CLEVELAND -- Aaron Civale wasn’t on many people’s 2019 radars heading into the season, but the 24-year-old has quickly emerged to be one of the most valuable players on the Indians roster.
Civale started the year at Double-A Akron, made a quick pit stop at Triple-A Columbus and has since been an importance piece in the Tribe’s starting rotation. MLB Pipeline has recognized his incredibly quick rise, naming Civale Cleveland’s Minor League Pitching Prospect of the Year while slugger Bobby Bradley took home the top hitting honors.
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.
Civale, the team’s 24th-ranked prospect, was part of the 2016 MLB Draft class that also brought Zach Plesac and Shane Bieber to the Indians organization. He spent all of 2018 in Akron and made his first five starts of the ’19 season there, posting a 2.67 ERA, before moving to Columbus for two outings. It was then that the Indians needed a spot starter in place of an injured Mike Clevinger, and Civale was their best option.
In his debut on June 22, he tossed six shutout innings against the Tigers with three walks and six strikeouts on 87 pitches.
“The one thing that I’ve been impressed with with everybody that’s come up is they seem to have poise,” Indians manager Terry Francona said after Civale’s first outing. “That’s not easy to do under today’s circumstances for that kid.”
Civale rejoined the Indians starting rotation on a permanent basis on Aug. 5 after Danny Salazar was sidelined with a groin strain, and the rookie has yet to allow more than two earned runs through his first eight big league starts.
“He’s not afraid, he competes,” Francona said. “He’s got really good movement on his offspeed pitches, especially. … He just throws strikes, he can elevate that fastball, I think he’s got some life through the zone on his fastball that plays up a little bit more than it shows on the gun and he can spin the ball and he throws a changeup.”
But Civale isn’t the only young face to walk into the Tribe’s clubhouse this season. Through the number of injuries that the Indians have been dealt, guys like Jefry Rodriguez, Plesac, Yu Chang, Civale and Oscar Mercado have all contributed at the Major League level this year. And while his time may have been brief, the power-hitting Bradley also got his first taste of competing at the highest level.
On June 23, Bradley, the club’s No. 7 overall prospect, was called up to the big leagues for the first time, playing in 15 games. He logged a .178 batting average, a .600 OPS, recorded five doubles and launched one homer.
“I mean we brought Bobby Bradley up for a week or 10 days,” Francona said. “Guys that we think are potentially gonna be our future, if we have a need, we’ve gone with some young guys just to let them see so the next time they come, they won’t have all the firsts that come with being here, all the nervousness and stuff like that.”
His stats may not have jumped off the paper in his limited time with the Tribe, but they certainly did in his first full season with Columbus. In 107 regular-season games, the first baseman hit .264 with a .912 OPS and a staggering 33 home runs and 74 RBIs.
While Civale’s impact on the Tribe has already been made, there’s no doubt that the team will take a good, long look at Bradley when everyone rolls into Goodyear, Ariz., next February for Spring Training.
“We all see the potential,” Francona said. “The first 20 [big league] at-bats were hard for him. Then he started to catch fire and the [All-Star] break came. That’s understandable. But there’s some sock in that bat, that’s for sure. He’s going to be a good power hitter.”