GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians are only a few days into Cactus League play, but let’s take a look at seven names that have already garnered enough attention to keep a close eye on until camp breaks in 3 1/2 weeks.
Gose started to really turn heads at last year’s Spring Training before the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled play. The outfielder-turned-reliever hit 100 mph on the radar gun in 2020 and sat around 97-98 mph in his first Cactus League appearance this year. The Indians -- or any team, for that matter -- would love to carry a hard-throwing lefty in their bullpen, however the 30-year-old will need to show improvement with his command to prove he can pitch at the big league level.
“It's easy to dream,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “The kid, he's got such a big arm. He's added the slider that we really think is going to help him. There were times last year when he had trouble landing his breaking ball. This, he seems to be able to throw for strikes that kind of comes out of the same window of his fastball. So again, there's some hope there that that will also help with some of the consistency.”
The Tribe selected Stephan in the Rule 5 Draft this offseason from the Yankees’ organization. The 25-year-old right-hander made his first appearance for Cleveland on Tuesday, and tossed a 1-2-3 inning with one strikeout, as his heater touched 98 mph. He’s been a starter throughout his Minor League career, but it’s unlikely he’d crack into Cleveland’s rotation. However, if he continues to show that he can command his arsenal, his velocity could make him an option out of the bullpen.
“He threw the ball well and he threw some good sliders,” Francona said. “You can see why some of our scouts that saw this kid liked him. I mean there’s velocity and a breaking ball. It’s going to be a matter of command because guys that age and a lack of experience, they need repetition.”
It’s difficult to get off to a better start in Spring Training than Arias has this year. In his first two games, the 21-year-old went 5-for-5 at the plate with two RBIs and two runs scored. The Indians' No. 6 prospect flashed his arm strength by throwing out a runner at the plate on a relay throw and has played sound defense at short. He may need some more time before he makes his big league debut, but Arias certainly has given fans a reason to be excited for the future.
Bradley’s Minor League numbers have been attention-grabbing over the past few years. His strikeout totals may be high, but the Indians' No. 14 prospect launched 33 homers in 2019 for Triple-A Columbus with 74 RBIs, 46 walks and 23 doubles in 107 games. The Opening Day first-base job will come down to Bradley or Jake Bauers, and Bradley will need to show consistency at the plate over the next few weeks to break camp with the team. It will be a difficult task for the 24-year-old, as Bauers is out of Minor League options.
Allen, the Indians' No. 23 prospect, is competing for the final spot in the Tribe’s rotation. Cal Quantrill and Adam Plutko are his main competition. Allen spent the entire offseason at the Tribe’s Spring Training facility, reworking his mechanics and getting himself into better shape to be a strong contender to be the Indians’ fifth starter. While Quantrill may have been the favorite entering camp, Allen has already proved that it will be a close battle over the next few weeks.
“I’m going to be a little surprised if [Allen] doesn’t make some noise this spring,” Francona said. “I think he’s positioned himself where he’s situated himself for success.”
Giménez has gotten off to a scorching start this spring, going 4-for-4 with a triple and a homer in his first two games. The 22-year-old also showed off his arm by throwing out a runner at the plate on a relay throw from the outfield and has played solid defense thus far. He and Amed Rosario are battling to be the Tribe’s starting shortstop, and while Rosario has more Major League experience, Giménez will try to use the rest of camp to prove that he’s ready to win the everyday job.
Johnson’s name has popped up for the last three springs. Could this finally be the year to break camp with the Tribe? The Indians have a handful of outfielders competing for a spot on the 26-man roster, but Johnson, the Indians' No. 18 prospect, is ready to prove that his speed, athleticism, arm strength and bat are enough to earn him a spot on the Opening Day roster.
“He’s an interesting kid,” Francona said. “There was about a two-day span right at the beginning [of Summer Camp last year] where if you didn't know who our roster was and you look out you would say, 'That's the best player on the field,’ which is exciting. He's only had, I believe, a half a year at Triple-A, or not even. He's still learning about himself, the game. But the tools stand out.”