Cleveland Indians: 3 prospects it’s too early to give up on

Oscar Mercado #35 of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)
Oscar Mercado #35 of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images) /
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Cleveland Indians, Daniel Johnson
Daniel Johnson #23 of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

3 Cleveland Indians prospects it’s too early to give up on

It’s no secret that the Cleveland Indians have a factory somewhere along the Cuyahoga River that churns out elite pitching talent on a conveyor belt. Wait, that’s not how they do that? Could have fooled me, considering three starting pitchers from the same draft in 2016 all debuted within a year of each other between 2018 and 2019.

Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac and Aaron Civale have a combined career ERA of 3.42, with Shane Bieber producing an All-Star appearance in 2019 and the 2020 AL Cy Young Award.

Hitting talent has been fewer and further between, but not entirely nonexistent for Cleveland. The fanbase’s prayers for Bobby Bradley this season have exceeded expectations as the slugging first baseman and notorious three true outcomes ballplayer has slashed a very solid .260/.367/.600 since being called up June 5. Over the past decade, the best example of Cleveland’s ability to develop hitting is far and away Jose Ramirez.

Even more recent for the Indians, the team has seen prospects stuck behind a log jam of roster depth move on and develop elsewhere. Yandy Diaz, Gio Urshela and Francisco Mejia are just a few names that come to mind over the past five or so seasons.

Baseball is a business first and foremost and Cleveland viewed themselves as championship contenders in 2018. So acquiring Brad Hand and Carlos Santana for Francisco Mejia and Yandy Diaz, respectively, wasn’t necessarily a bad move at the time.

Still, one can’t help but wonder what Cleveland would look like today if they’d kept their still developing prospects. In 2021, Carlos Santana and Brad Hand have both moved on from the Tribe, while Urshela, Diaz and Mejia are all finding growth and playing time in the AL East.

It may be unfair to say Cleveland “gave up” on any one of these players considering the window the team was in, but all three were nearly major league ready with offensive output the 2021 club could certainly use.

At 40-31 so far in 2021, with 30 games remaining between now and the July 30th trade deadline, the pace the Tribe is currently on would lead one to believe the team should be buyers at the trade deadline, parting with prospects who have had a taste of the big leagues and profile similarly to Urshela, Diaz and Mejia.

There are exactly three of those prospects that come to mind who have limited major league exposure, mixed results and are far too early in their respective careers to give up on for rental veterans.