2 Columbus Clippers bright spots that should finish 2021 with the Cleveland Indians
As we head down the stretch of the 2021 season, the Cleveland Indians are in an interesting position. While the postseason seems like a long shot, it’s not completely out of reach. In the same instance, the team needs to find answers for the future. Take into account the fact that rosters will expand soon and it’s really just a guessing game for how the front office will navigate the last month-plus of the season.
Luckily, the Tribe have a couple players that could assist both sides of the equation. They’ve impressed enough to deserve a shot to prove themselves in the majors, but they also could fill holes in Cleveland. The biggest issue is that neither one is on the 40-man roster.
Currently, the Tribe have 39 players on the 40-man roster with a few players set to come back soon from the 60-day injured list. That means that adding these players could get a little hairy, especially with the 40-man decisions that will need to happen prior to the Rule 5 Draft. However, it’s still worth the consideration to try and figure out a way for these two to break into the big leagues.
Anthony Gose, LHP
It’s an interesting story of how Anthony Gose got to Columbus. At 31-years old, he was originally drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the second round of the 2018 MLB Draft — as an outfielder. In fact, it wasn’t until the 2017 season, at the age of 26, that Gose began pitching in the professional ranks.
He represented Team USA at the Olympics in Tokyo and while he’s struggled a bit in Columbus the Olympic bid is a bit promising. At this point in his career, bringing him up for the rest of the season wouldn’t lock the team into keeping him next year. Taking him off the 40-man at the end of the season to open a spot up wouldn’t hurt the future outlook of the club, even if another team picks him up off waivers. Not for a 31-year old who’s never pitched in the majors at this point.
While his 5.00+ ERA in Triple-A isn’t exactly a sign to call someone up or necessarily a bright spot, there’s little risk in giving Gose a shot. The team could very easily cut Bryan Shaw, another player that’s not part of the future plans, to clear a spot for Gose just to see if anything is there. In reality, the team would be smart to do this with Shaw for pretty much any player in Columbus.
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Oscar Gonzalez, OF
While Gose isn’t a true bright spot, Oscar Gonzalez has shined enough to cover both of them. He started the season in Double-A, playing in 49 games with a strong slash line of .330/.367/.601 in addition to 12 doubles and 13 home runs. That was more than enough to get the call to Triple-A Columbus.
Since that call, Gonzalez has just kept slugging. Over 41 games in Columbus, nearly the same as Akron, the sample has just been consistent with a slight, and expected, regression with the rise in level. With the Clippers, Gonzalez is batting .302/.335/.494 with eight doubles, a triple and seven home runs.
Given the mess that has been Cleveland’s outfield, Gonzalez could be a huge upgrade down the stretch. The addition of Myles Straw has been promising and before Harold Ramirez went on the injured list he seemed like a solid option as well. Beyond that, the outfield is wide open, meaning there’s probably at least two outfield spots up for grabs.
It remains to be seen how Josh Naylor will be used when he returns, and when that will be. Bradley Zimmer fooled us for a bit, but as fallen back down to Earth and beyond that there’s just question marks.
Gonzalez has the potential to step up and immediately win a starting job in Cleveland’s outfield. He has a very well rounded game that could be a gigantic upgrade for the Tribe’s outfield down the stretch of the 2021. He might not hit .300 like he is in Columbus, but even a .260 batting average would be an upgrade at this point and that seems like something Gonzalez could provide.