Cleveland Indians: 3 Tribe prospects off to a hot start

JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 23: Baseballs and a bat sit on the field of the Miami Marlins during a team workout on February 23, 2016 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 23: Baseballs and a bat sit on the field of the Miami Marlins during a team workout on February 23, 2016 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images) /

 The Cleveland Indians minor league season is underway, and after their first week of play, which prospects are already jumping off the page?

The Tribe’s farm system isn’t very highly regarded. Outside of Francisco Mejia and Triston McKenzie, most of the rest of the prospects on their Top 30 list have a bunch of question marks around them.

But these three prospects are trying to answer those question marks and prove to the Cleveland Indians organization that they deserve to be in the big leagues.

Will Benson

Outfielder Will Benson is the Tribe’s 7th rated prospect and has started the year in A-ball with the Lake County Captains. He was the team’s first round pick in 2016 and he’s set out to prove he was worth every bit of that first round pick.

In his first seven games of the season, Benson has hit two homers, with five RBIs, five walks, and a .318 batting average. All of that is to the tune of a 1.119 OPS so far.

Benson has above average power, so the home runs should just keep coming. He also has above average speed and a good throwing arm from the outfield. He’s still just 19 years old, so he may not be making any waves in Cleveland this year, but he has all the tools to be a valuable player for the Tribe in the future.

Aaron Civale

Civale is starting the year in Double-A with the Akron Rubberducks and is the team’s 10th rated prospect according to MLB Pipeline. Civale came out of the same draft that saw Will Benson selected in the first round in 2016. But Civale was taken in the third round out of Northeastern University and could reach the big leagues quicker.

Through two starts this season, Civale has a 0.93 ERA over 9.2 innings pitched with 11 strikeouts and allowing only two walks. Opponents are hitting just .220 against him.

Civale has a devastating fastball-slider combo. His changeup and curveball could use some more refinement, however. The quickest path for Civale to get to the big leagues is as a reliever. He’s got two plus pitches in his arsenal. He needs either his changeup or curveball to develop into a regular offering for him to stick as a starter. For now, the Indians want to stay the course with him as a starter and let him develop.

Sam Hentges

Hentges is with the High-A Lynchburg Hillcats to start the 2018 season and is the Indians 17th rated prospect. Drafted in the fourth round in 2014 out high school, Hentges has been one of the youngest players on the minor league circuit. Now 21 years old, he’s ready to begin a fully healthy season after undergoing Tommy John surgery that took out most of his 2016 and some of his 2017 season.

Through Hentges’ first two starts, he has a 0.90 ERA over 10 innings with nine punchouts and two walks. He’s been able to stymie opposing hitters and keep them at a .171 batting average.

The 6’6″ lefty has a ton of potential in his big frame and the Cleveland Indians are definitely excited about his development this year. He has a really good fastball-curveball combination, but his changeup and his command needs a little more work. He could end up being special down the road if everything falls into place.

Next: Previewing upcoming series against Blue Jays

The Cleveland Indians should be in good hands in the future should some of these players work out. But prospects are not sure things, and some teams have learned that the hard way.