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Prospect Mercado gets called up to Tribe

Ramirez moved down in lineup; Karinchak sidelined
@MandyBell02
May 14, 2019

CHICAGO – The moment Indians fans have been waiting for has finally come. The Tribe called up outfield prospect Oscar Mercado on Tuesday. In a corresponding move, outfielder Tyler Naquin was placed on the 10-day injured list with a left calf strain.

CHICAGO – The moment Indians fans have been waiting for has finally come.

The Tribe called up outfield prospect Oscar Mercado on Tuesday. In a corresponding move, outfielder Tyler Naquin was placed on the 10-day injured list with a left calf strain.

Mercado impressed Cleveland's coaching staff in Spring Training to the point that they considered having him break camp with the big league club. Manager Terry Francona, however, said the team didn't want their No. 19 prospect (as ranked by MLB Pipeline) battling through the cold weeks of April in Cleveland and decided to give him everyday at-bats with Triple-A Columbus to start the year.

“Come June, July and August, nobody’s going to care what he did in March, but it’s nice to see it, because you know it’s there and it’s something for him to draw back on,” Francona said during Spring Training. “His balance at the plate right now is unbelievable. He’s come so far. The guys that worked with him when he came over did such a good job with him. And he deserves all the credit, he’s a terrific worker. But man, does he look good.”

In 30 games with the Clippers, the 24-year-old hit .294/.396/.496 with 10 doubles, four home runs, 15 RBIs and 14 stolen bases. Although he predominantly played center field in the Minors, Mercado can play all three outfield positions and would likely do so with the Tribe.

“Well, he worked so hard in the offseason, trying to kind of revamp his swing,” Francona said in March. “Obviously, it’s paying dividends. I mean this kid's -- I don’t care if it’s Spring Training or not, he’s swinging the bat really well. Tremendous defensive outfielder, very good baserunner. I mean, he’s got speed, but I think he’s also an intelligent baserunner. There’s just a lot to like about him.”

Ramirez bumped down in lineup
Francona had mentioned changing up his batting order to separate his switch-hitters, which played a part in shifting Jose Ramirez down from the three spot in the lineup to fifth against Chicago on Monday. But the early-season offensive struggles for the Indians' third baseman were another contributor to the change.

“[The White Sox] have three lefties in their bullpen that can present some issues for us, so trying to accomplish both,” Francona said. “I actually, to be totally blunt, I don’t think it matters where Jose hits. I think he’s played enough and he’s done enough that when he’s going to hit, he’s going to hit. You could hit him first or ninth. I don’t think the pressure of hitting third, I don’t think that wears on him. I think it’s worn on him a little bit, the fact that he hasn’t hit, not where he’s hitting in the lineup.”

Karinchak sidelined
James Karinchak, the Indians’ No. 30 prospect, suffered a slight setback by straining his hamstring. The 23-year-old has dominated in the Minors through his first 13 appearances this year (10 in Double-A, three in Triple-A), having yet to allow a run. He gave up five total hits in his 13 innings, struck out 32 batters and walked three.

Although Karinchak has been placed on Columbus’ seven-day injured list, Francona doesn’t believe the injury is too serious.

“I think he was doing his sprints or something in his conditioning,” Francona said. “I don’t think it’s anything [big].”

This date in Indians history
2015: Corey Kluber tied Bob Feller’s club record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game, racking up 18 punchouts against the Cardinals.

Mandy Bell covers the Indians for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.