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Indians Baseball: A team that's accomplished some things.

Updated: 2018-03-19T12:57:37-04:00


Indians option Yandy Diaz, release Melvin Upton Jr. in latest spring training cuts



Good news for Giovany Urshela.

The Cleveland Indians have announced their latest spring training roster cuts, per’s Jordan Bastian. Most notably, third baseman Yandy Diaz was optioned to Triple-A and outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. was released. The roster has been trimmed to 39 as of these cuts.

Along with Diaz, catcher Eric Haase and shortstop Eric Stamets were optioned to the Triple-A Columbus Clippers. That pretty much leaves the backup infielder job to Giovanny Urshela or Erik Gonzalez, both of whom are out of options. Urshela has been arguably the Tribe’s best hitter this spring, going 20-for-41 with three home runs and three doubles. If this is a sign that his bat has finally come around (keep in mind these are spring training numbers), it’s a no-brainer to keep him on the roster. That’s a big if, though.

The Indians signed Upton Jr. to a minor league contract last December, but he’s struggled mightily in March as he attempts to return from an injury plagued 2017 season. He may eventually lost out to veteran Rajai Davis or even rookie Greg Allen. Both remain in major league camp, and both have the potential to be contributors for the Indians in 2018. Also, Tyler Naquin still exists.

Outfielder Brandon Barnes, right-handed pitcher Preston Claiborne, right-handed pitcher Stephen Fife, right-handed pitcher Cam Hill, right-handed pitcher Neil Ramirez, and infielder Richie Shaffer were also assigned to minor league camp. Catcher Ryan Hanigan was released as well.

The Best of the Rest: Which unranked Tribe prospects should we keep an eye on this year?


There are more than 20 players worth watching this year. With at least seven teams in its minor league system, the Cleveland Indians have over 200 players under contract heading into the 2018 season. So it’s a bit unfair to stop counting prospects at just the top 20. Let’s Go Tribe readers finished their voting last month, but here are some prospects who just missed the cut and deserve some recognition as well. Pitchers Shawn Morimando, 25, LHP Morimando is on the 40-man roster and if Ryan Merritt fails to make the club out of spring training, he’s likely the “next man up” if the team needs a spot starter for a double-header or in case of injury. Morimando has decent strikeout stuff, tosses in the low 90s and is capable of runs of dominance, as evidenced by his string of three shutouts in a four game stretch last season. Morimando finished 2017 with a 4.41 ERA in Triple-A Columbus, striking out 128 batters in 159.1 innings. Rob Kaminsky, 23, LHP Kaminsky, a former first round pick by the St. Louis Cardinals, was acquired by the Indians in the Brandon Moss trade. He tore through the lower levels of the minor league system but has stalled out with injuries. He has spent time on the disabled list all three seasons the Indians have had him, but worst of all was the fact that he only pitched five innings in 2017 before being shelved for the entire season after having forearm problems. There are significant question marks about Kaminsky’s health, but his talent his real, as evidenced by his incredibly strong second half run in 2016 to help lead Akron to a championship in Double-A. Matt Esparza, 23, RHP The top strikeout artist for the Indians minor league system in 2016, Matt Esparza began 2017 in High-A Lynchburg before being promoted to Akron, where he struggled. Esparza has decent velocity but his strikeouts dropped off a bit last season as he was promoted. He was strong in High-A before being promoted so I’m hoping he can make some adjustments in 2018 and get back on track. Sam Hentges, 21, LHP Hentges missed the second half of 2016 and almost all of 2017 with Tommy John surgery, but looked sharp in his return late last season. Granted, he never faced competition above Low-A in his return, but Hentges struck out 41 hitters in 30.2 innings. He is a high-ceiling arm and MLBPipeline is extremely high on him, ranking Hentges #17 in their top 30 prospect list. Brady Aiken, 21, LHP Let’s get this out of the way first, 2017 was not a good year for Aiken. He had a ridiculously high 1.78 WHIP thanks in part to talking 101 batters in 132 innings while only striking out 89. His ERA should have been even higher, but he managed to keep it at 4.77 for the season. His velocity is down and his command still needs significant work. The good news? In his first full season after returning from Tommy John surgery, Aiken didn’t miss a start. Health is the top priority, and hopefully he can find what it was that made him the top overall pick in the 2014 draft. Juan Hillman, 20, LHP Similar to Aiken, Hillman struggled mightily in 2017 for the Single-A Lake County Captains. Command wasn’t the problem for the 2015 second round draft pick, it was the fact that Hillman got hit hard. The southpaw gave up 22 home runs in 137.2 innings pitched and finished the season with a 6.08 ERA. On the bright side, similar to Aiken, he made it through his first full season without injury and did show flashes with an eight shutout inning performance on July 20. Zach Plesac, 23, RHP Plesac didn’t play when the Indians drafted him in 2016 due to needing Tommy John surgery, but just like Hentges, he looked dominant in his return last season. Plesac embarrassed hitters in Low-A Mahoning Valley to the tune of a 1.38 ERA in seven starts before being promoted and he was solid for Lake County as well, giving up 10 runs in six starts. Plesac will likely have his first full season for the Indians minor league system this year as the Tribe stretches him out a bit more and tests his surgically repaired arm, but th[...]

What Jose Altuve’s extension means for the Indians and Francisco Lindor


My dude’s gonna get paid. Last week, the Houston Astros agreed to pay World Series Champion second baseman Jose Altuve a whole bunch of money. According to multiple reports, the 27-year-old will be making $151 million over five years, which kicks in when his current contract ends after next season. Altuve is known as one of the game’s most consistent players, he occupies a premium position, and his glowing personality is infinitely marketable for the Astros. Sound familiar? The Cleveland Indians have a very similar situation with their own middle-infielder superstar Francisco Lindor. Like Altuve, Lindor entered the league at a young age. He went on to slash .313/.353/.482 as one of the league’s best defensive shortstops and amass a a 4.4 fWAR in his debut 2015 season. In Altuve’s breakout season, 2014, the second baseman slashed .341/.377/.453 which, combined with mediocre defense at second, netted him 5.1 fWAR. There’s a key difference between the two, though. Lindor’s breakout season was also his debut season, when he took the league by storm as a baby-faced 21-year-old rookie in 2015. Altuve, on the other hand, didn’t emerge as a superstar until after two and a half years of struggling at the major-league level; he was worth just 2.3 fWAR in three seasons prior to his big 2014 campaign. Despite his early struggles, the Astros showed faith in the young infielder, signing him to a four-year, $12.5 million deal with two team options that would double the contract through 2019. Needless to say, they picked up the 2018 option and they are going to pick up the one in 2019, too. The Astros were able to sign Altuve before he had all the leverage. He had potential in 2013, sure, but they were able to take a gamble with their initial deal and lock him up through the initial arbitration years. Now they have him locked up through the entirety of his prime years. The Indians never had that luxury with Lindor. Chris Antonetti and Mike Chernoff, formerly with the aid of Mark Shapiro, have a reputation for locking up young pitchers such as Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco before things get out of hand. They signed Kluber after his first Cy Young season, locking up through at least 2021 if they pick up all the options. That seems like an easy choice, but remember Kluber came out of absolutely nowhere to put up that 7.1-win season. Prior to that he wasn’t a top prospect, and he hadn’t shown a lot in the majors. Similarly, Carlos Carrasco was signed to an arbitration-dodging extension after just one full year of having a great FIP as a starter. Jose Ramirez, too, got a five-year, $26 million deal with team options after his breakout 2016 campaign. None of these players were ever top prospects, but the Indians made sure to lock them up them at the first sign of stardom. Francisco Lindor is new territory. Not only was he a top-flight prospect from the get-go, but he dominated the moment he put on his Indians jersey. If you are Lindor, do you possibly sign anything that takes away even a cent after the rookie half-season he had? I don’t. Based on information from an inside source who goes by the name “Mike Chernoff’s son, Brody,” the Indians were at one point working on a seven-year deal with the Lindor prior to last season. Since that day, we’ve heard nothing of extension talks between the two, despite my desperate pleas on Twitter for the Indians to sign him to a 75-year deal. I guess I shouldn’t say that, because a month after Brody broke the news, Lindor reportedly turned down a $100 million contract offer from the Indians. All Lindor has done since turning down a nine-digit salary is become a 30-home run hitter, continue to dominate at shortstop, and adopt a bitchin’ new hair style. It’s safe to say he didn’t cost himself any money by turning down a cool hundred million. Oh yeah, and he’s still three years younger than Jose Altuve. To summarize, Lindor is three years younger than Altuve, has basically the same track reco[...]

N&N: Napoli could start season in Columbus



Morning news and notes for Monday, March 19, 2018

Here’s to a great week!

Indians 11, Cubs 4

Indians 16, Mariners 3 Recap

27 runs in one day is good! Grand slams from catchers Eric Hasse and Yan Gomes highlighted a big offensive day for the Tribe, while Mike Clevinger struck out nine in just 4 and 13 innings.

Tribe News

Tito appreciative of Napoli’s professionalism |

Will Mike Napoli stay with the Indians? From Jordan Bastian:

Cleveland does not have a spot to offer on the big league roster, so the clock is ticking in terms of a decision about Napoli’s immediate future.

“We’re 10 days from breaking camp, and he doesn’t know what lies ahead for him,” Indians manager Terry Francona said before Sunday’s 11-4 win over the Cubs in Las Vegas. “This will be the first time in about 12 years. I think you’re thinking, ‘Am I done?’ I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I do know that, to me, he’s still Napoli. I’ve just tried to remind him of that a couple times.”

If no MLB opportunity presents itself, one possibility for Napoli -- in camp with the Tribe on a Minor League contract -- would be to consider starting the season with Triple-A Columbus. That would give the Indians some veteran depth behind Yonder Alonso and Edwin Encarnacion, and it would give Napoli the chance to continue to audition for other clubs, while serving as an example for Cleveland’s prospects to follow.

Talkin’ about Bradley Zimmer |

Mr. Terry Pluto with some thoughts on how best to use the young center fielder.

Around the League

The Brewers just earned themselves a few new fans . . .

As a fan of Pannone’s, I want to believe it truly was an error somewhere along the way. But in the event that he is desperately lying through his teeth to save his reputation, the Indians might have dodged a bullet by shipping him away for a half season of Joe Smith.