3 minor league prospects for the Cleveland Indians who have disappointed in 2021
In the grand scheme of things, the minor leagues for the Cleveland Indians saw a lot of players have success this season. With the 2020 season lost to COVID, the jury was out for how the 2021 season would go. Luckily, majority of players were able to bounce back and not miss a beat. However, for these three, and others not listed, there were struggles during the season.
All three entered the season with decent excitement around their potential. At some point, all three appeared on the club’s Top 30 prospect list, some higher than others, but they just weren’t able to piece together a strong season in 2021 that lived up to the hype.
The bright side is that this was just one season and all three are still prospects, so there’s time. With that being said, they could be surpassed by other prospects in the organization, so getting everything figured out in a timely manner will be key.
A first round pick out of high school by the Cleveland Indians during the 2016 MLB Draft, Will Benson joined the club with high expectations. Standing 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, Benson has the frame that makes scouts excited about power potential. Unfortunately, the rest of his game hasn’t followed.
Benson started out with Double-A Akron and showcased that power ability with 13 doubles and 14 home runs. He even tallied five triples and 14 stolen bases. The downside, and the reason he ends up on this list, is his 104 strikeouts over 80 games (262 at-bats). Thanks to his power, Benson salvaged a .221/.374/.469 slash line, but things changed when he was called up to the next level.
With Triple-A Columbus, Benson struggled to figure out the improved pitchers, striking out 22 times over 52 at-bats, accounting for 42% of his official at-bats. His power was also neutralized a bit, dipping to two doubles, a triple and two home runs. His slash line followed suit at .173/.317/.365.
The low average was already a concern for Benson and the steep decline after the promotion doesn’t help. There’s still time to clean it up, but the initial return from Benson in Triple-A wasn’t what was hoped for.
Turning 27-years old in October, timing is running out for Scott Moss to break into the big leagues. A former fourth round pick, Moss has struggled in Triple-A Columbus. Despite the pitching struggles for the major league club in Cleveland, Moss was still kept in Columbus and overlooked for other prospects even though Moss was already on the 40-man roster.
Prior to this season, Moss was pitching decently well. He was on the club’s Top 30 prospect list and seemed like a viable depth option should the starting rotation see injuries, as they did this year. Unfortunately, when the time came that Moss was needed he was pitching at his worst.
Over nine games this season for Columbus, seven starts, Moss has allowed 16 runs over 20.1 innings for an ERA of 7.08. He’s also had walk problems, walking 15 batters over that time. Paired with 20 hits, Moss has a WHIP of 1.721.
Now, the positive for Moss is he did strikeout a ton of batters, sending down 29 for a strikeout per nine rate of 12.8. Perhaps that’s a sign that he belongs in the bullpen, but given his expectations, this year was a bit of a disappointment for the lefty.
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Just 20-years old, it’s still early for Aaron Bracho and a down season shouldn’t be too much of a setback for the young infielder. Bracho only played as high as Low-A Mahoning Valley in 2019, so a jump up to High-A in 2021 proved to be a challenge.
Bracho has played 65 games this year for Lake County and he’s really struggled at the plate. He’s slashing just .181/.272/.314. While others have power that helps the line, Bracho has just nine doubles and seven home runs with 80 strikeouts.
Originally a Top 10 prospect at the beginning of the season, Bracho fell to No. 15 during the mid-season update. Being a young switch hitter with position versatility, the future is still bright for Bracho, but this season was certainly a bit of a step back. The expectations are still high for him, but he will need a much improved 2022 campaign if he wants to stay in the good graces of the front office’s future outlook.