CLEVELAND, Ohio – This week we’re taking a look at the depth of organization for the Cleveland Indians at each location, starting with the launch of pitchers today.
Cleveland’s ability to develop young talent into unwavering and dependable starters has long been considered a strength of the franchise and is legendary in large league circles. Often times, when a player joins the club, their first reaction is to express excitement and anticipation to working with player development staff who have a long and proven track record.
Whether it’s designing guns and promoting them to minors or gaining talent through business for established veterans, baseball operations president Chris Antonetti, general manager Mike Chernoff and manager Terry Francona are lacking Never stall out on options.
During this week we will count the current top 10 starters, relievers, infielder, outfielder and catcher of the franchise, regardless of the status of the Major League or Minor League. Don’t be surprised if the prospects rise in front of more experienced players, expect some familiar faces on every list.
Listed below are the organization’s 10 best starter mugs, which are currently between 10 and 1.
10. Josh Wolf, RHP
Age: 20. Ht: 6-3. Weight: 170.
The Indians acquired Wolf earlier this month as part of a deal with Francisco Lindor along with Isaiah Greene. Wolf instantly made himself popular with Cleveland fans by cheering the Browns on in their playoffs against the Steelers on Twitter. On the field, Wolf was ranked as high as the Mets’ number 9 in 2019 with an ERA of 3.38 over five starts and 12 out of eight innings in the Gulf Coast League.
9. Adam Plutko, RHP
Age: 29. Ht: 6-3. Weight: 215.
It seems like the Indians are looking for a place for Plutko in the rotation or as a long-term helper. The 29-year-old veteran, the right-handed from California’s best season, was in 2019 when he started 20 games and kept the Indians competing for the playoffs until the last week of the season. Plutko doesn’t have overwhelming stuff, but he knows how to get batters out, and every now and then he can surprise with a flood of strikers. Whether he can navigate spring training and find a place on the opening list for 2021 remains to be seen.
8. Ethan Hankins, RHP
Age: 20. Ht: 6-6. Weight: 200.
Hankins is tall and powerful and works as a future front starter with a fastball from the upper 90s and good movement on his pitches. He spent 2020 developing his secondary arsenal at the team’s alternate training venue, but could see rapid advancement through the minors if he remains healthy.
7. Daniel Espino, RHP
Age: 20. Ht: 6-2. Weight: 205.
Cleveland’s top pick in the 2019 draft, it wasn’t long before Espino impressed in the Arizona Rookie League. The flame-throwing Righty made six appearances, hitting 16 and walking five in 13.2 innings. Espino gave up just seven hits and three earned runs, good for an ERA of 1.98 with a whip of 0.88. The Panamanian native spent the last season developing at the team’s alternative location in Eastlake.
6. Logan Allen, LHP
Age: 23.Ht: 6-3. Weight: 220.
Allen came from Trevor Diego to the Indians in 2019 in the trade with Trevor Bauer and has been used sparingly as a helper in the last two seasons. One thing Allen did for him is that the Indians haven’t even regularly featured a left-handed starter since Ryan Merritt in 2017.
5. Cal Quantrill, RHP
Age: 25. Ht: 6-3. Weight: 195.
Quantrill, which was taken over in trade with Mike Clevinger from San Diego, showed versatility as a spot starter and reliever in eight missions. Quantrill started against the White Sox on September 22nd and limited Chicago’s high-performance offense to one hit in four innings with four strokes. He is projecting as a starter and could be up for 4th or 5th place in Francona’s rotation this spring.
4. Triston McKenzie, RHP
Age: 23.Ht: 6-5. Weight: 165.
McKenzie was Cleveland’s surprise of the 2020 season. He made his debut in late August after missing the last two seasons with injuries and hitting strong numbers in just eight games (six starts) during the club’s wild card playoff run. McKenzie, once considered the organization’s best vantage point, scored 42 hits in just 33 1/3 innings and scored a 0.900 whip.
3. Aaron Civale, RHP
Age: 25. Ht: 6-2. Weight: 215.
Civale has four above average pitches and its command got even better from 2019 to 2020. Last year he threw 48% of his pitches into the strike zone and increased his strengthout percentage by nearly 2% to 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings. His sinker didn’t miss many bats and he lost some vertical movement on his curveball resulting in an increased percentage of hard hits and expected hits, but these are issues that can be fixed in spring training. He is currently the club’s # 3 starter after Carlos Carrasco’s trade with the Mets.
2. Zach Plesac, RHP
Age: 26.Ht: 6-3. Weight: 220.
After a strong rookie campaign in 2019, Plesac looked like it was on its way to a dominant 2020. Yet while the team was out in Chicago, a misjudgment cost Plesac nearly a month of the pandemic-shortened season. Even so, in eight starts, Plesac hit 9.3 batters per nine innings and went only 1.0. He posted a 2.28 ERA in 55 1/3 innings and had a scintillating 0.795 whip. The sporty Righty received a Gold Glove Award after the season.
1. Shane Bieber, RHP
Age: 25. Ht: 6-3. Weight: 200.
The 2020 American League Cy Young Award winner is the obvious first choice for this list. At just 25, Bieber is an All-Star MVP, Cy Young winner, and won the Pitching Triple Crown last year by leading all baseball in wins, strikeouts, and ERA. Ridiculous stats aside, Bieber has the qualities a team looks for in an ace, and with Lindor’s departure, he’s in a position to take on the role of Cleveland’s “face of the franchise” for the next few seasons.
Coming this week:
Monday: The top 10 starters in the Cleveland Indians organization right now.
Tuesday: The top 10 helpers.
Wednesday: The top 10 outfielder.
Thursday: The top 10 infielder.
Friday: The Top 5 Catchers / Top 5 Designated Hitters.
New Indian face masks for sale: Here, you can purchase Cleveland Indian-themed face covers for coronavirus protection, including a single mask ($ 14.99) and a 3-pack ($ 24.99). All MLB proceeds are donated to charity.
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