never know how things are going to turn out when the adrenaline is there and the defense is behind you. It is good to have that feeling again and it went well."

Francona said he thought Bauer handled the three innings well and was efficient in the strike zone.

OTHER PITCHERS OF NOTE: Bruce Chen, who is one of the contenders for the final spot in the rotation, retired all six batters he faced and struck out the side in the fourth. He got Devin Mesoraco swinging while Jay Bruce and Bryan Pena were called out on strikes. Non-roster invitee Anthony Swarzak made a good first impression as he struck out the side in the seventh. Phillip Ervin, Luis Gonzalez and Jimmy Pickens struck out swinging.

GREAT DAY FOR GOMES: Yan Gomes threw out his second baserunner of the spring as Jason Bourgeois got caught stealing second after he led off the third with a single. In the fifth, he had a two-run homer to left-center on a 0-1 pitch off Burke Badenhop.

OTHER OFFENSIVE STANDOUTS: Jose Ramirez’s two-run single ignited a five-run fifth that put the Indians in the lead. David Murphy went 2-for-3 with a run scored.

UP NEXT: The Indians get to face someone other than the Reds. The defending AL champion Royals visit Goodyear Ballpark on Friday as Danny Salazar gets the start for the Tribe.