Merritt, Ramsey and Gonzalez Are Legit
I left both Ryan Merritt and James Ramsey off my top 10 list but Katrina and Nicolas had both of them in theirs, while Erik Gonzalez made mine and Katrina’s lists. I considered both of these guys as the 8-15 of the Indians system is really hard to sort through. Lots of solid talent that could be ranked in a multitude of ways. Ryan Merritt made headlines recently by throwing a 7-inning no-hitter for the Akron Rubberducks. He is coming off a breakout season in 2014 when he won the Bob Feller Award as the best Tribe pitching prospect and was even added to the Indians 40-man roster this offseason.
A former 16th round pick back in 2011, Merritt has been rising slowly but steadily through the ranks. He’s not flashy by any measure the small lefty is having yet another solid season. The strikeouts have really dropped off (under six per nine innings), but he’s averaging 6.1 innings per start and has a solid 3.73 ERA and 3.44 FIP. His ceiling is nowhere near the likes of Aiken, Sheffield or McKenzie but one can’t ignore the results Merritt is getting. The Indians also didn’t just add him to the 40-man roster for no good reason. He’s a guy that could help the Indians in the back of the rotation as soon as next season.
James Ramsey is a guy I really like and wanted to include in my top 10. He’s got the ability to play CF, which instantly adds value and his walk rate hasn’t dipped below 11% since being drafted in the first round back in 2012 (by the Cardinals). He’s got less speed than Tyler Naquin but also more power and a better offensive season thanks to his ability to draw a walk. Like Naquin, he’s a guy that could very well see Cleveland before the year is out. Some like him more than Naquin and I can see why.
Erik Gonzalez is a very good SS prospect that has risen fast in the Tribe system. Recently promoted to Triple-A Columbus, he’s part of what may be the best defensive double play combo in the minor leagues with Jose Ramirez at 2B. He made a name for himself back in 2013 with the Lake County Captains hitting nine homeruns and playing stellar defense. In less than two years he’s already made the jump to the Triple-A. The real question with Gonzalez is going to be how much will he hit? This will determine if he’ll be a starting big league SS or a utility player. With Lindor in Cleveland things could get tough for Gonzalez in the Indians organization as well. There’s some that think he could slide to 3B and while his glove would play well there, the question of how much power you’ll get and his bat is a real concern.
Gonzalez was added to the Tribe’s 40-man roster prior to the 2013 season (to the surprise of many I might add). Even with his struggles offensively in Columbus I still wouldn’t be completely shocked if he made an appearance with the Indians this season once roster expand in September. He provides some speed (12 SB) and good defense on the infield.
Next: Papi, Aguilar and Paulino Make the Grade Too