Creating space for Owen Miller to debut with the Cleveland Indians
The No. 16 prospect in the Cleveland Indians organization, Owen Miller has been lighting it up for the Columbus Clippers so far this season. The only catch is that getting him to Cleveland isn’t just a simple call-up. To do that will require a series of moves, beginning with getting Miller added to the 40-man roster. Luckily, the ball is already rolling for that to become a possibility.
On Tuesday (May 18), the Tribe sent down shortstop Andres Gimenez to make room for Jean Carlos Mejia after the bullpen was rather taxed in the first game against the Angles. While that solves the current problem of needing immediate bullpen help, it creates another issue at shortstop.
Amed Rosario got the start on Tuesday night at shortstop, but that takes away from the outfield depth, especially if Jordan Luplow has to miss time due to his recently sustained ankle injury. The only other option on the current roster would be Yu Chang who’s played only 26 innings at shortstop in his major league career.
The clear answer here would be to allow Rosario to fill in full-time while Mejia helps the bullpen catch their breath. Once that’s done the Cleveland Indians could send down Mejia, or a different pitcher, to Columbus and call-up Owen Miller to take over the role that Gimenez played as the shortstop platoon paired with Rosario. The only thing standing in the way is getting Miller added to the 40-man roster.
There’s really only a few options to explore to get that done. The first that wouldn’t require pushing someone through waivers just yet would be to place someone on the 60-day Injured List. Unfortunately, the only player that could maybe fit into that would be Roberto Perez. While Perez could very well be out 60 days, putting him on that list eliminates the possibility of him returning early. Given the recent play from the catcher position for the Tribe, that doesn’t seem like something the club would want to do.
So with that option essentially off the table, the Cleveland Indians would have to remove someone from the 40-man roster and hope they clear waivers to make room for them to add Miller to the roster. Most of the players on the list are prospects as well and/or serve a depth purpose that you really don’t want to lose. However, there is one player that seems expendable based on position depth and has struggled to find his footing not only this season in Columbus, but overall in his career. Bradley Zimmer.
Zimmer is one of three minor league outfielders on the 40-man roster and the big league club already has six outfielders on the active roster if you include the banged up Luplow and shortstop, outfielder hybrid of Rosario. There just doesn’t really seem to be a need for Zimmer in Cleveland and if the team needs an outfielder, there’s simply better options in Columbus.
So far for Columbus this season, Zimmer is batting just .171/.341/.200 over his first 10 games played with just one extra base hit. The potential may still be there, but the time has just run out for him in the organization.
But what about Miller, would all of this be worth it? In a word, yes. Coming to the Cleveland Indians organization as part of the Mike Clevinger trade, this is the first time the Tribe has been able to see Miller play since the move. While it’s only been just about a dozen games, he’s been impressive.
Through his first 11 games of the 2021 season, Miller has been able to put together a slash line of .477/.511/.682, being one hit shy of having a .500 batting average in Triple-A. Of his 21 hits, four have been doubles along with a triple and a home run. He’s also added seven RBI to his stat line.
As for in the field, Miller has played every spot in the infield with second and shortstop tied for the most with three games at each position. Over his time in the field, he only has one error on a total of 43 chances. While that error did come at shortstop, he’s still shown to have a rather steady glove overall.
So while it might take a bit to get Miller in position to be called-up, it’s not only worth it but it makes sense. The Cleveland Indians need another infielder at the major league level and Gimenez struggling, Miller is the clear next man up to get a shot in the big leagues. It could be understood if you want a bigger sample size from him in Columbus, but that might not be an option given what the team needs and how soon it could be needed.