Indians' youth movement on display in '21

March 26th, 2021

The Indians knew that they were going to have plenty of eyes on them early this spring watching how and would fill the shoes of , who they traded to the Mets in January. While the club lost one of the best shortstops in the game, the Tribe quickly realized the potential the position now has with the 22-year-old Giménez taking over.

The Tribe’s roster became drastically younger in a short period of time. An inexperienced pitching staff will need to lean on behind the dish and veteran right-hander in the bullpen. The up-and-coming prospects displayed plenty of promise throughout camp, but now the team will need to find out if its inexperience will be a difficult hurdle to overcome.

The Indians have just a few days remaining until they leave Arizona and head to Detroit for Opening Day. Over the past few weeks, the team has learned a lot about where its strengths are and what areas could provide some trouble. Let’s take a look at everything we learned since pitchers and catchers first reported to camp on February 17.

Best development
When the Indians decided to trade Lindor and Carlos Carrasco to the Mets, the team was adamant about getting Giménez in return. Spring Training is a small sample size, but so far, the 22-year-old has shown that he’s worth the excitement. Giménez had a hot bat to start camp, and even after he started to cool down at the plate (while still hitting .282 with an .872 OPS through 14 games), he showcased enough of his tools in the field, on the bases and with his arm strength to earn an Opening Day spot. There may have been a possibility of starting him in the Minors for service time purposes, but his performance locked him in to the big league roster.

Unfortunate events
Entering Spring Training, center field was Oscar Mercado’s job to lose. He had a rough 2020, hitting .128 with a .348 OPS in 36 games. He said he battled with a negative mental state and was ready for a fresh start this winter. Mercado entered camp in a better head space and was confident that the work he put in over the offseason would translate to better results this spring. But that wasn’t the case. Mercado still looked lost at the plate at times throughout Cactus League play, and Cleveland decided with more than a week remaining in camp to option Mercado to Triple-A so that he could stop focusing on the center field competition and solely worry about getting himself back on the right track. That decision leaves a gaping hole to fill in center with options like Bradley Zimmer and Ben Gamel.

Player who opened eyes
Logan Allen looked like a completely different pitcher when he reported to camp this year. Not only was he slimmer after dropping 25 pounds, but he spent the entire winter training with the Indians’ coaching staff in Arizona and completely reworked his mechanics. Those changes have paid off so far in Spring Training, as he pitched to a 1.00 ERA with 11 strikeouts and just one walk in nine innings through his first three Cactus League appearances. Though the rotation was far from set in stone entering camp, many assumed that Triston McKenzie and Cal Quantrill would be the two to join Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac and Aaron Civale. Allen quickly made sure everyone knew it would be a much tighter battle for a spot in the rotation.

Wow moment
Franmil Reyes has wanted to hit the scoreboard at Progressive Field since he got to Cleveland in 2019. He may not have crossed that off his to-do list just yet, but he got one step closer by clipping the bottom of the scoreboard in left field at Goodyear Ballpark on a monster blast against the D-backs on March 3.

In case you missed it
For the first time since 1973, the Tribe will be without its outfield drummer for its home opener. John Adams has been known as the man with the enormous bass drum in the outfield bleachers for decades. But it was around this time last year when he started to feel a little bit off. By the time December rolled around, he had to undergo emergency triple bypass surgery and spent time in the ICU.

“I should be dead,” Adams said.

He’s hoping that he’ll be healthy enough to return to Progressive Field by the middle of the season.