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Around the Horn: Perez ready to step up

Former platoon catcher in line for starting spot; Plawecki brings fresh look to Tribe
MLB.com

In the final weeks prior to Spring Training, MLB.com will be going around the horn to examine each area of the Indians' 2019 roster. This installment focuses on Cleveland's catchers.

When the Indians traded catcher Yan Gomes to the Nationals at the end of November, all eyes quickly turned to Roberto Perez and Minor Leaguer Eric Haase.

In the final weeks prior to Spring Training, MLB.com will be going around the horn to examine each area of the Indians' 2019 roster. This installment focuses on Cleveland's catchers.

When the Indians traded catcher Yan Gomes to the Nationals at the end of November, all eyes quickly turned to Roberto Perez and Minor Leaguer Eric Haase.

After spending the last few seasons splitting time with Gomes, would Perez be able to to step up as the starter and provide offensively? Would Haase be ready to make the leap to the roster after recently making his debut as a September callup last season?

The lack of catching depth quickly changed in the New Year, when the Indians acquired Kevin Plawecki from the Mets on Jan. 6. Now, with the team having a few backstop options, a handful of new questions surrounds the Tribe.

Who will be the starter?
As of now, Indians' president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti expects Perez to get the bulk of the starts, but noted that Spring Training could prove otherwise. Perez has spent all five of his Major League seasons in Cleveland, so the team knows exactly what it is getting, including his "willingness and pride of running a game and keeping a pitcher going," which manager Terry Francona said will be one of the catcher's strengths.

"I think I've been waiting for this opportunity for the last couple years," Perez said. "Now that I have it, I'm going to get the most out of it. I feel like I'm ready. We've got a great team, especially our pitching staff, which is our strength. I want to try to get the most out of it and help my pitching staff."

Although the Tribe has expressed what kind of hitter it knows Perez could be, his bat could be a concern heading into 2019. In 210 plate appearances last year, the backstop hit .168 with two home runs, 19 RBIs, 21 walks and 70 strikeouts. But Perez attributes his struggles at the plate to his sporadic playing time and thinks more consistency will lead to better results.

Video: CLE@TOR: Perez clears the bases with a double

"When you play every day, you get the opportunity to make adjustments," Perez said. "When you don't play, you try to make your at-bats one swing, especially if you play once or twice a week. You try to do too much. You try to make up for games you didn't get a hit, stuff like that. Now that I have the opportunity, it's matter of making adjustments. You get that live pitching every day. And you can get in a rhythm. Hopefully I do a good job."

To get some extra reps, Perez asked to play in the Dominican Winter League this offseason and slashed .333/418/.435 with four doubles, one home run, 11 RBIs and 10 walks in 24 games.

"I'm excited, man," Perez said. "I'm going to prove some people wrong. Like I said, I'm ready for the opportunity, for the challenge, and whatever happens, whatever it takes, I'm there. I can't wait to get going."

What does Plawecki bring to the Tribe?
Plawecki adds much-needed experience to the Indians' depth chart -- which previously was relying on Perez and the Minor Leaguer Haase -- along with quality defense. In 2018, he was one of just two catchers (including the Pirates' Elias Diaz) who worked over 500 innings (Plawecki logged 589 2/3) behind the plate without allowing a passed ball.

Plawecki has spent each of his four Major League seasons with the Mets. Last year, he played in a career-high 79 games, hitting .210 with seven homers and 30 RBIs, but had a six-week stint on the disabled list with a broken left hand.

Video: Plawecki on learning to catch Indians' pitchers 

On top of looking to earn a starting spot at Spring Training, being a newcomer to the club means Plawecki will also have to focus on learning a new pitching staff with a star-studded rotation that's likely to include Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber.

"It'll just be a lot of relying on some of the other guys that have been here and have caught these guys, Perez and [Haase]. Just picking their brains about what these guys have." Plawecki said in a question-and-answer session at last weekend's Tribe Fest. "Video before, and then once we get to Spring, it's just behind the plate all day every day with these guys, trying to understand what they have and what they like to use in certain situations and stuff like that so when we get into the season, we hit the ground running."

Although Perez is the early favorite to win the starting job, nothing is official until the team gets a look at both of its catchers during its six-week stint in Arizona.

What does this mean for Haase?
There was a lot of talk about Haase when Gomes was traded, wondering if the young backstop would be ready to step up to make an impact on the big league club. But the addition of Plawecki puts less pressure on the Tribe to rush its 27th-ranked prospect, per MLB Pipeline, to be Major-League ready.

The catcher had a slow start to his professional career, taking six seasons to advance to Double-A Akron in 2016, but quickly made his way to Triple-A after having a breakout season in '17.

In 120 games for Triple-A Columbus last year, Haase hit .236 with 20 homers, 71 RBIs, 31 walks and 143 strikeouts. In his nine games as a September callup in 2018, he went 2-for-16 (.125) and struck out six times.

Video: DET@CLE: Haase records first big league hit and RBI

It's not certain that Indians' fans won't see Haase in 2019, but the chances are definitely lower than what they were before the calendars flipped over to the New Year.

Who else is in the Pipeline?
No. 4 Noah Naylor (age: 18, highest level: Rookie-level)

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

Cleveland Indians, Eric Haase, Roberto Perez, Kevin Plawecki

Here's why a 3-team Kluber deal could happen

Breaking down report of potential trade between Tribe, Reds, Padres
MLB.com

The Reds need a starting pitcher. The Padres are looking for a third baseman. The Indians would like to add outfielders. Could there be a match that would help all three clubs?

The Athletic reported on Monday that the Padres had explored a potential three-team trade between the clubs that would send ace starter Corey Kluber from Cleveland to Cincinnati, with Reds top prospect and infielder Nick Senzel going to San Diego. It was not reported who the Indians might acquire, although the team needs outfielders, which the Padres have to deal.

The Reds need a starting pitcher. The Padres are looking for a third baseman. The Indians would like to add outfielders. Could there be a match that would help all three clubs?

The Athletic reported on Monday that the Padres had explored a potential three-team trade between the clubs that would send ace starter Corey Kluber from Cleveland to Cincinnati, with Reds top prospect and infielder Nick Senzel going to San Diego. It was not reported who the Indians might acquire, although the team needs outfielders, which the Padres have to deal.

The report noted that no deal was close to being finalized.

Why the trade could work
The Reds, who have been trying to overhaul their rotation all offseason, already acquired starters Tanner Roark and Alex Wood in trades. Both are solid middle-of-the-rotation pieces, but Cincinnati could still use someone for the top of the starting five. Enter Kluber, the two-time American League Cy Young Award winner and the kind of frontline starter the Reds haven't had since dealing Johnny Cueto in 2015. The club, which has space with an increased payroll, has been linked to Kluber in various rumors throughout the Hot Stove season.

Kluber, 32, has one guaranteed year left on his contract, with club options for 2020 and '21. If both options are picked up, the total outlay for his services would be $52.5 million. It's a lot of money for a small-market club, but it's also not a risky long-term contract that would hamstring the Reds for the future.

Video: Tribe, Padres, Reds exploring 3-team deal for Kluber?

Senzel, who is ranked as the Reds' No. 1 prospect (No. 6 overall) by MLB Pipeline, is a natural third baseman and can also play second base and the outfield. He is currently blocked from a starting spot in the infield by third baseman Eugenio Suarez and second baseman Scooter Gennett, but he will be competing for the opening in center field.

The Indians and Padres have had a good working relationship, with their last transaction coming in July when Cleveland acquired relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber. The Tribe is looking for young outfielders who are cost-controlled and can make an impact in 2019 and beyond. Last month, the Indians were linked to San Diego outfielders Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe, both of whom check the majority of the Indians' boxes.

Margot, 24, is under team control through 2022, while Renfroe, 26, wouldn't be a free agent until after the '23 season. Margot is a right-handed-hitting center fielder who slashed .245/.292/.384 with 26 doubles, eight triples, eight homers and 51 RBIs in 2018. Renfroe, a corner outfielder, could bring some much-needed power to the Indians' lineup after hitting .248 with 26 homers and 68 RBIs last season.

Video: Indians might not trade Kluber or Bauer

The Padres have a glut of outfielders, with Wil Myers, Franmil Reyes, Franchy Cordero and Travis Jankowski also on board. They can afford to lose one or both of Renfroe and Margot -- if it means acquiring a third baseman. Right now, unheralded rookie Ty France is slated to start for the Padres at third, though that's likely to change in the coming weeks.

The Indians could also take a look at the Reds, who have plenty of corner-outfield options. Recently acquired Matt Kemp is coming off an All-Star season, hitting .290 with 21 home runs and 85 RBIs. Although Kemp could give the Tribe another option in both the outfield and as a designated hitter, the Indians may prefer younger, cost-controlled talent. The 34-year-old is owed $21.75 million in 2019, though a portion of the Dodgers' $7 million that was sent to the Reds in last month's blockbuster deal will help pay that salary. But the team already has shed roughly $20 million from the payroll and also would be dealing away Kluber's $17 million, so it could be an option.

Why the trade might not work
Because of Senzel's near Major League-ready skills that include an advanced hitting approach, the Reds would likely be apprehensive about moving him. For the Padres, they will probably take a long look at his medical files as Senzel was limited to 44 games at Triple-A last season because of a bout with vertigo in May and a fractured right index finger in June that required season-ending surgery. During instructional league in the fall, he had to stop playing to have bone chips removed from his left elbow.

The Indians may decide they just don't need to deal Kluber, a rotation anchor for three straight postseason teams. The main reason his name came up in the first place was a perceived need to cut costs, and they've already done that this winter -- shedding about $20 million in dealing Edwin Encarnacion, Yonder Alonso and Yan Gomes. Because of this, the Tribe could simply keep its rotation intact. Cleveland has been listening to potential offers for both Kluber and Trevor Bauer throughout the offseason, but it has a specific return in mind that clearly has yet to be met. In order to part ways with its ace, the club would have to receive enough talent to meet the high bar it has set for Kluber.

Video: Cassavell on the Padres' search for a starter

A trade could still happen, but maybe not with the Reds. Another option for both the Padres and the Indians would be giving the Yankees a call to see where they stand on Miguel Andujar. With the Padres looking for a third baseman, the 23-year-old Andujar, who finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year Award voting, may be another option. The Yankees are still looking to deal Sonny Gray, and with CC Sabathia's recent heart procedure and ongoing troubles with his right knee, it would seem logical that New York would be interested in adding another arm, especially of Kluber's caliber. The Yankees also have outfielders Clint Frazier and Aaron Hicks or reliever Chad Green who could be of interest to the Indians.

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

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, San Diego Padres, Corey Kluber, Nick Senzel

OF prospect Johnson among six Tribe NRIs

Former Nats Minor League Player of the Year was acquired in Gomes deal
MLB.com

The Indians will be getting their first look at newly-acquired outfield prospect Daniel Johnson this spring.

Johnson, who is ranked No. 12 among Indians prospects by MLB Pipeline, is one of six non-roster Spring Training invitees that Cleveland announced Friday morning.

The Indians will be getting their first look at newly-acquired outfield prospect Daniel Johnson this spring.

Johnson, who is ranked No. 12 among Indians prospects by MLB Pipeline, is one of six non-roster Spring Training invitees that Cleveland announced Friday morning.

The 23-year-old was acquired from the Nationals on Nov. 30 as part of the Yan Gomes trade, and he has received his first Major League camp invitation in his fourth season as a professional. Johnson spent the majority of the 2018 season with Double-A Harrisburg, but was limited to 89 regular-season games due to a broken right hamate bone. In that time, he posted a slash line of .267/.321/.410 with 19 doubles, seven triples, six homers, 31 RBIs and 21 stolen bases.

In addition to his speed and raw power, Johnson can play all three outfield spots. He was a fifth-round selection in the 2016 Draft out of New Mexico State. In '17, he was named Washington's Minor League Player of the Year.

Another outfield prospect who will be joining Johnson in Goodyear, Ariz. is Mike Papi. The 26-year-old appeared in 65 games in right, six games at first and one game in left for Triple-A Columbus last season. He recorded an on-base percentage of .373, hitting .247 with seven homers, 26 RBIs with the Clippers, and he had an .820 OPS against right-handed pitching.

Video: CLE@CHC: Papi extends the Indians' lead with a single

The rest of the non-roster invitees announced on Friday were catcher Li-Jen Chu, left-hander Rob Kaminsky, righty Henry Martinez and infielder Mark Mathias.

Chu, 24, batted a combined .272 with 10 homers and 51 RBIs in 99 total games for Class A Lynchburg, Double-A Akron and Columbus last year, while Mathias, 24, appeared in 117 games and finished fourth in the Eastern League with 59 walks.

Kaminsky, 24, is coming off an Arizona Fall League All-Star selection after logging a 1.64 ERA in 10 appearances with Glendale, and Martinez, 24, led all Indians Minor League pitchers in saves, combining for 15 in his stops Lynchburg, Akron and Columbus in 2018.

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

Cleveland Indians

Tribe could get creative at Winter Meetings

Antonetti & Co. may look for major trade to help Indians in long term
MLB.com

One need not stretch the metaphoric muscles much to come up with some kind of allegory linking the gambling that goes down in Las Vegas with the wheeling and dealing that goes down at baseball's Winter Meetings. That the two will be intertwined at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino this coming week makes for easy cornball copy.

So let's be clear that the pun is honestly not intended when we say that the stakes are pretty high for the Cleveland Indians right now. These Winter Meetings could take place in Dutch John, Utah (not exactly a gambling mecca), and we'd still be saying much the same.

One need not stretch the metaphoric muscles much to come up with some kind of allegory linking the gambling that goes down in Las Vegas with the wheeling and dealing that goes down at baseball's Winter Meetings. That the two will be intertwined at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino this coming week makes for easy cornball copy.

So let's be clear that the pun is honestly not intended when we say that the stakes are pretty high for the Cleveland Indians right now. These Winter Meetings could take place in Dutch John, Utah (not exactly a gambling mecca), and we'd still be saying much the same.

That's because the Indians, who already dealt All-Star catcher Yan Gomes to the Nationals last week, are entertaining some major, franchise-altering moves right now. For reasons we've gotten into before and will get into again below, Cleveland has to be open to concepts that address current Major League needs and shore up the long-term contention outlook.

And yes, that could mean moving Trevor Bauer or two-time Cy Young Award-winner Corey Kluber.

With Patrick Corbin and Nathan Eovaldi off the free-agent board and the starting-pitching market percolating, the Meetings could be the ideal environment for president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti and general manager Mike Chernoff to definitively decide which direction they're going to go. Though the days of drawing up deals on bar napkins are long gone, the efficiency of the Meetings, where the front offices of every club are gathered in one building for four days, still can have the impact of putting deal discussions in a sort of time compressor. Activity can escalate quickly.

Video: Clevinger on trade rumors surrounding Indians' staff

So we'll see what's in the cards (OK, that pun was intended) in the coming days. For now, here's where things stand with the Meetings about to begin.

Club needs
The Indians need tangible help in their outfield (where Michael Brantley's departure from an already iffy alignment looms large) and in their bullpen (where the free-agent departures of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen loom large), but, first and foremost, they need the salary relief it would take to adequately fill those needs (see below for more on the payroll picture). That's why there is so much talk about Cleveland potentially dealing a starting pitcher in a trade that directly (talent) or indirectly (money) influences these areas.

Whom might they trade?
With the club having already dealt from one area of valued depth with the Gomes deal and Carlos Carrasco locked into a new contract extension, all eyes are on Kluber and Bauer, and either would be capable of bringing back a team-altering trade haul. Cleveland has had conversations with clubs about both players, and there is a sense in the industry that the Indians might be more inclined to move Bauer than Kluber. Of course, given the difficulty of making a deal in which two contenders both get better, it's possible neither pitcher is moved. It's possible that the Indians would try to attach Jason Kipnis, who is owed just north of $14 million and is coming off two below-average seasons, to either pitcher in a deal.

Video: CLE@KC: Kipnis slugs solo homer, Tribe takes lead

Prospects to know
The Indians are far more inclined to dealing from areas of depth on the Major League roster to impact that roster than doing a more traditional prospects-for-big-leaguers deal. With that said, their most valuable chips down on the farm are arguably right-hander Triston McKenzie (No. 1 on the Indians' top prospects list per MLB Pipeline), third baseman Nolan Jones (No. 2) and, given his position and near-readiness, shortstop Yu Chang (No. 6).

Rule 5 Draft
Unlike a tourist sauntering out of the Mandalay Bay buffet after his third piece of pie, the Indians' 40-man roster is not quite full. So they do have the room to add a player during the Rule 5 Draft. The Indians left their No. 23-rated prospect, Oscar Gonzalez, unprotected in the Rule 5, though he is only 20 years old and hasn't played above A-ball, so he wouldn't be the safest bet to stick on a big league roster for the duration of 2019.

Payroll summary
The gist of the Indians' winter is that they're suffering significant free-agent losses with very little accompanying salary relief because of in-house raises and arbitration cases. The Tribe has already carried franchise-record payrolls each of the past two seasons, and it is not raising the payroll. That's why the front office is trying to creatively address the needs of a maturing roster, potentially with a major trade.

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.

Cleveland Indians

Pipeline names Indians' Prospects of the Year

MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- When last season began, Shane Bieber was with Class A Lake County, four Minor League rungs below the big leagues. Now, the rookie right-hander is a trusted part of the Indians' pitching staff for the upcoming American League Division Series against the Astros.

For farmhands like pitcher Eli Morgan -- named the Indians' 2018 Minor League Pitcher of the Year by MLB Pipeline -- Bieber is the latest example that Cleveland will push players who not only turn in strong results, but exhibit Major League characteristics behind the scenes. Process plus performance can put any player on a swift path to the Majors.

CLEVELAND -- When last season began, Shane Bieber was with Class A Lake County, four Minor League rungs below the big leagues. Now, the rookie right-hander is a trusted part of the Indians' pitching staff for the upcoming American League Division Series against the Astros.

For farmhands like pitcher Eli Morgan -- named the Indians' 2018 Minor League Pitcher of the Year by MLB Pipeline -- Bieber is the latest example that Cleveland will push players who not only turn in strong results, but exhibit Major League characteristics behind the scenes. Process plus performance can put any player on a swift path to the Majors.

"I think there's a group of players that sees that and says, 'Hey, that could be me,'" said Carter Hawkins, the Indians' assistant general manager. "There's another group, which hopefully is the majority, that says, 'What did he do outside of just performance?' Because, there's a lot of guys that perform really well. What Shane was able to do was to prepare like a Major Leaguer from the time he started in A ball. And so, the foundation that he built allowed us to feel very confident in pushing him."

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

Besides Morgan, MLB Pipeline also honored third baseman Nolan Jones as the Indians' 2018 Hitter of the Year. Each team's Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year were chosen by the MLB Pipeline staff. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors and appeared on the team's Top 30 Prospects list.

Jones is currently No. 2 on the Tribe's Top 30 list, while Morgan checks in at No. 15.

The 22-year-old Morgan was selected in the eighth round of the 2017 MLB Draft out of Gonzaga and has gone 12-9 with a 2.83 ERA in his first two professional seasons. Over 178 1/3 innings in the Minors, the right-hander has amassed 214 strikeouts compared to 43 walks.

This past season, Morgan climbed from Lake County to Class A Advanced Lynchburg, going 9-7 with a 3.27 ERA overall with 156 strikeouts vs. 34 walks in 143 1/3 innings. Hawkins noted that Morgan generated a surplus of swing-and-miss with his changeup, which is the prospect's primary out pitch.

"He has a really, really good changeup. He has the ability to miss bats that way," Hawkins said. "That's probably been his bread and butter, as he's kind of shot through the system, getting up to Lynchburg this year. He's going to have to continue to improve the overall stuff around that command and that feel for his offspeed, and to continue to be able to miss bats the way he has.

"He has a really good feel to pitch. He's probably pitching beyond his years right now in terms of know-how. We're really excited about the foundation he's built for himself, and we're looking for him to take that next step next year to enhance the stuff."

Video: Top Prospects: Nolan Jones, 3B, Indians

Jones, 20, was taken by Cleveland in the second round of the 2016 Draft out of Holy Ghost Prep in Philadelphia. This past season, the 6-foot-4 lefty-swinging Jones turned in a .283/.405/.466 slash line with 19 home runs, 21 doubles, 66 RBIs and 69 runs scored. Jones drew 89 walks and struck out 131 times.

"He really improved his plate discipline and just had a better understanding of who he was as a hitter," Hawkins said. "He's got a hockey background, so he's got that edge to him as well on the field, that competitive edge. That's really great to see. And he's improved his defense significantly at third -- his range, his arm, all those those have ticked up.

"Hopefully, he continues that progress and that's a position he'll be able to stay at. He's a guy you'd only think that more experience he gets, the more power is going to come into play as well. He's a guy we're really, really excited about." 

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

Cleveland Indians

Haase, Edwards among first wave of callups

Davis actiated from DL; Marshall designated for assignment; Donaldson's arrival imminent
MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- It's been a busy 24 hours for the Indians' front office.

The club announced Saturday it had selected the contracts of catcher Eric Haase -- the team's No. 24 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline -- and right-handed reliever Jon Edwards from Triple-A Columbus. Cleveland also activated outfielder Rajai Davis from the 10-day disabled list, and designated right-hander Evan Marshall for assignment.

View Full Game Coverage

CLEVELAND -- It's been a busy 24 hours for the Indians' front office.

The club announced Saturday it had selected the contracts of catcher Eric Haase -- the team's No. 24 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline -- and right-handed reliever Jon Edwards from Triple-A Columbus. Cleveland also activated outfielder Rajai Davis from the 10-day disabled list, and designated right-hander Evan Marshall for assignment.

View Full Game Coverage

The moves came just hours after the club acquired former American League MVP Josh Donaldson, along with cash considerations, from the Blue Jays. The Indians are responsible for $1 million of the third baseman's $23 million salary this season.

The club said Donaldson would arrive in Cleveland on Saturday but wasn't sure when he would play, as the 32-year-old is still rehabbing a left calf injury that's sidelined him since late May.

"[Donaldson] is an MVP-type player, a middle-of-the-order bat," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He kinda puts a little fear into you when he gets in the batter's box. He plays with an edge; he plays hard. Again, there's no crystal ball, and we know that. We know there's a risk there, but it's got a chance to make us better."

Video: MLB Tonight on Donaldson being traded to the Indians

Both September callups are excited to help the Tribe secure its third consecutive AL Central title, but the news was even sweeter for Edwards, who has bounced around the Majors since 2014.

"It was a little like the first time I got called up, I'm not going to lie," said Edwards, an outfielder-turned-pitcher who missed 2016 and '17 due to an elbow injury and recovery from Tommy John surgery. "It was a long road, and I'm excited to be here, and I feel like I'm in the right place. I'm just happy to be a part of the team, really."

Edwards, 30, spent parts of 2014 and '15 with the Rangers before he was traded to the Padres in August. He signed a Minor League contract with the Tribe on March 22 and has split time between Double-A Akron and Columbus, going 2-1 with four saves and a 3.63 ERA in 34 relief appearances.

"He's been an interesting arm," Francona said. "Mid-90s fastball, some experience, a guy who could potentially help us next year, too, so we wanted to get a look at him."

Haase was the Tribe's seventh-round Draft pick in 2011, and hit .236/.288/.443 in 120 games with the Clippers. This marks Haase's first big league promotion.

"I feel like I've learned a lot," Haase said. "Defensively, I feel like I've made good strides. I get along great with the staff down there. … Offensively, I feel like I learned a lot, too. There have been times where I've really struggled this year, and then times where I really turned it around.

"It's been a big learning curve."

Worth noting
• Francona said with the addition of Donaldson, All-Star Jose Ramirez will move back to second base, his native position, and Jason Kipnis will begin taking reps in center field once Donaldson is back to playing condition. Francona has been on record before saying he wasn't in favor of moving Ramirez and Kipnis around, but said he got the blessing of all parties involved.

Video: Antonetti discusses acquisition of Donaldson

• Right-hander Trevor Bauer (10-day DL, right fibula stress fracture) has thrown a couple bullpen sessions, but trainers told Francona the starter has made "minimal improvement" after undergoing a scan Saturday to evaluate Bauer's progress. The news, however, was expected for the three-week mark of the injury. Francona added Bauer has felt "minimal soreness" when throwing off the mound, but there's still no return date in sight.

"The medical people told me was that every day he shows up, they plan out the day depending on how he's feeling," Francona said. "That's the way they'll continue to do it."

• Reliever Cody Anderson was at Progressive Field to throw a bullpen session as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery. The right-hander has been sidelined since 2017, but began a rehab assignment with Class A on Thursday, and will continue his rehab with Double-A Akron.

• Francona also said right-hander Neil Ramirez (10-day DL, lower back spasms) should be activated Sunday.

Casey Harrison is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. You can follow him on Twitter @Casey_Harrison1.

Cleveland Indians, Jon Edwards, Eric Haase

Top prospect finds home in Indians system

17-year-old Valera, ranked 5th in organization by MLB Pipeline, can play all three outfield positions
MLB.com

PHOENIX -- Indians prospect George Valera used to consider the Dominican Republic his second home, the place where he visited family and always had a great time, but it wasn't really his home-home.

Valera was a native New Yorker, a kid from the Bronx with tons of talent and bright future in the United States. His parents were the ones raised in San Pedro de Macoris, not him.

PHOENIX -- Indians prospect George Valera used to consider the Dominican Republic his second home, the place where he visited family and always had a great time, but it wasn't really his home-home.

Valera was a native New Yorker, a kid from the Bronx with tons of talent and bright future in the United States. His parents were the ones raised in San Pedro de Macoris, not him.

By 12, Valera had scholarship offers to play at some of the top high schools in the city. At 13, he was living in the middle of San Pedro with his parents after a family crisis flipped his life upside down.

"I was so mad at first and my Spanish wasn't the best, but I had to go," said Valera, 17, who when he moved was at the age domestic and international scouts start to pay attention. "I had everything in New York and life in the Dominican is so much different, but I had no choice. You go where your parents go."

The adjustment to everyday life in the D.R. wasn't easy and it was hard for him to leave his two older siblings, who were both in their 30s, but the teenager's experience helped to shape him into the young man he is today. The Indians are reaping the rewards of his development. Valera, who ranked No. 22 on MLB.com's Top International Prospect List in 2017, is ranked No. 5 among the club's prospects.

"One of the interesting things about him is that he can adapt to anything, and he's a guy that can play all three in outfield positions, so there are a lot of options," said Indians farm director James Harris. "He's also physically mature for his age, there's some speed there, and some pop in the bat that's only going to get better. When you see him play, you don't see a 17-year-old, you see a guy that's advanced. You a see a guy that's mature and not just mature on the field."

Valera, who signed a $1.3 million bonus with the Indians on July 2, 2017, shined during extended spring training in Arizona and was among the youngest players to participate in the Arizona Rookie League this year. He was sidelined early in the season after breaking the hamate bone in his right hand while swinging in a game. Valera was off to a hot start in the AZL before the injury, reaching base in each of his first six games and going 6-for-18 with a double, homer, three walks and six RBIs. He is expected resume play in the Dominican Instructional League later this summer.

Video: Top International Prospects: George Valera, OF

"He needs some at-bats and we'll make sure he gets them," Harris said. "Then he'll come to Spring Training and we'll see where he goes from there."

Going back home to Dominican Republic will be much easier this time. Valera's family originally moved back to the island four years ago after his father was in a car accident that damaged his arms and legs so severely that metal rods were inserted. The New York winters proved to be too hard on his father, so the family moved back to the warm Caribbean climate. The Valeras eventually started a real estate company and opened a flower shop.

The teen will also get a chance to fulfil the promise he made to his mother to earn a high school diploma. Before Valera signed with the Indians, he attended a school in the Dominican Republic. He continued his studies online and completed his final exam earlier this month.

"My mother is strict, and school has always been important to her," Valera said. "I remember having to go to school in the mornings and in the Dominican, baseball programs usually operate in the mornings, so I would miss out. I remember going to couple of programs and they didn't let me hit or anything. They just looked at body and asked my age and told me to come back another day because they were too busy to train me. I was a nobody."

Valera spent most of those early days on the island in a frustrating search for a place to train. Arias & Goodman Baseball Academy finally took a chance on him after watching the desperate teen try out in his school uniform. The Indians eventually saw him, too, and later offered him a deal.

"In hindsight, our international scouts were right about him," Harris said. "And once you meet him in person and see how he interacts, there is character that goes with his high level of play. Those are the type of players you look for and that's exactly who he is."

It didn't take long for Valera to assume a leadership role, even among his older teammates, once he signed. Fluent in Spanish and English, Valera can communicate with everyone in the clubhouse. He also understands both cultures, and their struggles, so he often serves as a bridge between his English- and Spanish-speaking teammates.

"I just appreciate things more than I ever did," Valera said. "I understand how hard people worked to get off the island and I know what people in the United States have to go through. It's different. It all just opened my mind so much."

Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.

Cleveland Indians

Indians bolster outfield with Martin from Tigers

Club also receives Minor Leaguer from Detroit in return for prospect Castro
MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- It was not a blockbuster move that stole the spotlight on a hectic Tuesday around the Majors, but it was a trade that made a lot of sense for the Indians.

Prior to Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Tribe reeled in center fielder Leonys Martin from the Tigers in exchange for shortstop prospect Willi Castro. Detroit also sent Double-A starter Kyle Dowdy to Cleveland as part of the deal, which was the second Major League move made by the Tribe during the trade season.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- It was not a blockbuster move that stole the spotlight on a hectic Tuesday around the Majors, but it was a trade that made a lot of sense for the Indians.

Prior to Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Tribe reeled in center fielder Leonys Martin from the Tigers in exchange for shortstop prospect Willi Castro. Detroit also sent Double-A starter Kyle Dowdy to Cleveland as part of the deal, which was the second Major League move made by the Tribe during the trade season.

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The Indians have been trying to patch together an outfield riddled with injuries, and Martin brings plus defense in center field and a bat to help against right-handed pitching. On Monday night, rumors flew that the Indians had inquired with the Nationals about the availability of superstar Bryce Harper. Washington elected to stand pat, so Cleveland's talks veered down a more realistic path.

"We explored a lot of alternatives to try to address and improve our outfield," said Chris Antonetti, the Indians' president of baseball operations. "We were really pleased to be able to acquire Leonys Martin. We think he's a great complement to our roster."

Martin is scheduled to land in Minnesota on Tuesday night and will be officially added to the active roster for Wednesday's game in the Twin Cities.

Tweet from @leonys27martin: I would like to thank the Detroit fans for all of your support during my short stay in Motor City. Thank you to my teammates and the coaching staff, you were great. Cleveland thank you for the new opportunity. I am ready!

All-Star Michael Brantley has provided the only source of stability in the Indians' outfield, manning left field while center and right have lost players to injury left and right. Center fielder Bradley Zimmer (right shoulder) is out for eight to 12 months. Right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall (right calf) could be down for the year. Outfielder Tyler Naquin (stress reaction in his right hip) is on the 10-day DL and will see a specialist later this week.

Martin can take over the bulk of the innings in center, splitting time with veteran Rajai Davis, who can get starts against lefties and offer speed off the bench. In 638 1/3 innings in center this season, the 30-year-old Martin had recorded three Defensive Runs Saved. His 13.4 UZR/150 ranks second among qualified MLB center fielders, as do the 8.2 fielding runs above average logged this year.

"We lost Zimmer, we lost Chiz, we lost Naquin," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "So, when it was all said and done, you're like, 'OK, what can really impact us?' A center fielder that complements Raj. I think sometimes people lose track of like, OK, what's your roster? And what complements what?"

Tweet from @rajai11davis: Oh btw am I late on welcoming @leonys27martin to the @Indians well we welcome you

Offensively, Martin can slot into the lower third of the lineup and potentially provide an uptick in production for Cleveland's very top-heavy order. Martin has a .251/.321/.409 slash line with nine homers and 27 extra-base hits in 78 games this season. He has hit .275 with a .783 OPS and 113 wRC+ against right-handed pitching, meaning he has been 13 percent above league average in that regard.

Martin has dealt with a left hamstring issue on and off this season, but Antonetti said the Indians are confident that the outfielder is moving past that problem.

"We spent a lot of time on that," Antonetti said. "Also, we had the ability to see him play over the last handful of games to watch and make sure he's healthy. We think he's working his way back to full strength and top speed, but he's getting pretty close to that level."

The Indians always prefer to target players with multiple years of control in trades and Martin fits that description, as well. He is under contract this season for $1.75 million and has one more year of arbitration eligibility remaining. That offers Cleveland a layer of protection in the outfield, given that Zimmer could miss the first half next season and Chisenhall is hitting free agency this winter.

Before landing Martin, the Indians were also linked to outfielders Adam Jones, Adam Duvall, Derek Dietrich, Joey Gallo and Cameron Maybin, among others, in various reports and rumors. Jones, specifically, had the right to block any trade due to his 10-and-5 rights (at least 10 years of MLB service and at least five years with the current club).

Antonetti said the Indians never reached a point in any talks where a player with veto rights was asked if he would approve a deal.

"We never got to the point of presenting something to a player," Antonetti said. "But there were hundreds of different concepts that we talked about over the last few weeks. We were able to get a couple of them done, but [having some deals collapse] is par for the course as you explore trades."

Dowdy, 25, was a 12th-round selection by Detroit in the 2015 Draft and offers a layer of rotation depth for the Tribe's farm system. Between Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo this year, the right-hander was 8-8 with a 4.74 ERA, 92 strikeouts and 32 walks in 95 innings.

The 21-year-old Castro -- ranked eighth overall on the Indians' Top 30 prospects, per MLB Pipeline -- has been heralded for his defensive play throughout the Minors. This past winter, Cleveland even added the young infielder to its 40-man roster to protect him from possible selection in the Rule 5 Draft in December. The presence of Francisco Lindor made a prospect like Castro (currently at Double-A) expendable.

The Indians also pulled off a Minor League trade with the Cardinals on Tuesday, reeling in outfield prospect Oscar Mercado for Minor League outfielders Conner Capel and Jhon Torres.

The Martin deal helps Cleveland's need for improvement in the outfield and comes on the heels of the Tribe addressing its need for bullpen reinforcements. On July 19, the Indians shipped their former top prospect, catcher Francisco Mejia, to the Padres in order to land All-Star closer Brad Hand and sidearmer Adam Cimber.

"They did a really good job," Francona said of the front office. "I mean, it's not easy. We have some parameters, which we know are in place. We're not going to be the Dodgers or the Red Sox. But, we don't want that to get in the way of us winning. And I think they've done an unbelievable job of making us better."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

Cleveland Indians, Leonys Martin

McKenzie tops latest Indians' prospect rankings

Naquin scratched with hip discomfort; Injury update on Miller
MLB.com

DETROIT -- The trade that sent catcher Francisco Mejia to the Padres last week trimmed off the top of the Indians' prospect rankings. This week, amidst a series of trades around baseball, MLB Pipeline also re-ranked the game's top prospects overall and at the team level.

In the wake of all the changes, right-hander Triston McKenzie is now deemed the Indians' top prospect and the 37th prospect overall in MLB Pipeline's top 100 rankings. On Friday afternoon, Tribe starter Shane Bieber cracked a wide smile when learning that McKenzie now held the top spot in Cleveland's system.

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DETROIT -- The trade that sent catcher Francisco Mejia to the Padres last week trimmed off the top of the Indians' prospect rankings. This week, amidst a series of trades around baseball, MLB Pipeline also re-ranked the game's top prospects overall and at the team level.

In the wake of all the changes, right-hander Triston McKenzie is now deemed the Indians' top prospect and the 37th prospect overall in MLB Pipeline's top 100 rankings. On Friday afternoon, Tribe starter Shane Bieber cracked a wide smile when learning that McKenzie now held the top spot in Cleveland's system.

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"That's awesome," Bieber said.

Last week, the Indians shipped Mejia (No. 1 catching prospect, No. 3 on Padres' top 30 and No. 21 on MLB Pipeline's top 100) to San Diego in exchange for All-Star closer Brad Hand and right-handed reliever Adam Cimber. McKenzie and Bieber then moved up to No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, on the Indians' revised top 30 prospects list.

A right forearm issue kept McKenzie in extended spring training to start this season, but he has made 10 starts with Double-A Akron since making his return on June 7. In 54 2/3 innings, the right-hander has amassed 51 strikeouts against 17 walks with a 2.96 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. McKenzie, 20, is more than four years younger than the average Eastern League pitcher, per Baseball-Reference.

McKenzie -- selected in the first round (42nd overall pick) by the Indians in the 2015 MLB Draft -- has gone 24-14 with a 2.73 ERA since turning pro. In 293 career innings, the righty has 358 strikeouts vs. 87 walks, averaging 11.0 strikeouts per nine innings with a 4.1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

"He's got that disappearing fastball," said Bieber, who was teammates with McKenzie in the Minors. "Then, when you pair that up with the curveball that he's got, it's extremely tough to hit. I can't tell you how many times I've seen that guy just go out there time after time, seven innings, one hit, 12 K's or whatever. He just knows how to pitch and he knows how to use his stuff. I think he knows who he is as a pitcher, and that's probably his greatest strength.

"It's truly impressive. You forget how young he is, one, because of how successful he is at every level with guys who are a lot older than him. But, too, just how he pitches and creates his game. His mental maturity -- how he knows how to pitch -- you don't see that a lot with younger guys, guys his age."

Quotable
"He's so much of what's good in our game. Everybody can't wait to hear what he says. I heard somebody on TV today say he didn't really think he ever had a bad day. That's just the way he treated people, the way he acted." -- Indians manager Terry Francona, on Jim Thome, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this weekend

Worth noting

• Left-hander Andrew Miller (60-day DL, right knee) completed a 35-pitch bullpen session on Thursday and is now scheduled to make a Minor League rehab appearance with Class A Lake County on Saturday. Barring any setbacks, the tentative plan for Miller after that step will be back-to-back rehab outings on Monday and Tuesday.

• Expect Francona to continue to mix and match with righty Cody Allen and the left-handed Hand in save situations. The Indians' manager added that he is also looking for non-save situations for Allen (7.41 ERA since the start of June, entering Friday) to continue to work on some mechanical adjustments. 

"You might see that happen for the foreseeable future," Francona said. "We're trying to get him on a roll."

• Right-hander Josh Tomlin (10-day DL, right hamstring) is scheduled to throw a simulated game during the Tribe's upcoming series in Minnesota. ... Righty Cody Anderson (60-day DL, right elbow) has resumed throwing long-toss after a shut-down period in his comeback from Tommy John surgery.

• Outfielder Tyler Naquin was scratched from the starting lineup in Friday night's 8-3 win over the Tigers due to discomfort in his right hip. Veteran outfielder Rajai Davis got the start in center in Naquin's place. Francona said after the game that Naquin will head back to Cleveland for further examination, with more information expected prior to Saturday's game.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

Cleveland Indians

No. 1 catching prospect Mejia gets brief callup

MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona has raved about Shane Bieber's poise and composure on the mound, and the rookie right-hander will have a chance to keep impressing his club in the second half.

In the meantime, Francisco Mejia -- the Tribe's top prospect and the No. 15 prospect in the game, according to MLB Pipeline -- is coming back to the Major Leagues.

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CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona has raved about Shane Bieber's poise and composure on the mound, and the rookie right-hander will have a chance to keep impressing his club in the second half.

In the meantime, Francisco Mejia -- the Tribe's top prospect and the No. 15 prospect in the game, according to MLB Pipeline -- is coming back to the Major Leagues.

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Prior to Saturday's game against the Yankees, the Indians optioned Bieber to Triple-A Columbus and recalled Mejia from the same affiliate. The switch-hitting Mejia, the top-ranked catching prospect in baseball, batted sixth and served as the Tribe's designated hitter for Saturday's game against New York. Francona said the plan is to option Mejia back to Triple-A after Sunday, so he can keep playing with the Clippers, who are currently on their All-Star break.

"Tomorrow, maybe he pinch-hits or something, we'll see," Francona said Saturday. "Then we'll send him back. He knows that. We don't want him sitting over break and we just thought we could expand our roster a little bit."

Mejia has also been receiving playing time in the outfield. In 11 games with the Indians last year, he hit .154 with one RBI and one run scored. In Triple-A this season, he's played in 40 games as a catcher, 29 as an outfielder and 11 as a DH. Mejia, 22, is slashing .279/.329/.428 through 326 plate appearances with the Clippers. In June, Mejia hit .455 with a 1.193 OPS, four homers, 23 RBIs and 14 strikeouts.

During Mejia's brief stint with the Tribe last season, he said he learned a lot from hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo and assistant Victor Rodriguez. When slumping earlier this year, he resorted to what he learned in Cleveland.

"I took that advice they were giving me and translated it over there and started to work on the stuff I needed to improve." Mejia said via a translator. "Then it came into place."

Given Mejia's progression lately, Francona said it's a great reminder for the prospect that the big leagues may soon be on the horizon.

"They're only like a phone call away," Francona said. "One day you can be in Columbus or wherever, the next day you're in Chicago. I think that sometimes can serve to give them some hope, especially when you're struggling like that. Like 'Hey, I'm actually pretty well thought of.' Yeah, I think it can be good for guys."

Bieber (5-1) went seven-plus innings and allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits and two walks with six strikeouts in Friday's 6-5 win over the Yankees. Due to the timing of the All-Star break, the move to send Bieber down will allow the right-hander to keep his routine in preparation for returning to Cleveland's rotation. His next start projects to be July 24 against the Pirates.

"Bieber has known for quite a while, so he could plan also," Francona said.

Worth noting

Francona also said starter Carlos Carrasco will be available out of the bullpen Saturday and possibly Sunday, depending on how he's used. The right-hander threw five innings against the Reds on Wednesday, allowing one run on five hits. Francona also said the order of the pitching rotation after the All-Star break is still to be determined and depends on whether Trevor Bauer will throw during the Midsummer Classic.

Should Bauer -- who's scheduled to pitch Sunday -- decide to throw on Tuesday, it gives Francona the option to go with another starter. One possibility is Corey Kluber, who received a gel injection in his knee Friday following his start Thursday, when he gave up six runs on eight hits across 7 1/3 innings against the Yankees.

"That's part of why Kluber wasn't DL'd," Francona said. "Just to keep our options open."

Casey Harrison is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.

Cleveland Indians, Francisco Mejia

Mejia selected to third straight Futures Game

Carrasco activated; Indians acquire reliever Hoyt from Astros
MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- Indians fans have been clamoring about wanting Francisco Mejia's bat promoted to the Major League lineup. Opposing organizations are undoubtedly asking about the highly touted prospect in trade talks. One thing is clear: Mejia's future seems to be bright.

That was evident again on Friday, when Mejia was named to the World roster for the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game for the third consecutive year. The catcher will join Minor League right-hander Kieran Lovegrove as Cleveland's representatives at the annual prospect showcase, which will take place at 4 p.m. ET on July 15 at Nationals Park on MLB Network and simulcast on MLB.com.

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CLEVELAND -- Indians fans have been clamoring about wanting Francisco Mejia's bat promoted to the Major League lineup. Opposing organizations are undoubtedly asking about the highly touted prospect in trade talks. One thing is clear: Mejia's future seems to be bright.

That was evident again on Friday, when Mejia was named to the World roster for the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game for the third consecutive year. The catcher will join Minor League right-hander Kieran Lovegrove as Cleveland's representatives at the annual prospect showcase, which will take place at 4 p.m. ET on July 15 at Nationals Park on MLB Network and simulcast on MLB.com.

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:: 2018 Futures Game coverage ::

Being selected to three Futures Games has only been achieved a handful of times since the event's creation in 1999. In Indians history, shortstop Francisco Lindor (2012-14) and outfielder Shin-Soo Choo (2002, '04-05) were named to three rosters. Current Tribe slugger Edwin Encarnacion (2003-05) also accomplished the feat when he was a member of the Reds organization.

Mejia's selection comes on the heels of an otherworldly June at Triple-A Columbus for the catcher, who is rated not only as the Indians' top prospect, but as the No. 1 catching prospect in baseball, per MLB Pipeline. In 24 games last month, the 22-year-old hit .455 with 18 extra-base hits, 23 RBIs, 45 hits and a 1.193 OPS. That included a streak of eight multihit games from June 23-30, during which he hit .528 (19-for-36).

Through 72 games on the season for Columbus, Mejia is hitting .279 with seven home runs, 21 doubles, 31 runs scored and 42 RBIs. Mejia has split his time between catching (38 starts) and the outfield (22 starts), as the Indians have tried to enhance his versatility in an effort to potentially get him to the big leagues faster. At the moment, Cleveland is content with its Major League catching duo of Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez.

"I'm thrilled the kid Mejia is doing what he's doing, because I think we all feel like this kid's going to help us," Indians manager Terry Francona said recently. "[But] you don't want him to come up and sit the bench. That's not developing."

Mejia is from Bani, Dominican Republic, which is the same city that Indians star Jose Ramirez calls home. Lovegrove -- a first time Futures Game selectee -- was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. Infielder Gift Ngoepe is the only player from South Africa to reach the Major Leagues.

Lovegrove, 23, is enjoying a breakout campaign as a reliever and has climbed to Double-A Akron from Class A Advacned Lynchburg already this season. After posting a 5.12 ERA in his first six professional seasons, the right-hander has turned in a 1.38 ERA through 25 appearances this year. Lovegrove (selected in the third round of the 2012 Draft) has 46 strikeouts against 18 walks in 39 innings between Lynchburg and Akron this season.

Carrasco activated, Hoyt acquired

The Indians made a handful of roster moves prior to Friday's game against the A's, bringing Carlos Carrasco back to the Major League rotation and adding an intriguing arm to their depth chart.

Cleveland activated Carrasco from the 10-day disabled list following his bout with a right elbow contusion and designated reliever George Kontos for assignment to clear a spot on the active roster. Removing Kontos from the 40-man roster also vacated a spot for righty James Hoyt, who was acquired from the Astros in exchange for Minor League pitcher Tommy DeJuneas.

Hoyt, who has been assigned to Columbus, has one option year remaining beyond 2018. The right-hander boasts a strikeout rate of 11.8 per nine innings in parts of three seasons (2016-18) with Houston. In 66 career MLB appearances, Hoyt has a 4.40 ERA with 94 strikeouts vs. 24 walks in 71 2/3 innings. He posted a 2.25 ERA with 33 strikeouts and eight walks in 28 innings for Triple-A Fresno this year.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

Cleveland Indians, Carlos Carrasco, Francisco Mejia

Indians sign their top 2 picks from 2018 Draft

MLB.com

KANSAS CITY -- The Indians announced Tuesday that they have signed three picks from the 2018 Draft, including their top two selections.

High schoolers Noah Naylor, Ethan Hankins and Korey Holland and Oregon State's Steven Kwan all signed with the Tribe for more than their slotted or expected amounts. Naylor signed for a bonus of $2,578,138 (No. 29 pick value: $2,332,700), Hankins for $2,246,022 (No. 35 pick value: $2,016,400) and Holland for $515,000 (No. 433 pick value: $125,000).

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KANSAS CITY -- The Indians announced Tuesday that they have signed three picks from the 2018 Draft, including their top two selections.

High schoolers Noah Naylor, Ethan Hankins and Korey Holland and Oregon State's Steven Kwan all signed with the Tribe for more than their slotted or expected amounts. Naylor signed for a bonus of $2,578,138 (No. 29 pick value: $2,332,700), Hankins for $2,246,022 (No. 35 pick value: $2,016,400) and Holland for $515,000 (No. 433 pick value: $125,000).

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Naylor, a catcher from St. Joan of Arc Catholic in Mississauga, Ont., projects as a strong hitter with heavy power, and he has a strong defensive profile in addition to his proficiency at the plate. He was previously committed to play at Texas A&M.

"We're excited about Noah's bat. He can really hit," director of amateur scouting Scott Barnsby said during the Draft. "[He] controls the strike zone, [has] really good hand-eye [coordination]. Can drive the ball to all fields. There's power there. Defensively, [he's] a stay-behind-the-plate catcher with arm strength."

Video: Naylor blasts 420-foot home run to second deck

Naylor's power culminated in an appearance at the High School Home Run Derby during last year's All-Star festivities at Marlins Park in Miami. He finished second in the competition to Nolan Gorman, who was taken 10 picks before Naylor by the Cardinals.

As a member of the Ontario Blue Jays (an elite 18-and-up team based in his home province), Naylor hit .421 in seven games. He also played for the Canadian Junior National Team, touring Spring Training facilities in Florida to play against members of the Red Sox and Blue Jays.

The Indians found Naylor a battery-mate just six picks later, when they drafted Hankins, a right-handed pitcher from Forsyth Central High in Cumming, Ga. He had been committed to pitch at Vanderbilt.

Video: Draft 2018: Indians draft RHP Ethan Hankins No. 35

Hankins was projected by many to be one of the first pitchers drafted this year, but a muscular issue with his throwing shoulder made his stock fall. He did make a recovery, however, and finished the season strong.

Cleveland was drawn to Hankins' 6-foot-6-inch frame, which allows his long arms to operate smoothly in his delivery. He projects as a starter, with his best pitch being a fastball that sits consistently in the mid-90s and tops out at around 98 mph.

"Ethan is an impressive young man," Barnsby said during the Draft. "It's a four-pitch mix, and he throws a lot of strikes. He's an athletic kid. The arm works well, so we're absolutely looking at him as a starter."

Kwan was a member of the Oregon State squad that recently captured the 2018 College World Series title. Battling an injury, he started just one game in the Finals, and pinch-hit in another.

The regular leadoff hitter for the Beavers, Kwan swings a consistent bat and has good speed out of the box. It translates to the outfield as well, where he exhibits strong range in center field.

Holland, who was drafted in the 14th round, is a speedy center fielder with a solid line-drive approach at the plate. He was committed to play at Texas.

Jordan Wolf is a reporter for MLB.com based in Kansas City.

Cleveland Indians

Mejia making case for Majors? Tito responds

MLB.com

OAKLAND -- While Roberto Perez was guiding Indians starter Trevor Bauer through another solid start on Friday night, catching prospect Francisco Mejia was continuing his torrid streak at the plate for Triple-A Columbus. Mejia collected four hits, marking his seventh multi-hit game in a row.

Mejia's incredible offensive showing in June for the Clippers has some Tribe fans wondering why the Indians' top prospect has not found his way back to the Major Leagues. Yan Gomes has been one of the American League's top catchers so far this year, but Perez has struggled at the plate (.141/.231/.228 in 92 at-bats) as the backup.

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OAKLAND -- While Roberto Perez was guiding Indians starter Trevor Bauer through another solid start on Friday night, catching prospect Francisco Mejia was continuing his torrid streak at the plate for Triple-A Columbus. Mejia collected four hits, marking his seventh multi-hit game in a row.

Mejia's incredible offensive showing in June for the Clippers has some Tribe fans wondering why the Indians' top prospect has not found his way back to the Major Leagues. Yan Gomes has been one of the American League's top catchers so far this year, but Perez has struggled at the plate (.141/.231/.228 in 92 at-bats) as the backup.

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Indians manager Terry Francona emphasized again on Saturday that Perez's worth extends beyond the batter's box.

"We signed Roberto to a four-year contract," Francona said. "And it's not just your batting average. We'd love all our guys to be hitting .300 -- that'd be great. But you're talking about running a staff, doing all the things that 'Berto has taken the time to learn. Now, I don't want to [downplay what Mejia is doing]. I'm thrilled the kid Mejia is doing what he's doing, because I think we all feel like this kid's going to help us.

Video: CWS@CLE: Tribe turn strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out DP

"The other thing is you've got a young kid. You don't want him to come up and sit the bench. That's not developing. On the flip side of that, we called him up for that one day, because we thought it might give him a shot in the arm. He wasn't doing very good, and then he took off. So, maybe that helped."

Since his one-day stint in the Majors on June 11, the 22-year-old Mejia -- rated as the top-ranked catching prospect in baseball, per MLB Pipeline -- has hit .500 with a 1.301 OPS in 16 games. Through 23 games in June, the switch-hitter had a .457 average and a 1.192 OPS with 17 multi-hit games.

Mejia was batting .178 with a .513 OPS after an 0-for-5 showing on May 24, but has hit at a .443 (1.167 OPS) since then in 116 plate appearances. On the year, he is batting .287 with seven homers, 18 doubles, 26 runs and 38 RBIs in 66 games for Columbus.

Due to having Gomes and Perez in the big leagues, Mejia has split his time between catching (35 starts) and the outfield (20 starts) this season. Francona reminded that Mejia's transition to the outfield remains a work in progress.

"He's not ready," Francona said. "But I think there was some talk of trying to play him a little bit more, maybe with trying to have next year be an option. Like, when you go into the winter, at least having it be an option. The hard thing is he really wants to be a catcher. And I understand that. We're trying to tell him, 'Hey, we think you're a good catcher, but if you can do this, you might get to the big leagues quicker.' Until a kid's sold on it, though, I'm not sure."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook

Cleveland Indians, Francisco Mejia

Tribe 'pen takes another blow: Marshall hits DL

Right-hander Kontos called up from Triple-A; Indians sign two Draft picks