3 Cleveland Indians prospects who could benefit from a Cleveland trade
For this list, we’re going off the MLB.com Top 30 prospect list for the Cleveland Indians. Obviously, trading a star player benefits the younger and/or minor league guys behind them. Roberto Perez on the trading block clearly would warrant a call up for Wilson Ramos. But if the point of selling at this week’s trade deadline is to give your talent opportunities to play, journeymen Triple-A stand outs shouldn’t be getting the call to the show.
Selling is a crummy concept. It stinks and it confirms the inevitability of at least a few years of subpar play with little hope for a playoff appearance. The one silver lining, however, in trading away a team’s remaining players that resemble major league talent is the prospect to see, well, prospects. Like, the good ones. The ones Cleveland fans have been fawning over for multiple years. The potential departure (however believable) of Jose Ramirez, Shane Bieber, Perez or Cesar Hernandez could pave the way for the next round of Indians players to cement themselves in the majors.
These three prospects could benefit from an Indians trade:
Cleveland Indians No. 16 Prospect Owen Miller (INF)
Acquired in the Mike Clevenger trade, the No. 16 prospect tore up Triple-A before his call up earlier this summer. The free swinging middle infielder with long blonde hair was highly anticipated when he made his debut. There was talk that he could easily slot in to replace Hernandez.
Then he struck out 24 times in 47 at bats, only finding five hits and three walks. A .106 batting average warranted a demotion. But in Columbus, he’s back to absolutely punishing minor league pitching. On Saturday, he collected two hits and moved his slugging percentage to .500.
In Cleveland, Owen Miller was unable to find consistent at-bats after two starts against Baltimore. An at-bat here and there combined with throwing him in at first base just to get him in the game was visibly altering to someone who had the sport figured out in the minors.
Hernandez is more likely to be traded and Miller could finally find himself in the lineup. I’m a big believer that these fresh faces need consistent time on the field. It’s difficult to get into a routine when you’re not really given a chance.
Cleveland Indians No. 5 Prospect Gabriel Arias (SS)
I mean, come on. Gabriel Arias is flat out raking in Columbus. He is undoubtedly the future for Cleveland behind the dish. In his last 30 games with the Clippers, he’s slashing an insane .319/.374/.487.
It’s difficult to gage whether or not Cleveland will pick up the $6 million team option for Hernandez going into 2022 if he’s kept. If Arias continues his domination of Triple-A, he should align with MLB.com’s estimated ETA of next season. Bringing him up after a Hernandez trade for the final few months of the season can give him that taste of major league pitching before his first full season with the big leagues.
Unlike Miller, I’m not concerned about inconsistent at-bats disrupting Arias’s flow since he’s so young. His arm is graded at 75 out of 80 in his scouting report. What an absurd rating for a prospect that’s just 21-years old.
The big question is always if prospects can make that big jump against the best pitchers in the world. What better way to find out than during the first few months of a rebuild after a Hernandez trade. That experience with no real pressure of making a playoff push could be huge for Arias’s development.
Cleveland Indians No. 29 Prospect Ernie Clement
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Much like Miller, I want to see Ernie Clement in the lineup more. Technically, he’s still listed as a top prospect — No. 29 — but has been with the Indians since mid-June. Clement is a throwback player, stirrups and all, but he can fit in with the new-age Cleveland Guardians.
His scouting profile says he projects more as a utility man. I’d agree, but if Miller slides in at second and Clement takes over for a recently-traded Ramirez, the front office could really figure out what he’s like at the big league level.
Maybe the most Clement has to benefit is the opportunity to find his niche. Maybe he’s that late-inning defensive substitute with impeccable defense. Maybe he’s a speedy guy to pinch run.
Unfortunately, a guy like Clement can quickly fade out of favor with major league ball clubs. His average has dipped slowly as he’s progressed. It’s still serviceable, but opening up the roster for him to see the field and showcase his skills could be crucial. Not many guys like him get everyday opportunities. Why not parlay that time into a permanent spot on big league rosters?
Something to note:
I think Nolan Jones gets called up in September regardless of the state of the Indians. I also think he’ll start 2022 on the major league roster. It’s not too out of left field to say he could be a starter as soon as next April. So yes, Jones would benefit from a middle infielder trade. But I think if he continues to prove himself at Columbus, he’ll find ways to get into games before this season concludes.