Cleveland Indians Option Lonnie Chisenhall to Columbus; Recall Giovanny Urshela


Cleveland Indians make surprising change at third base

The Cleveland Indians have finally seen enough of Lonnie Chisenhall in the everyday lineup, as the team has optioned him to Triple-A Columbus. He will join Jose Ramirez who was also optioned after last night’s gameGiovanny Urshela will be recalled to take Lonnie Chisenhall’s place, and Zach Walters will be up taking the place of Jose Ramirez.

For the time being both Chisenhall and Ramirez will look to improve offensively.  The Indians have gotten some of the worst offensive production in the majors from the left side of the infield.  In fact, Tribe third basemen have the fourth lowest wRC+ among all major league teams. Shortstop has been even worse overall as their combined -0.7 fWAR at the position has been the absolute worst in all of baseball.

This is not what most Tribe fans expected after the breakout offensive year Chisenhall had in 2014 when he .280 with a 121 wRC+.  Ramirez has been even more disappointing as he has not only failed to hit even .200 this year, but his defense, which was a godsend last year, has been a real Achilles heel for him this year at shortstop. Yes, defensive metrics aren’t full-proof in small samples sizes but Ramirez just hasn’t looked the same out there.

Replacing Chisenhall at third base will be prospect Giovanny Urshela.  Urshela had a breakout season of his own in 2014 with the Columbus Clippers. After starting the year with the Akron Rubberducks, Urshela quickly was promoted to the Clippers were he hit .276 with an .804 OPS and 13 home runs. Throughout his minor league career, Urshela’s calling card has been his plus-defense at third base, something that should be a huge lift to an Indians ballclub that is not exactly known for its stout defense.  One downside with Urshela is his plate discipline. While he’s not a big strikeout guy he also rarely walks. Only once in the last five minor league seasons has he had a walk rate over four percent.

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Also joining Urshela in Cleveland will be Zach Walters, which may come as a bit of a letdown to many fans who were hoping to see top prospect Francisco Lindor finally make his debut.  Walters, though, can play shortstop, second base, third base, and both corner outfield positions. He’ll likely serve as a super utility guy with Mike Aviles getting the bulk of the playing time at shortstop, as he did this past week as well.  Walters is known for his power but plate discipline can still be an issue.

It remains to be seen how long the Cleveland Indians plan to stick with the current roster setup. Will Chisenhall’s trip to Columbus be a short one or can Urshela claim third base as his own?  And how much longer will the Indians keep Lindor in Triple-A?

Only time will tell but I know I, for one, am very interested in seeing how the new reinforcements take to their promotions, specifically Urshela who will be making his major league debut.

Next: What does the Jose Ramirez demotion mean for the Cleveland Indians