Third base has been a conundrum for the Cleveland Indians over the past decade, as they have been largely unable to find steady production at the position. The likes of Jack Hannahan, Andy Marte, and Mark Reynolds have all rotated through the revolving door at the hot corner. To the chagrin of Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonetti, this year has been no different for the Tribe. Carlos Santana played decent defense during Spring Training, fielding third for the first time since he was in the Dodgers’ farm system, and took the starting job from struggling incumbent Lonnie Chisenhall to start the season. However, Santana’s offensive production diminished as he relearned the position, and his defensive play was far from stellar.
Meanwhile, Lonnie Chisenhall hit nearly .400 during the first half of 2014 and recaptured the starting job from Santana. Since, he is hitting just above .150 while committing 15 errors, second most in the AL only to Josh Donaldson. The Indians are apparently considering moving Chisenhall to the outfield next season as the Kansas City Royals did with Alex Gordon, hoping it will prove more in line with his skill set than the hot corner.
Third base will accordingly likely be up for grabs once again next spring, and a prime candidate to steal the starting job is Tribe prospect Giovanny Urshela. Urshela is only 22 years old and he is lighting it up at AAA Columbus, hitting .279 (.833 OPS) with 11 homers and 56 RBI in only 88 games. Urshela is also a stellar defensive player, boasting a .978 fielding percentage while committing only four errors in 187 defensive chances.
Urshela is certainly a player to watch as the Indians make their September call-ups. He may be auditioning for a starting role on next season’s squad. Cleveland hopes he will bring stability to a position in turmoil, and turn one of the team’s biggest weaknesses into a strength.