Cleveland Indians 2016 Top Prospects: #29 Shawn Morimando

Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports /

Cleveland Indians 2016 Top Prospects: #29 Shawn Morimando

Continuting our Top 30 Cleveland Indians prospect countdown today, we look at our number 29 prospect, left-handed pitcher Shawn Morimando.

Who is Shawn Morimando?

Morimando was drafted out of high school by the Cleveland Indians in the 19th round of the 2011 draft. The Tribe signed him for $350,000, getting him to forego a commitment to play at East Carolina University.  He’s an undersized left-hander, standing at only 5’11” and turned 23 years old this past November.  That was the same time he was added to the Tribe’s 40-man roster, in order to protect him from the 2015 Rule-5 Draft.

Cleveland Indians Shawn Morimando
Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

Strengths and Weaknesses

Morimando has progressed rather nicely for a rather unheralded high school draft pick.  He has a three-pitch mix, throwing a fastball, changeup, and slider (though at times he also has been said to have a “slurvy” curve).  His fastball now sits low-90s and can have some movement, making it tough for hitters to barrel up at times. His changeup develop has been his biggest advancement in the last year as it’s now becoming a plus secondary offering for him. His slider is also still a very solid-to-average secondary pitch.

Despite being undersized he’s been able to eat innings, topping 150 each of the past two seasons while making 28 starts each year.  Despite being the youngest member of the Tribe’s Double-A rotation in Akron, he had a 3.18 ERA, good for the ninth-best in the Eastern League, and a 3.64 FIP.  His 158.2 innings were also the seventh most thrown by an Eastern League pitcher in 2015.  Additionally, he saw his strikeout rate rise to 19.5% (fifth best in the Eastern League), and he held hitters to a .240 batting average against (BAA) in 2015.

More from Away Back Gone

One big issue holding Morimando back though is his control. He walked nearly 10% of hitters last year (9.9%), which as the worst walk-rate in the Eastern League, while his 65 total walks were the second-most in the league. He also threw seven wild pitches (tied for eighth in the league).  It’s this lack of control that keeps Morimando from being a lot higher on this list as for now, at least, it limits his upside as a starting pitcher.

Where Does He Go From Here?

Despite the control issues, there’s a lot to like about Morimando. He’ll only be 23 all season long so he has time to correct these issues. However, the question of whether he’s a starter or a reliever long-term is a valid one.  Odds are the Cleveland Indians will try and keep him in the rotation as long as possible but given the rather insane amount of rotation depth the Tribe currently has in the upper part of the system it’s fair to speculate whether a move to the pen could occur as soon as this year.

Morimando has now spent a year and a half at Double-A Akron, where he’s made 38 starts and thrown 215 innings.  He has a 3.35 ERA at the level, so there’s really not much left to prove there other than work on his control.  However, there’s simply no room (at the moment) in the Columbus rotation so barring a move to the Triple-A bullpen (which I personally think is reasonable move), he seems destined for his third stint with the Rubberducks.

Next: Indians Top Prospect: #30 Willi Castro

Compared to some top prospects lists I may have Morimando a bit low (Baseball America recently ranked him 17th, for example).  However, his lack of control and possible (likely?) move to the bullpen limits his upside in my eyes.  That said, his stuff could really play up in the bullpen and even if he moves there has a chance to be an impactful setup/middle reliever at the big league level, possibly even seeing time late in the season (depending on if the Tribe moves him to the pen or not this year).  The Indians obviously saw enough to feel he warranted a roster spot this offseason so he’s definitely someone they seen in their plans in the coming years.  Whether it’s as a starter or a reliever remains to be seen…