5 young players turning heads in Indians camp

March 4th, 2020

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians have reached the top of the Spring Training mountain and are beginning their final descent to the regular season. Tuesday marked the team’s halfway point in its six-week stint in Arizona before heading back to Cleveland for Opening Day.

In just over a week of spring games, the Tribe has had three split-squads, which has caused the team to rely on plenty of younger players to fill some innings. Between those players and some inexperienced names on the 40-man roster, the Indians have had a handful of opportunities to take a peek into their future.

MLB.com polled a dozen players in the Indians’ clubhouse to see which younger faces have impressed the most so far. Let’s take a look at who, in order, received the most votes:

James Karinchak, RRP

Karinchak cruised through his 10 appearances for Double-A Akron last year without giving up a run, prompting his promotion to Triple-A. He ran into trouble with his hamstring last May, which set him back until July. In 17 appearances in Columbus, he posted a 4.67 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 17 1/3 frames. He pitched in five games for the Indians last September and has a chance at breaking camp with the big league club at the end of the month. His curveball has looked top notch this spring, but he’s struggled at times to command his fastball. In 3 2/3 frames this spring, he’s allowed two runs, three walks and has struck out five batters.

Quote: “Watching Karinchak pitch is absolutely amazing,” outfielder Oscar Mercado said. “It’s kind of impressive what he can do on the bump, so I’d probably have to say that’s one the things that I’ve been like ‘Whoa,’ about.”

Bobby Bradley, 1B

Bradley spent the majority of the 2019 season with Triple-A Columbus, aside from playing 15 games with the Indians. With the Clippers, he launched 33 home runs and recorded 23 doubles with 74 RBIs and 153 strikeouts in 107 contests. Bradley will likely begin the year back in Columbus, but he’s displayed his power. In nine spring games, he’s gone 5-for-16 with two homers.

Quote: “Bobby’s looked really, really good,” infielder Christian Arroyo said. “I played against him a little bit in Double-A and Triple-A. His approach has become more refined, especially for a big guy, too. That’s the biggest thing, when you get big kids like that with power in the Minor Leagues to try to translate into the big leagues, it’s a different mindset. Instead of trying to pull everything, he just needs to know he’s strong enough to hit a ball to dead center like he did the other day.”

Anthony Gose, RRP

Gose appeared in 372 Major League games as an outfielder with Toronto and Detroit from 2012-16. He converted to a pitcher in '17 and split last season between Class A Advanced Lynchburg and Double-A Akron with a combined 2.48 ERA in 32 appearances. Indians manager Terry Francona has said that Gose will likely need some more reps as a pitcher before he's big league ready, but he’s impressed nearly everyone who’s watched him this spring, clocking in around 100 mph on the radar gun.

Quote: “Gose, hands down,” reliever James Hoyt said. “Just from the amount of work that guy puts in. To be who he was, an outfielder in the big leagues for multiple seasons, and to decide, ‘You know what? I want to pitch,’ and just see him in the weight room, he’s here early. I love watching that. There’s guys who work their butts off and he’s one of them and it’s showing on the field, too.”

Sam Hentges, LSP:

Hentges, the Tribe’s No. 22 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, finished last season with Double-A Akron, posting a 5.11 ERA in 26 starts with 126 strikeouts and 64 walks. Francona has mentioned that once Hentges figures some things out with his cutter and slider, there’s little doubt that he’ll have a quick rise to the big leagues. His fastball has been clocked in the mid-to-upper 90s this spring and he’s allowed four runs in 1 2/3 frames.

Quote: “Hentges impressed me in Vegas,” shortstop Francisco Lindor said. “He came in and threw pretty hard. I wasn’t expecting that at all.”

Cam Hill, RRP

If there’s a sleeper candidate to make the Indians’ Opening Day roster, it would be Hill. The righty didn’t allow a run in seven appearances between Class A Mahoning Valley and Class A Advanced Lynchburg. He then posted a 4.74 ERA in 21 games for Triple-A Columbus with 36 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings. So far this spring, he’s allowed one run in three frames.

Quote: “His work ethic,” starter Mike Clevinger said. “His stuff is just taking leaps every time I see him. I feel like every year I come in, he’s adding stuff to his repertoire. The thing about it for him [is] just staying healthy. I think we have a good chance of seeing him and have him help us this year.”