Bradley Zimmer was sitting on a couch at home in La Jolla, surrounded by family and friends, when he saw that the Cleveland Indians had selected him with the 21st overall pick in Thursday's Major League Baseball draft.
Within seconds, Zimmer was handed an Indians T-shirt and cap. There was a sense that he knew this was coming. Or did he?
"The shirt and the hat came from my aunt," Zimmer said. "She went and bought shirts and hats for the 30 teams, so that when my name was called, the right hat would be available. I didn't really have any expectations; I was just waiting for my name to be called. I couldn't be happier to be a part of the Indians' organization."
Zimmer, who starred for three seasons at USF, becomes the fourth Dons' first-round pick since '07. He is the first position player to be drafted in the first round in Nino Giarratano's 16 seasons as USF coach.
Giarratano considers Zimmer one of the finest players he's ever instructed and predicts that given his leadership, commitment to hard work and ability to maintain an even keel, he will enjoy a long career.
"At USF, I became the man I am now, which is a confident, physically and mentally strong baseball player that will do whatever it takes to execute my role and help my team win," Zimmer said.
Last summer, Zimmer played 21 games for the Team USA collegiate national team, hitting .300 and stealing a team-high 11 bases. When he returned to the Cape Cod league in late July, he helped the Cotuit Kettleers to a championship and received the Star of Stars Award, given to Most Valuable Player of the playoffs.
Zimmer was a consensus First-Team All-American heading into his junior season at USF. He started all 54 games in center field, after featuring in right for his first two years, and finished with a .368 batting average, seven home runs, 31 RBI and 21 stolen bases.
"I just did my thing, played my brand of baseball, and knew that the rest would take care of itself," Zimmer said. "I tried not to pay attention to any of the publicity and media stuff."
On draft night, the Indians were thrilled he was available with the 21st pick.
"We really didn't know until two selections beforehand that we'd be able to take [Zimmer]," said Brad Grant, the Indians' director of amateur scouting. "But he was a guy we'd targeted and spent a lot of time scouting. He has athleticism and a combination of tools that are really exciting. We wanted to take who we felt was the best player, and we feel like we did that with [Zimmer]."