Minor League Report: 3 Cleveland Indians prospects who were hot in June
If you take nothing else from this piece, know that it isn’t always the top prospects of the Cleveland Indians that perform well. They can have cold months too. With five minor league levels now active, there’s plenty of players making their mark. Oh, and Oscar Gonzalez should probably be on the Cleveland Indians top prospect list.
The Cleveland Indians signed Oscar Gonzalez back in 2014 when he was just 16-years old. He’s worked his way through each minor league team, joining the Akron Rubberducks toward the end of the 2019 season. After no minors in 2020, Gonzalez rejoined Akron in 2021 and he’s been rather impressive with the team.
This past month, the 23-year-old right fielder slashed a powerful .379/.410/.674 across 24 games. He also blasted five home runs and drove in 20 RBIs for the Indians’ Double-A affiliate. His explosive month gave him the Rubberducks’ highest OPS (1.084), slugging percentage and batting average. Only Will Benson bested his on-base percentage and it was only by four-thousandths of a point.
What’s crazy about Gonzalez’s month and recent performance in the minors is that he isn’t a member of Cleveland’s top prospect list. He was No. 29 prior to last season when his offensive numbers were lower. Since, he’s upped every one of his stats at the plate, and he’s put on 60 pounds while growing two inches. His development — and growth — clearly isn’t done.
Logan T. Allen
Not the Logan Allen that was shelled by the Detroit Tigers in Tuesday’s doubleheader. Rather, Logan T. Allen of the Lake County Captains. Allen was Cleveland’s second-round pick in the 2020 MLB Draft out of Florida International (FIU) and hasn’t lost a game yet in the minors.
He started four games in June, and recorded a 2.66 ERA across 23.2 innings. On June 11, he struck out eight batters against Fort Wayne, finishing the month with a team-leading 31 total strikeouts. The lefty has an ETA of 2023, per MLB.com, and sits as the club’s No. 22 prospect on the Top 30 prospect list.
His WHIP sits slightly above one, and he walks half as many batters as he allows hits, but he finished June with an insane 11.79 strikeouts per nine innings. Batters hit below the Mendoza line against him, and to be averaging 5.8 innings per start in high-A baseball is impressive. Keep an eye on this one as he finishes out the season.
Yainer Diaz, like Gonzalez, was an international free agent from the Dominican Republic signed when he was just 17-years old. The catcher dominated in Virginia with the Low-A Lynchburg Hillcats during the month of June.
He slashed .329/.360/.494 while also managing an .854 OPS, good enough for second in June on the roster behind teammate Angel Martinez. He had 28 hits over 21 games, and led the team with 16 RBIs. The baseball gods were kind to Diaz, however, as his BaBIP soared to .413 in 89 plate appearances last month, but you take what you can get in baseball.
He did strike out 20 times, giving him a strikeout rate of over 20%. Coupled with a walk rate of just 4.5%, it was a boom or bust month for Diaz. But his six doubles and one triple allowed him to lead Lynchburg’s offense through June.
Honorable mention: Connor Marabell
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Connor Marabell might just have to live in the shadows of Nolan Jones and Gabriel Arias this season. But his performance in June shows he can ball out, even as a 27-year-old system filler. It’s always nice to see guys like this show out, even if their dream of becoming a major leaguer may be quickly fading.
He slashed .304/.371/.430 and drove in 17 RBIs, had 24 hits in 25 games and struck out at just an 18% clip. The only hole to be found in his month is the fact that the Jacksonville, Florida native was 0-for-2 on stolen base attempts.
Marabell is an outfielder, which could help his case toward the end of the season when Cleveland decides who to call up, but he’s not on the 40-man roster. Drafted in the 25th round of the 2015 MLB Draft, Marabell has just never made the sort of impact to warrant his call up. Why give him a chance when you could call up Daniel Johnson or Oscar Mercado. Submit more months like June, though, and he’ll force Cleveland’s hand.