The reigning AL Central champions look vulnerable right now, but these five prospects could help the Cleveland Indians at some point this season.
The Cleveland Indians won the American League Central by 13 games last season, as three teams in the division lost at least 98 games. They seemed to rest on their laurels during the offseason, and some key injuries has left manager Terry Francona to field less than major league-caliber lineups early this season.
The Indians seem to be on the verge of a tear-down/rebuild, rather than making moves to be all in as currently constructed over the next couple seasons. Shortstop Francisco Lindor is in line to be allowed to hit free agency after the 2021 season, and there will be teams ready to price the Indians out of the market.
The Indians’ farm system is not widely well-regarded (ranked No. 11 in baseball heading into the season by ESPN’s Keith Law, No. 25 by Bleacher Report’s Joel Reuter). But the consensus is there’s a bunch of talent in the lower levels of the minors, and the amount of major league-ready talent is light right now.
Cleveland may wind up being a trade deadline seller, but that’s a long way off. In the meantime, these five prospects could help the effort to make it four straight AL Central titles this year.
5. C Eric Haase
Haase was drafted by the Indians back in 2011, and got his first big league action last year (nine games, 17 plate appearances).
Haase hit 20 home runs with 71 RBI over 120 games at Triple-A Columbus last year, after totaling 27 home runs the previous season (26 in Double-A). He strikes out a fair amount (right around 30 percent each of the last two seasons) and doesn’t walk much (.288 OBP last year), but he has become better defensively over the years he’s closer to the big leagues than higher-ranked Indians’ catcher prospect Bo Naylor.
The Indians are going with Roberto Perez as their No. 1 catcher right now, with Kevin Plawecki backing him up. So Haase has a legit chance to enter the mix, and perhaps make a difference.