5 Cleveland Indians Prospects You Must Watch During Spring Training
5 Cleveland Indians Prospects to Watch In Spring Training
While the majority of the attention was paid to the Pittsburgh Pirates -- and with good reason, considering it had been 1992 since they had last made the postseason -- there was another surprise team to make the playoffs in 2013: the Cleveland Indians.
The Indians had an outstanding 21-6 record in September, which pushed them to a Wild Card spot. Unfortunately for the Tribe, they met a better team in the Wild Card game, the Tampa Bay Rays. Nonetheless, for a season in which most "experts" didn't predict a postseason appearance for them, the Indians did extremely well.
A lot of their good fortunes were due to first-year Indians manager Terry Francona and continued development of their young players. Francona was hired to bring a different mentality to Indians baseball, and that is what he did.
Second baseman Jason Kipnis had the best year of his young career, with a .284/.366/.452 triple-slash line and a 130 wRC+. He posted a career-high walk rate as well, drawing a free pass in 11.6 percent of his plate appearances.
Two players in particular were huge surprises for the Tribe -- Yan Gomes and Ryan Raburn. In just 88 games, Gomes hit for a .294/.345/.481 line with a 131 wRC+ and 3.7 fWAR. Raburn, an extremely versatile player, hit .272/.357/.543 with a ridiculous 152 wRC+ in only 87 games played.
The Indians didn't use a lot of home-grown talent in 2013, but they are in a position to get some help from their farm system in 2014. As we enter Spring Training, there are several interesting prospects to watch from the Indians; to see five of the best prospects that will be at camp, continue reading through the following slideshow.
5. Erik Gonzalez
Erik Gonzalez is a shortstop in the Indians' organization. In 1,355 at-bats in his minor league career, Gonzalez has a .264/.310/.376 triple-slash line. According to Baseball America, Gonzalez has the best infield arm in the Indians' system.
4. Tyler Naquin
In two minor league seasons, outfielder Tyler Naquin has a .269/.344/.400 slash line. Much like Gonzalez, Naquin gets most of his recognition because of his defense. He is the best defensive outfielder and has the best outfield arm in the farm system of the Indians.
3. Tony Wolters
At one point, Tony Wolters was a middle-infielder. Now, Wolters is a catcher. In his first season as a catcher at the professional level, Wolters threw out 28 percent of attempted base stealers, which is slightly below average. However, considering it's his first season at catcher since high school, there is expected to be a development period. In 2013, Wolters hit .277/.369/.353.
2. Trevor Bauer
Trevor Bauer can strike you out. He can strike me out. He can strike anyone out. The problem with Bauer, however, is that he can also walk you and I as well. In 277.1 career minor league innings, Bauer -- with the best curveball and changeup in the Indians' farm system -- has a 3.50 ERA with 4.74 BB/9 and 9.93 K/9.
1. Francisco Lindor
The prized possession of the Indians' minor league system, Francisco Lindor is an absolute stud. According to Baseball America, Lindor is the best hitter for average, has the best strike zone discipline and is the best defensive infielder in the Indians' system. In 912 minor league at-bats, Lindor has a .279/.364/.377 triple-slash line.