Cleveland Indians: Prospects that hopefully dodge being traded in 2018
By Andrew Zubin
The Cleveland Indians bullpen has left a lot to be desired lately. This downturn has caused Indians fans to start clamoring for a trade to help bolster the ‘pen. There are a few prospects the Indians should hold onto.
The Cleveland Indians used some of their top prospects in 2016 to land Andrew Miller, and people are hoping there is another move like that coming before the July 31 trade deadline.
While I tend to agree that the Indians will make a move, I think there are a few prospects the Indians shouldn’t trade.
I’ll start with the obvious choice, Francisco Mejia. Mejia, according to MLB.com prospect watch, is the number one ranked catching prospect. He’s a switch-hitter with a very strong arm. MLB.com has Mejia with a 60 hit-tool, which grades out to above average. Offense from the catching position has always been looked at as an added bonus.
He has hit at every stop in his career as shown by his career .286 batting average in the minors. The average has been pulled down this season due to his slow start at Columbus, but I fully expect him to start producing at a high level soon.
The issue facing Mejia right now is where does he play when he comes to the majors. The Indians have two catchers, in Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez, that they like. Neither has produced offensively like the Indians would like, but they both play well behind the plate. Gomes is signed through 2021 and Perez through 2022.
Even though the Indians have two guys in front of him it shouldn’t be looked at as an issue. They have tried Mejia at other positions, but I hope they leave him at catcher. It allows the Indians to leave Mejia in Columbus until they feel he is completely ready. My hope is the Indians don’t panic and make a deal involving Mejia at the deadline.
According to MLB.com, McKenzie is the number 23 prospect in all of baseball. McKenzie is a 20-year-old hard throwing right-handed pitcher. The Indians drafted him in 2015 in the supplemental first round.
Since joining the Indians minor league system he has done nothing but strike batters out. Last season, in High-A Lynchburg at the age of 19, he struck out 186 batters in 143 innings. He also displays excellent control of his pitches. He only walked 45 batters last season. The upside potential on McKenzie is through the roof.
The early knock on McKenzie is his size. He’s 6-foot-5 but weighs only 165 pounds. The fact that he’s only 20 lends itself to being able to build out his frame as he grows into his body. If he’s able to get stronger and add some muscle there’s no reason to think he couldn’t add some velocity to his pitches.
Even though he started this season on the disabled list with a sore forearm, there’s no reason to believe he won’t pick up right where he left off when he gets healthy. McKenzie is a name that will be thrown around with any trade the Indians are involved with.
Most casual fans probably haven’t heard the name Shane Bieber. He won’t show up on any preseason top 100 prospect list, in fact they might think of another Bieber before this guy, but don’t sell the Indians’ Bieber short. He can dance around batters.
As my fellow colleague Brandon Kring stated in an article earlier this year, Bieber has burst onto the scene quickly. In his first three seasons with the Tribe he has exhibited amazing control. He has only walked 15 batters in 241 career innings. He also has a career WHIP of just a shade over 1.00.
In five starts at Double-A Akron, before being called up to Triple-A Columbus, he had 30 strikeouts and one walk in 31 innings. For his career he has an almost 15:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Next: Early look at the bullpen trade market
Although Adam Plutko got the first call for a spot start this season, Bieber isn’t too far behind him. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Bieber get a start at some point this season.