Recently, infield prospect Milan Tolentino has exploded as one of the top rising players within the organization, and due to that, has received a promotion to Double-A. Tolentino was given the nod to join the Akron RubberDucks after the clubhouse promoted Angel Martinez to the Triple-A Columbus Clippers, giving a shot for Tolentino to prove himself at a higher level.
Before joining Akron, Tolentino was being looked at closely during his time with the High-A Lake County Captains, but the reasons were good ones. Through 67 games, he had a stellar slash line of .260/.336/.406 with five home runs and 12 steals showcasing speed and hitting power. He also knocked 16 doubles and 25 RBIs.
On the fielding side of things, he was drafted as a defensive first shortstop, resembling the likes of another prospect, Brayan Rocchio. However, with such a packed department in that position, he started getting exposure in other infield areas. While primarily getting reps as a shortstop, he has also seen the field as a third baseman and a second baseman. His real wow factor is his range, no matter where he is on the field.
The MLB Prospect rankings described him with a "plus-sized arm capable of making throws from any angle needed as a shortstop," proving that he has what it takes to be a legitimate infielder. He also has shown impressive baseball IQ that helps him make on-the-fly decisions during contests.
The only real concern for his game when he was drafted was whether or not he could consistently provide in the hitting game. How much he develops in the minor league offensively will drastically determine if he is a big-league regular or a defensive utility man, something Cleveland has way too many of.
Being a left-handed hitter has its pros and cons, but with Tolentino's newly found strength, his power has gotten much better. He oftentimes was considered just a contact hitter, but finding the ability to hit the occasional rocket shot will be important if he wants an opportunity at Triple-A or in the majors.
So, what does the future hold for the youngster?
All in all, Tolentino has the ability to become an MLB regular, but his hitting needs to progress during his time in Akron. There was a reason he was called up because he has shown the Guardians clubhouse that he has what it takes to move his way up the ranks in the farm system.
Before getting promoted to the next step up, he was on an eleven-game hitting streak that saw him go19-48 from the plate to go alongside four doubles, one triple and three home runs. He also hit an impressive .396 batting average.
If there was ever a time for Tolentino to capitalize on his consistent play and heightened stock within the organization, it's now. The team is actively looking for their next everyday starter at the shortstop position and with Rocchio, Gabriel Arias, Tyler Freeman, Jose Tena, and others competing for that spot, expect to see Tolentino at least make an attempt as well.