On the Cusp: Cleveland Indians
In this series, Bernie Pleskoff takes a team-by-team look at which top prospects are poised to make a contribution at the big league level in 2015.
The Indians enter Spring Training hoping several highly regarded regulars return to form after injuries. The are counting on Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher and Jason Kipnis to shake the injury bug and help lead the team to the next level.
Clearly there are top prospects on the cusp of graduation to the big leagues with a chance to help. The club's early performance should go a long way in bringing the prospect picture to focus.
Here are the Indians prospects I think have a chance to make an impact in Cleveland in 2015, listed by their rankings in the Indians Top 20 Prospects list.
Francisco Lindor | SS | 5-foot-11, 190 pounds | No. 1
The Indians have to be happy with the job Jose Ramirez did at shortstop following the trade of Asdrubal Cabrera. But the switch-hitting Lindor is the team's shortstop of the future. A gifted athlete, defensively, Lindor is ready for prime time. The only issue may be his bat. He may need additional repetition against quality pitching at the highest level of the Indians' organization. Lindor should produce runs from the top of the order with good speed, contact hitting and plate discipline. The added bonus may be emerging pop in his bat that could take him from hitting doubles to more home runs along the way.
James Ramsey | OF | 6-feet, 200 pounds | No. 5
The left-handed-hitting Ramsey was traded to the Indians for Justin Masterson. A very good athlete, Ramsey has hit everywhere he has played since turning professional. An excellent contact hitter who uses the entire field, Ramsey can play any of the three outfield positions, making him a versatile option if help is needed. An intelligent player, Ramsey will do whatever it takes to help his club. Even though no particular tool stands out, Ramsey showed me plenty of offense when I scouted him in the 2013 Arizona Fall League.
Jesus Aguilar | 1B | 6-foot-3, 250 pounds | No. 9
The solidly built right-handed-hitting Aguilar waits his chance to get sustained Major League at-bats. He may have to be a bit more patient, as the Indians have options at first base and designated hitter. Aguilar's best tool is his power. He hit 19 homers at Triple-A Columbus last year. With big league power in demand, Aguilar has a chance to help the Major League club, especially since they need some pop from the right-handed batter's box.
Giovanny Urshela | 3B | 6-feet, 215 pounds | No. 12
Returning from an injured knee may cause the Indians to be a bit cautious with Urshela during the spring. The right-handed hitter has plus offensive skills and was highly scouted in his native Colombia. He is an exciting player with an ability to play defense as well as hit for average with power. He makes good contact, but could stand to see more pitches per at-bat. Urshela could be a future star.
Carlos Moncrief | OF | 6-feet, 220 pounds | No. 15
A crowded organizational outfield has Moncrief in a bit of a holding pattern. The left-handed hitter hit .271 last year at Triple-A Columbus. Capable of hitting low double-digit home runs, he may serve as an emergency replacement if needed this coming season.
Tony Wolters | C | 5-foot-10, 200 pounds | No. 17
Selected as a shortstop, Wolters and the Indians quickly realized depth at that position would not favor Wolters going forward. He became a catcher. His mechanics are solid, he calls a good game, but his bat may be lacking, resulting in him being a backup in the big leagues. Scrappy and unselfish, Wolters provides good catching insurance for the club.
Tyler Holt | OF | 5-foot-10, 190 pounds | Unranked
The right-handed-hitting Holt got some playing time for the Indians last season. He doesn't have a large frame and his power is limited, but he does make contact and can spray the ball all over the field. Holt is a scrappy guy with the ability to see lots of pitches, take a walk or provide a clutch hit when needed. A solid baseball player, Holt can steal a base when needed and provide a spark.
Some may wonder why infielder/outfielder Zach Walters is not listed. He exceeded his rookie eligibility in the 2014 season. However, Walters could certainly contribute to the Major League club at some point.