Cleveland Indians: Way-too-early Spring Training takeaways

Manager Terry Francona #17 of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Manager Terry Francona #17 of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
Cleveland Indians
Shane Bieber #57 of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

Cleveland Indians takeaways from Spring Training

The Spring Training season for the Cleveland Indians is less than a handful of games old, but we’re already starting to get a small sample size of the what the team will look like in the coming year. It’s still a bit odd to look at the lineup and not see names like Carlos Santana or Francisco Lindor, but the new wave of youth has already started to show flashes.

One takeaway from the first few games has been the play of Gabriel Arias, one of the players acquired in the Clevinger trade this past season. With two games under his belt, Arias has gone 5-for-5 thus far, tallying two RBI and two runs. While the middle infield seems to be locked down for now with Cesar Hernandez, Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario among others, the flashes from Arias are a great sign for the future.

That brings us to Gimenez who played well in his one game of action. In his two at-bats, Gimenez logged a hit in each, including a triple and an RBI. While we might expect triples from Gimenez, the other triple on the stat sheet so far this spring might come as a surprise. Franmil Reyes showcased his wheels already this year with the other triple on the box score.

The next takeaway is one that most fans of the Cleveland Indians have been awaiting, and that’s Bobby Bradley. With the departure of Santana, first base is one the positions that is up for grabs this spring and Bradley quickly made an impact. Having just two at-bats so far, Bradley has already belted the lone home run for the Tribe this spring.

Known for his power in the minors, the early home run is a good sign from Bradley but what he has been able to do in the field is just as assuring. His defensive play looks improved after a few web gems-quality plays. If he can prove that he can play a strong first base on top of having his power, then he should take over the first base position this season.

One more offensive takeaway is one that we saw flashes of last year but are now seeing that it wasn’t a fluke and that’s the bat of Josh Naylor. Naylor struggled a bit when he arrived in Cleveland, but started to catch on at the end of the season. It looks like that’s extending into the spring too, now with two doubles in three at-bats along with three RBI as well.

Now moving to the pitchers, we’re yet to see anyone pitch in a second game, but the first game is enough for a way-too-early takeaway. We finally got to see Emmanuel Clase is a Cleveland uniform and while he allowed a run, it was still nice to finally see.

Looking at the rest of the pitchers, it seems like the best outing of the group has come from Kyle Nelson. Pitching an inning, Nelson was able to strikeout two of the three batters he faced, not allowing a runner to reach base in the inning. We saw Nelson last year for 0.2 innings and he allowed four runs on three hits, so hopefully this is a sign of things to come from the 24-year old left-handed reliever.

Nelson was one of three pitchers to pitch a runner-less inning for the Indians, being joined by Nick Wittgren and Trevor Stephan as well. Stephan was the Rule-5 selection for the Tribe while Wittgren is one of the players in the conversation for the closer role this year.

We have plenty of Spring Training left to play this year, but the early bright spots are good signs for an Indians club that has mixed expectations. The positions that have the largest question marks are the ones that have had the best results in the early return.

The infield, with the exception of third base, is up the air but the play of Arias and Bradley have been reassuring for not only this season, but the future as well. As for the pitchers, seeing multiple relievers toss strong innings is a refreshing sign to a bullpen that lost multiple pieces.

In a nutshell, it’s still too early to feel one way or the other, but the early signs do seem to be positive. It will be an uphill battle for the Tribe this season convincing fans that the team is ready to compete, but Spring Training is starting that conversation early.

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