Observations on the Cleveland Indians 2020 Spring Training 2.0 Roster Pool
Sunday the Cleveland Indians along with the other teams in Major League Baseball were required to submit their first “working” roster of the shortened 2020 season.
The 60-game slate is schedule to start at the end of July, while spring training 2.0 for the Tribe and other clubs will start as soon as this weekend after a July 1st reporting date.
The Tribe can add up to five more players to the roster to get it to 60, but once at 60 the team cannot replace players on the roster because of injury or illness
Also optioned players are technically still on optional assignment but can be recalled at any point and time.
With that, here are some observations from the release of the Indians roster Sunday afternoon.
** Top Prospects All Over the Place
While just about all of them will be training at Eastlake’s Classic Field (home of the Indians single-A team the Lake County Captains), there’s going to be a much younger look to the roster due to a lot of top prospects the team wants to take a look at.
Included in the list are a pair of former first-round picks, pitcher Triston McKenzie (2015), and catcher Bo Naylor (2018).
2016 second-round pick infielder Nolan Jones also will be watched closely in Eastlake, and Indians fans are excited to see outfielder George Valera, who was brought to the team from the Dominican Republic back in 2017 as an International free agent.
With so many questions about who is going to be on this roster in the next 1-3 years, seeing these young players and how they perform is going to be fun to watch over the couple months of baseball this summer.
** Plenty of Arms
The Indians are bringing 20 pitchers to the big league camp at Progressive Field, with an emphasis on finding out how Terry Francona and the coaching staff is going to work the bullpen in 2020.
With the new rule in place that a reliever has to pitch to three batters, as well as with less amount of games placing a lot more importance on each and every game, it will be interesting to see how Francona manages this group.
As of now the starting rotation still appears to be: Mike Clevinger, Shane Bieber, Carlos Carrasco, Zach Plesac and Aaron Civale.
Beiber was named the opening day starter March 6 due to the spring training knee surgery suffered by Clevinger, but the Indians ace should be healthy and ready to be the team’s number one come opening day.
Adam Plutko, Jefry Rodriguez and Scott Moss are three more starters that will get looks in a role to provide depth in the month of July.
As for the pen arms, it’s mostly the names that fans already know, as Brad Hand, Adam Cimber, Oliver Perez and Nick Wittgren all will be with the big league club.
A couple of names to get to know include Dominic Leone, Cam Hill, James Hoyt, Phil Maton, Hunter Wood, and fireballer James Karinchak.
One name not on the list and that Tribe fans won’t see this year is reliever Emmanuel Clase, who was suspended 80 games by the league for PED’s.
** Infield Depth
Three players will fight it out in Cleveland for a chance to get playing time when an infield regular needs a day off, they include Yu Chang, Christian Arroyo, and Mike Freeman.
Arroyo is an interesting player who the Indians have had their eyes on for some time, but injuries have kept him from having much of a resume at the Major League level with San Francisco and Tampa Bay, playing in just 70 games in three seasons.
Freeman appeared in 75 games a season ago, hitting .277 with four homers and 24 runs batted in, and he’s steady in the infield with the ability to play second, short and third.
Chang had just 73 trips to the plate in 2019, and hit just .173 with one homer and six runs batted in, striking out 22 times.
The Indians need their regular starters in the infield to stay healthy, as the foursome of Carlos Santana, Cesar Hernandez, Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez are truly the core of this team and how far they will go on offense.
** Take Your Pick in the Outfield
The Indians have 10 outfielders coming to Cleveland to fight it out for the chance to get playing time, and as written over the weekend right now it’s a unit that has plenty of options.
One would think that Franmil Reyes will get plenty of looks in right, Oscar Mercado should see a starting role in either center or left, which leaves a couple players, newly acquired Delino DeShields and Jordan Luplow (15 homers in 2019) to try and get playing time in the last open spot.
Reyes’ story this offseason has been well documented, as he lost close to 20 pounds to be able to get quicker to be able to be better in the outfield.
Mercado had a solid rookie season, hitting .269 with 15 homers and 64 runs batted in last season playing in 115 games.
DeShields is another player the Indians have liked for some time, and he came to the team in the deal that sent Corey Kluber to the Texas Rangers, and will get a chance to play center should he be able to hit enough.
Luplow is the wild card of the bunch, as against lefties he’s solid, hitting .320 last season with 14 of his 15 homers and 30 of his 38 RBI coming against southpaws.
Against righties it was another story, as he hit just .216 with one homer and eight RBI in 97 at-bats.
If he can start to come around against righties, it gives the Tribe a whole other option in the outfield.
Rounding out the suspects in the outfield are Greg Allen, Bradley Zimmer, Jake Bauers, Domingo Santana, Daniel Johnson, and Tyler Naquin.