A stint with Team USA and a Cape Cod League championship last summer have helped prepare Mahoning Valley's Bradley Zimmer for the next step in his career, following a successful run at the University of San Francisco.
The 21st overall pick by the Indians this past June, he's looking to build off those experiences as he explores his potential at the professional level.
"It was really helpful and an unbelievable experience to be a part of … playing with the best players in the country [on Team USA] and getting to travel and get more of a professional feel," said Zimmer. "That was definitely a step in the right direction and kind of prepared me for what I'm going through right now."
Also aiding his preparation for that next step is his brother Kyle, a highly touted pitcher in the Royals system and MLB.com's No. 20 prospect overall.
Although Bradley is a center fielder, the two never had the opportunity to face each other growing up as Kyle converted to pitching in college. Of course, he's still capable of dispensing plenty of advice to his little brother, despite the fact that he's yet to pitch this season due to injury.
"Just have fun with it and enjoy the process," said Bradley of the wisdom Kyle has imparted to him. "It's something that not a lot of guys get to experience, so don't take it for granted. Enjoy it and build off it."
So far, the Scrappers outfielder has been seeing results, hitting .296 in his first 22 games on the strength of a recent four-game hitting streak in which he drove in eight runs and collected seven hits.
"It's been fun so far," said Zimmer. "I'm starting to play every day, getting used to the feel of being a professional ballplayer -- having fun with it and looking forward to the upcoming games."
He also got an early taste of what life might be like in the big leagues as the Scrappers faced off against the Lowell Spinners at Fenway Park on July 13.
Customary of all visitors to the hallowed Boston landmark, Zimmer took aim at the Green Monster in left field, banging a run-scoring double off the wall in the top of the ninth to help Mahoning Valley secure a 6-1 victory.
"It was awesome," said Zimmer. "You hear the unbelievable names that have come through there and done such great things, so it was pretty cool to be out on that stage.
"The Green Monster has a lot of history as well, so getting to put one off there was pretty cool. It's very close once you're out there."
Something else that may be close for Zimmer is a future big stage showdown with big brother Kyle.
"It's something I'm holding in the back of my mind," Zimmer said. "We've joked about it here and there, picking each other's brain. I think we're both looking forward to the day when we square off against each other."
Of course, there are many steps that both Zimmer brothers need to take before Bradley steps into the box versus Kyle, but with a foot in the door, the younger brother is bearing down on that opportunity with experience on his side.
Valley of hits: Tri-City infielder Nick Tanielu is batting .384 over his last 18 games after hitting just .219 in his first 10 as a pro. The Astros' 14th-round selection in June has 10 multi-hit games over that span, adding 20 RBIs and 11 runs scored. On Wednesday night he extended his hitting streak to 10 games.
Lowell's saving grace: The league's saves leader, Lowell's Carlos Pinales, has picked up seven saves in his last eight outings. The Spinners righty has saved all but seven of the team's 17 victories.
Top of the heap: Only five teams in the league have records over .500, all of which have 20 or more wins. All three division leaders have at least a seven-game lead on their competition as Hudson Valley boasts a league-best 28-10 record, while State College and Tri-City sit at 27-12.