Cleveland Indians: 3 Tribe prospects off to slow starts

The minor league season is over a week old and some Cleveland Indians prospects have not gotten off to a great start in 2018.

After going over some of the Tribe’s high performing prospects so far this season, now we take a look at some of the ones with underwhelming starts to the season. Although this is very early in what will be a long season, a hot start can be a great boost and give the Cleveland Indians a good first impression on a prospect’s season.

Bobby Bradley

The first week has been abysmal for the highly touted first baseman. The Tribe’s third best prospect according to MLB Pipeline is in Double-A with the Akron Rubberducks and it’s not looking good.

Through eight games, Bradley has 30 at bats with only two hits. That makes for a .067 batting average. One his two hits is a home run, so there’s that, but he’s a big power, low batting average kind of guy. But not that low. He’s struck out 12 times in his 30 ABs, enough for a 40% strikeout rate.

Bradley is slow and doesn’t bring much value defensively. He’s one of those three true outcome corner infielders. He will hit home runs, strike out a lot, draw a bunch of walks, and hit for a low average. Unfortunately for Bradley, that type of player is getting valued less and less in today’s game. Although it’s early in the season, it’s not a positive sign of things to come for the 21 year old.

Willi Castro

Castro is also in Double-A Akron and has gotten off to a slow start, albeit a better one than Bradley’s. The 20 year old switch hitting shortstop is the team’s fifth best prospect and has a bright future ahead of him.

But so far this year, in 29 at bats over 8 games, Castro has a .172/.250/.207 slash line. He’s drawn five hits and has struck out 14 times. That gives him a 48% strikeout percentage. That’s basically half his at-bats so far he hasn’t even been able to put the ball in play.

It’s early I know, but that’s a very high percentage of strikeouts. He projects to have an above average hit tool in the major leagues with not as much power. So that should balance out eventually. He’s also speedy and can play a pretty good shortstop. Although the odds of him finding a starting job in Cleveland at that position are not very good right now with the presence of Francisco Lindor.

Yu-Cheng Chang

Chang is the Tribe’s sixth ranked prospect and, like Castro, is a shortstop. Chang is starting the year in Triple-A with the Columbus Clippers, and his start is similar to what Castro is going through, although with less strikeouts.

Through eight games, Chang has a .133/.235/.167 slash line over 30 at bats with only four hits to show for it. He’s struck out nine times, which is less than Bradley and Castro, but is also a 30% strikeout clip, which is not good. He struck out at a 26% clip in Double-A, so these numbers might not fall back all that much.

He has solid power but doesn’t hit for a high average and is a decent defender. But once again, with Lindor entrenched at shortstop, Chang is going to have to either move positions or change organizations. With the stacked infield depth the Cleveland Indians currently have, it will be tough to find a long term spot for Chang, even if he turns things around this season.

The Cleveland Indians farm system has some decent prospects at the top, but three of the top six are off to rough starts and, while it’s not crippling, it’s not exactly best-case scenario either.