If Ryan Raburn continues to struggle, Cleveland Indians prospect Tyler Holt should be the next guy in line to provide outfield help
If the Cleveland Indians have any chance to be an above-average defensive team, manager Terry Francona would be wise to shrink his bullpen in favor of defensive proficient outfield prospect Tyler Holt.
Holt saw his first big league action with the Tribe last season, hitting .268/.307/.296 with two doubles and a pair of RBIs. He played 36 games with Cleveland and, appearing in at least one game at all three outfield positions, and impressed with his fancy glove work. In Cactus League play, Holt hit .262 with two extra-base hits and eight RBIs. The 25-year-old former Florida State Seminole also stole three bases and added eight runs in a productive effort.
Former Astros and Mariners scout Bernie Pleskoff called Holt an “underrated player” this spring, tweeting:
Holt was optioned to Triple-A and will start the season manning a potent Columbus outfield with Carlos Moncrief and James Ramsey. Holt played extremely well in Columbus last season, hitting a career-best .308 with 15 doubles. He stole 31 total bases between Triple-A and Double-A in 2014 and was caught stealing just six times.
But Holt is known more for his defensive prowess, which is an area of (dyer) need for the Tribe this season. He has incredible range at all three outfield positions and, quite frankly, is a better baseball player than Ryan Raburn – and probably David Murphy, too. He gives the Tribe a right-handed bat on days they face left-handed pitching, but he also provides manager Terry Francona with a late-inning defensive substitution who can do this:
Should Raburn continue to struggle the way he did last season — and on opening night — the Indians would be wise to cut their losses and give Holt a shot at a full-time role. Unlike Raburn, even if Holt’s offensive game wavers, he is more than capable of saving runs on the defensive side.
While he may have to outperform both Ramsey and Moncrief in order to earn the first nod to Cleveland, Holt is probably the best bet to play a regular role in the Indians’ outfield this season.