Our Cleveland Indians top prospect countdown is complete but here are ten more prospects that fans should know entering the 2017 season.
For the last month, we’ve done our Cleveland Indians 2017 top prospect countdown. From Logan Ice to Bradley Zimmer, we went in-depth with all our top 30 prospects and even named ten other prospects to our just missed list.
However, there are still plenty of prospects that are names to follow and here are 10 names I think fans should know and pay attention to going into 2017 (listed in alphabetical order).
Shawn Armstrong – RHP
Shawn Armstrong is easily the most recognizable name on this list. He’s spent parts of the last two seasons in Cleveland but has maintained his prospect (and rookie) eligibility.
He’s appeared in 18 games with the Indians the last two years, posting a 2.41 ERA. In the minors, Armstrong has shown an aptitude for strikeouts. In 263 1/3 innings, he’s struck out 357 batters (12.2 per nine innings).
The problem with Armstrong, and why he didn’t appear on our top prospect countdown, is that with the strikeouts, comes a ton of walks. He’s walked 135 batters in his six minor league seasons. He struggled even more with walks in 2016, walking over five per nine innings at Triple-A Columbus.
Armstrong did have a very good spring, however, and he won a job with the big league club. He definitely looked better this March, showing more control. If he’s able to carry that over to the regular season then he could finally become a lockdown, late-inning reliever. I still have my doubts with him but there’s no denying he’s got wipeout stuff.
Matt Esparza – RHP
Matt Esparza was a 14th-round pick out of the University of California-Irvine in 2015. Despite average stuff, Esparaza has proven to be a steal at that spot.
He posted a 2.30 ERA in 2015 with Mahoning Valley before posting a 3.36 ERA in 2016 between Lake County and Lynchburg. Most impressive has been the strikeouts. He’s posted a 9.6 strikeout per nine innings ratio in his two professional seasons and led all Tribe minor leaguers with 141 in 2016.
Esparza will head back to Advanced-A Lynchburg to start the 2017 season. If he continues to pitch like he did in 2016, a promotion to Double-A Akron very well could be in his future this summer too.